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Folder Redirection through Group Policy

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Joseph Hornsey
I built my first network in 1994 using PowerLAN.  From there I messed around with NetWare and then moved to Windows NT and Cisco.
One thing I've always found frustrating is no matter how many times one asks the end users to not save things on their local machines, they do it anyway.  Forget that we don't back up the desktops - only the servers.  Well, let's sneak their data onto the servers without them knowing about it.

he basic idea of Folder Redirection is configuring Windows clients to store the contents of certain folders on the network instead of the local machine.  To do this, you'll need a shared folder on a server.

Generally speaking, I always give Full Control to Domain Admins and then whatever permissions I feel users need.  In the case of redirecting folders, users will need Change permissions.

But here's a gotcha!  Make sure the NETWORK account has Full Control permissions on the share. 

Once that's done, you've got your destination.

Next, create the Group Policy Object and edit the settings at User Configuration > Policies > Windows Settings > Folder Redirection:

To do this, right-click on whichever folder you wish to redirect and select "Properties":

There are a few options available, but I'm going to just choose basic redirection where everyone's stuff goes to the same place:

Point the root path to the shared folder you created.  Go to the Settings tab and (if you wish) have the existing contents of the user's local folder copied to the network location:

As you redirect more folders to the same location, Windows will build the folder tree for each user automagically:

Fair warning:  The first time a user logs in, it's going to take a while if you've redirected a lot of folders and they have a lot of stuff in them.  Especially with AppData, Music, and Pictures.

Give this a shot and let me know what you think!

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