This is our next step – after Home and Shared folders where now we redirect the local folders such as Documents to the network. So it will look like it is still Documents and on the local hard drive but now it is in fact on the network as H:\Documents (or maybe H:\My Documents). This means we can back it up , or secure it better then when it was on the desktop it came from. It also means if we log into a different machine we can still find our files. If the machine it came from was a laptop we could use the ability to synchronize folders so the laptop user would always have the current files but the network would also have the current files too. We are not going to look in this article at synchronizing files.
So lets get started.
We need to create a new Group Policy and it does not need to be connected to anything until we are finished with it.
I am using a separate object as it is easier to work with when you are documenting things. But the trick with GPO is to have less, and have it higher in the tree. That helps coverage, troubleshooting and maintenance too. I am not doing that here, but once this new policy is working, I can attach it easily to the DG users OU, and perhaps if it makes sense later to add it to a different object – maybe have a DGAll at the root for example which would include most of the GPO – so we have less objects. This is only a guideline but one to think about.
Lets edit the new GPO object.
Lets change to the Folder Redirection in User Configuration \ Windows Settings.
Lets first redirect Documents so right click on it and select Properties.
While it starts as Not configured, we are going to use Basic redirection.
There are a number of Target folder location choices. Redirect to the User’s Home Directory sounds good but it does not redirect the folder as much redirect the contents. So the H:\ will not have H:\Documents but rather the contents of Documents in H:\. So we will not use it!
We use Create a folder for each user under the root path, and note how in the bottom of the dialog you can see how it will actually work? Very handy, and I like how it will create the Documents folder under the actual users folder? Very Nice.
Now we should change to the Settings tab.
I like to uncheck the Grant the user exclusive rights to Documents. In the past that could impact backup tools access. I also like to check the Redirect the folder back as well so that if we change our mind things are tided. You will get a warning when you hit OK. Yes is the answer normally.
So we have now completed the redirection of the Documents folder. If you connected the GPO object to the Users folder you would only have to log into your once, or twice, and you would still see your documents folder as you expect but you would have H:\Documents as well.
I like to redirect Documents, Downloads, Pictures, Videos, and Music.
Something to think about
The default behavior is that these redirected folders are cached locally. This means that if there is a network outage the end user can in fact continue working. In particular this is good for laptop users. If you are working in a virtual environment it might be a good idea to disable this behavior – and I am.
Notice how I have enabled Do not automatically make redirected available offline?
If you looked at the properties for a redirected folder you should see something different.
Here is the default for Documents.
And, when it has been redirected it looks a little different.
So we have H:\My Documents, and we can see in the Documents properties that it is pointed to the network now. So all good.
We now have successfully redirected our key folders. So backups are easier now, and it supports moving between machines easier. So things are good.
Background info – https://technet.microsoft.com/en-ca/library/cc732275.aspx
BTW, I am using Windows 7 for my desktop. If you are using Windows 10 there may be some slight differences in the screenshots.
I would love some comments. Do you redirect more or less folders? Is there something you think I have missed? Any comments or suggestions would be much appreciated.
- 12/3/15 – just realized something odd. When I start a command session and do stuff it works. I can change to H: or L: and no big deal. However if I start the command session as a Run as Admin I am limited to only c: and cannot change to H: or other network drives. I believe this sounds familiar but I have not had time to figure this out. I will update when I do.
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