Saturday, June 28, 2008

Windows Server 2008 IntelliMirror: Folder Redirection

You can use the folder redirection functionality of GP to change the target location of many folders within a particular user's Windows interface. For example, you can specify custom locations for the Application Data, Desktop, Documents (including the Pictures, Music, and Videos subfolders), Favorites, Contacts, Downloads, Links, Searches, Saved Games, and Start Menu folders. Using folder redirection circumvents the nasty problem of roaming profiles: severe network traffic hikes caused by copying large My Documents and Desktop folders to workstations around the network when users log on. You also can back up the share where the folders are redirected using a normal network backup procedure, automatically protecting the contents.

To access the folder redirection functionality, launch the Group Policy Object Editor for a particular GPO and navigate through User Configuration, Policies, Windows Settings, and Folder Redirection. In the righthand pane, you'll see the folders you can redirect. Right-click each folder to bring up the Properties window.

On the Target tab, you can choose the type of redirection for this policy. For this example, choose the basic method, which simply redirects all users' folders to the same location. Next, enter the target folder at the bottom of the screen under Root Path, and select the option to create a new folder for each user underneath the root path. Then, move to the Settings tab, and choose the following settings:

Grant the user exclusive rights to My Documents

If this setting is enabled, the user to whom the folder belongs and the local computer have administrative and exclusive rights to the folder, to the exclusion of all other objects. If this setting is disabled, the current permissions on the folder are kept.

Move the contents of My Documents to the new location

If this setting is enabled, everything in the current My Documents folder will be moved to the new, redirected location. If this option is disabled, nothing will be moved and the new My Documents folder will be empty.

Policy removal

You can adjust the Windows default setting, which is to leave the folder in the redirected location if the redirection policy itself is removed. You also can choose to move the folder back to its initial location.

My Pictures preferences

The default action for the My Pictures subfolder is to follow the My Documents folder to wherever it resides.

Redirecting folders based on group membership

If you want to redirect some profile folders to different locations based on the different groups to which a user belongs, you can use the Advanced method of redirection inside the redirect policy properties page, on the Target tab. When you select Advanced from the drop-down setting box indicating the type of redirection, click the Add button. The Specify Group and Location box will appear.

Enter the name of a security group, and then enter the network path to the folders. Always use a UNC path, even if the folders are local to your machine, so that users taking advantage of roaming profiles will see the correct folders in an absolute path and not wrongly translate a local, relative path. Click OK when you're done, and then repeat the process for as many groups as you need.

If your users are creatures of habit, you can even turn on the Offline Files and Folders feature on the share where you've stored the redirected folders. This way, Windows will continue to display and use a customized environment even when the network is down and the share can't be reached.

Removing a redirection policy

It can be a bit difficult to track what happens to redirected folders if you decide to remove a redirection policy. It really depends on the appropriate setting on the Settings tab of the redirected folder's policy properties sheet.

If you've elected to redirect the folder back to the local user profile when the policy is removed, and the option to move the contents of the local folder to a new location is enabled, the folder will return to its original location and the contents of the folder will be copied back to the original location but not deleted from the redirected location. If the option to move the contents of the folder to a new location is disabled, the folder will revert to its original location, but the contents of the folder will not be copied or moved to the original location. This means the user is unable to access the contents of the redirected folder from the special folder's UI within the shell, but using a UNC path, she still can access the redirected folder and retrieve its contents manually. If you've selected to leave the folder in the new location when the policy is removed, the folder and its contents will remain at the redirected location, and the user will have access to it, regardless of whether the option to move the contents of the folder to the new location is enabled or disabled.

*.* Source of Information : O'Reilly Windows Server 2008: The Definitive Guide

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