Advice on Roaming Profiles vs Group Policy for MyDocuments redirection

Posted on 2009-05-20
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-07
I'd like some advice on how best to handle "My Documents" redirection on client PCs at a remote location which also has a local replica DC & file server.  My situation:

Location 1 - Main office:
Server1: Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 (AD-DC, Exchange, SQL, file & print)
Users at Location1 have their MyDocuments automatically redirected to Server1 due to SBS2003 GPO.

new Location 2 - Warehouse:
Server2: Windows Server 2003 R2 (AD-DC replica, file & print)

There is a 0.5 Mbps VPN connection between location 1 & 2 - good enough for RDP, but not for 'dynamic' file access by applications at another location - way too slow for that.

I have an application & its data currently @ Location1/Server1.  I want to move it to Location2/Server2.

However SBS2003's standard GPOs redirect all domain-connected client PC user's My Documents to Server1.  Over a 0.5Mbps VPN that's unacceptably slow just logging in, let alone actually doing anything involving files in their MyDocs.

I could:
- modify GPO to apply MyDocs redirection to Server2 instead of Server1 for any/all Location2 PCs.  this seems like the best approach because it affects computers only, not users.

- use Roaming Profiles.
but Roaming Profiles are still stored in only 1 location, right?

Is there a 3rd option?

If i use Roaming Profiles, will the domain's MyDocs redirection GPO still redirect MyDocs to Server1 anyway?

I'm not very familiar with modifying GPOs, and am aware of many "horror stories" with Roaming Profiles, so I'm not sure where to focus my efforts (& further learning).

Many thanks for any advice,
Question by:techydude71
  • 3
LVL 97

Accepted Solution

Lee W, MVP earned 2000 total points
ID: 24438762
Yes, there is a third option that will provide better performance AND a level of redundancy to protect your data from loss at either site.

1.  If you haven't already, properly configure Active Directory Sites and Services

Setup DFS with DFSR replication.  DFS will create a virtual share - for example, if you have:

Server1 = Server 1
Server2 = Server 2
MyDomain = Your NetBIOS domain name

Then DFS will allow you to define a share on Server1 and another share on Server2 that replicate with each other so that you have an identical set of data in both locations.  Then you define your share (where the folder redirection points to) as \\MyDomain\<Share Name> instead of \\Server1\<share name> or \\Server2\<share name>

DFS Replication can be configured to replicate off hours and to be throttled so that you don't use too much bandwidth when you might need it for other purposes.  Further, it replicates at the block level - meaning that if you have a 100 MB file and you make a small change to it, it ONLY replicates that small change, not the entire file - this means you can have the 100 MB file updated on both systems within seconds, EVEN on a 512 Kb VPN between sites (depending on your replication configuration).

More information can be found on DFS here:

Author Closing Comment

ID: 31583807
That's brilliant!  Thanks heaps for the solution.  Sorry it took so long to get back to you.  Cheers, Anthony.

Author Comment

ID: 24855107
One further question (I'm finally ready to get this happening),

My 'intuition' tells me that DFS would NOT be appropriate for use on Foxpro database files that are accessed simultaneously by multiple users?

I know that wasn't the scenario I posed originally (just user's home folders accessible only by themselves), I just want to clarify the limits of DFS's applicability...

Author Comment

ID: 24856661
i just found the answer to my follow-up question, an unequivocal NO.

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