Windows Server 2003 : Managing Special Folders with Group Policy (part 3) - Folder Redirection Best Practices

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5. Folder Redirection Best Practices

The following are the best practices for implementing folder redirection:

  • Allow the system to create the folders If you create the folders yourself, they might not have the correct permissions set.

  • Use fully qualified UNC paths, for example: \\servername\ sharename Although paths like C:\Foldername can be used, it is not advisable because the path might not exist on the target computer.


    If you use a UNC path with more than 260 characters, folder redirection fails because the path is truncated.

  • Accept defaults In general, accept the default folder redirection settings.

  • Place the My Pictures folder in the My Documents folder This is advisable unless there is a compelling reason not to, such as server scalability.

  • Consider what will happen if the policy is removed Keep in mind the behavior your folder redirection policies will have if the policy is removed.

  • Do not redirect My Documents to the home folder unless you have already deployed home directories in your organization Folder redirection to the home directory offers less security than standard folder redirection and is offered only for backward compatibility. If you redirect My Documents to the home directory, and if your users log on to the domain via Terminal Server clients, then don’t specify a separate Terminal Services Home Directory.

  • Enable Offline Files In the event of a network failure or for users who use portable computers, users must be able to access the information in redirected folders.

Troubleshooting Special Folders

Table 2 describes some troubleshooting scenarios when redirecting folders to network locations or using Offline Files.

Table 2. Folder Redirection and Offline Files Troubleshooting Scenarios
Problem: Folders are not redirected.
The client computer is running Windows NT 4.0, Windows 98, or Windows 95.Confirm that the client computer is running Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP Professional.
Group Policy is not applied.Verify that folder redirection Group Policy settings are applied by using Gpresult.exe.
The network share is unavailable and Offline Files is not enabled.If the server that contains the redirected folders is offline and Offline Files is disabled, folders cannot be redirected.
The user does not have access permission to the share on which the folder is redirected.Verify that the user has access to the folder where his or her data is redirected. Users should have Full Control permission for the redirected folder.
There is a disk quota on the target folder. A mapped drive has been used for the target path rather than a UNC path.If a disk quota exists for the target folder, either enlarge it or have the user delete some files. A UNC path, rather than a mapped drive, is recommended for indicating the target path.
Problem: Folder redirection is successful, but files and folders are unavailable.
Network connectivity problems.Ping the server that stored the redirected folder to ensure network connectivity.
The network share is not available, and items are not available in the local cache.Check user rights on the redirected folder. The user should have Full Control permission.
When using applications, open and save operations that do not use the redirected path.Check the applications the user is using; some older applications might not recognize redirected folders.
Problem: Files available when online are not available when offline.
The files are located on a computer not running Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP Professional.Confirm that the files are located on a computer running Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP Professional.
Offline Files is not enabled on the client computer.Enable Offline Files on the client computer. Set Offline Files setting to automatic.
The Offline Files setting for the share is not set to automatic. 
Problem: The user cannot make files and folders available offline.
Remote Desktop For Administration is enabled.Check whether Remote Desktop For Administration is enabled by opening Properties for My Computer, selecting the Remote tab, and clearing the Allow Users To Connect Remotely To This Computer check box. Remote Desktop For Administration is not compatible with Offline Files.
The file or folder is a local file or folder and is not on a network share.Verify that the file or folder is on a network share. Verify that Offline Files is configured.
Offline Files is not configured.Verify that the Allow Or Disallow Use Of The Offline Files Feature setting in Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Network\Offline Files setting is not set to Enable.
A Group Policy setting was applied to disable Offline Files.Verify that the folder is redirected successfully and is not local. Then verify that the user has the appropriate file security to read and write to the location where the folder is redirected.
The user does not have access to the file share.
Problem: Files do not synchronize.
Files with extensions .mdb, .ldb, .mdw, .mde, and .db are not synchronized by default.Verify extensions of files to be synchronized.
There are network connection problems when accessing the files to be synchronized.Use Ping.exe to verify that the user can connect to the file share containing the files to be synchronized.
There is insufficient disk space on the client computer to synchronize files.Check the amount of free disk space on the client.
There are insufficient user rights to read or write the files to be synchronized.Verify that the Files Not Cached setting in Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Network\Offline Files setting is not set to Enable.
A Group Policy setting was applied specifying additional file name extensions that are not synchronized. 

Practice: Managing Special Folders

In this practice, you set up folder redirection. Normally, folder redirection is configured for users running Windows XP Professional clients. However, for training purposes, this practice configures folder redirection for a user on Server02.

Exercise 1: Setting Up Folder Redirection

In this exercise, you redirect Lorrin Smith-Bates’s My Documents folder to a sharepoint on Server01.

To set up folder redirection, follow these steps:

Log on to Server01 as Administrator.

Create a shared folder named C:\Users on Server01, and share the folder with the sharename Users.

Modify the default share permissions so that Everyone is allowed Full Control. This is necessary for folder redirection to work properly. The access to the folder and its subfolders will be controlled by NTFS permissions set on the folder’s access control list (ACL). The default ACL (seen on the Security tab of the folder’s properties dialog box) provides best-practice security and functionality for folder redirection.

Create a GPO linked to the Seattle OU named Special Folder Redirection. Use the procedures provided earlier in this lesson to redirect the My Documents folder to \\Server01\Users. Set the Target Folder Location to Create A Folder For Each User Under The Root Path.

Log on to Server02, as Lorrin Smith-Bates. What happened in the Users folder on Server01?

The folder for Lorrin Smith-Bates is created when he logs on. Inside the user’s folder is another folder, My Documents. As an administrator, you cannot view the contents of Lorrin Smith-Bates’s My Documents folder without permission from that user, or without taking ownership of the folder and granting yourself permissions.

Log off of Server02.
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