Change Path For Favorite Links Folder In Server 2008

Jeffery Byers
Jeffery Byers used Ask the Experts™
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The setup:
Terminal Server running MS Server 2008
AD environment, deployment via GPO's

The problem (in a nutshell)
Our users are unable to drag folders over into the "Favorite Links" column of Explorer (see picture below).

The problem (details):
Because of restrictions we have in place with GPO's, users on our Terminal Servers can't write to the C drive (directly). Because the path to the Favorite Links folder is "C:\Users\user.name\Links", our users can't utilize the Favorite Links option in Server 2008 (again, because of policys that are in place, and one's that I am not willing to change).

Request:
Is there a reg hack or the like to change the path of the Favorite Links folder path? Is there a better way to do this? I would think that just pointing the Favorite Links folder to \\server\users$\user.name\favorite_links would do the trick, but can't find how to adjust this.

If I need to provide further detail, please let me know. Thanks for the help!
favorite-links.png
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I'm not sure if Server 2008 has this key path but it's worth a try.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders
Jeffery ByersNetwork Administrator

Author

Commented:
i does have the path, and it has the path to "favorites", but not a key for favorite links unfortunately (that i can find)
Henrik JohanssonSystems engineer
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
Manual modifying values in registry 'HKCU\...\User Shell Folders' is the way to do it in older OS (2000/XP/2003) for most of the profile folders as folder redirection only includes documents, desktop, application data and start menu. The registry value for the profile folder in question isn't Favorites and doesn't exist by default, and nead in that case to be created. I'm not sure for the moment about the name, but it should be just Links.

In Vista/2008, folder redirection functionality has been extended to also include other folders like favorites, videos, music and links.
Create a GPO and browse down to 'User Configuration\Policies\Windows Settings\Folder Redirection'
Right-click Links->Properties and change the Settings-dropdown to be either Basic or Advanced. Advanced makes it possibly to point different groups to different servers/shares, but it's enough to use Basic when having a single server/path for all users.
In 'Target folder location' choose 'Redirect to the following location'
In 'Root Path' enter \\server\users$\%username%\favorite_links
Click on Settings-tab and uncheck the 'Grant user exclusive rights...' if you want it to be possibly for administrators to access the folder. If the checkbox is checked, NTFS inheritance will be braked, and prevent all other users including administrators from accesing the folder.

As it's a TS, also enable the following policy setting to make it possibly to process user configuration policy settings when applied through GPOs linked to OU with computer object.
Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\System\Group Policy\User Group Policy loopback processing mode

Link the GPOs to the TS-OU.
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Jeffery ByersNetwork Administrator

Author

Commented:
henjoh09,

very good points. three things:
1. the registry key "Links" in the User Shell Folders (or Shell Folders) for that matter didn't do the trick unfortuntely. any way you could look that up to verify?
2. where are you getting the information that specifies the non-existent reg keys and their names and what to create? or is that just a best guess?
3. the option of changing the gpo i think would work, but unfortunately when i tinker with redirected folders on '08, it messes folders up on our 03 file server. good point though.

just let me know about the name if you have that information, i appreciate it!
Henrik JohanssonSystems engineer
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
Yes, it's a good guess or comparing with a system where the redirection is applied to get the value names of the ones that normally doesn't exist when keeping the folders in original location. As My Music couldn't be redirected in older OS, it was a lucky shot to create the reg value 'My Music' to get it to work in XP/2003.
If hacking 'user shell folders' registry, system will not move/copy the contents from the original folder to the new location and is by that reason better to use the builtin folder redirection functionality when possibly.

The best method should be to use folder redirection functionality, so I'm a little bit confused about the last statement that redirection messes up the folders on the file server.
Systems engineer
Top Expert 2008
Commented:
I just made a test redirection in my lab domain for the Links folder, and made a search in registry for the target value without finding anything, so the reghack method doesn't seam to be possibly for this.
You nead to use the builtin folder redirection functionality to solve this.
Jeffery ByersNetwork Administrator

Author

Commented:
henjoh09,

good to know, i appreciate the heads up on the registry hack not being an option.

to clear things up about folder redirection:
if you use 2008/vista to modify folder redirection and the share where the redirected folders is located is on a 2003 box, everything functionally works. but, instead of showing a users folder with their user name, it just shows up as "Documents" (a result of messing with folder redirection under 2008 with 2003 shares). i included a picture to show what i mean (the fuzzy folders all have users name). the reason only a few show up is because we tried going to 08, saw this problem, then bailed, so only a few folders were affected.

again, thanks for the good information, take care!
redirected-2003.png
Jeffery ByersNetwork Administrator

Author

Commented:
thanks, good answers
Henrik JohanssonSystems engineer
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
Ok, that "user friendly" behavior is caused by the hidden/system file desktop.ini located in the subfolder tricking Explorer to look like having multiple folders with same name when having documents redirected to parallell folders (just %username%) instead of a subfolder of the user (%username%\documents).
This is just a visual behavior, and the physical path in the file system is still the actual username.
Delete the desktop.ini file to display the correct folder name in explorer. You nead to display hidden/system files to display the file, or use a command prompt and execute "attrib -h -s desktop.ini" to remove the hidden/system attributes.
Jeffery ByersNetwork Administrator

Author

Commented:
henjoh09,

excellent information. can i award you more points? ;)

wish all experts were as helpful and thorough as you.

thanks again and have a good one!

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