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Are Redirected Folders Worth The Pain And Suffering?

Posted on 2013-11-29
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Last Modified: 2013-12-04
I guess I have never really been a fan of redirected folders. I tried it once about 10 years ago on a 2003 Server and it was OK but I wasn't impressed. Now I have tried it a second time on a Windows 2012 Standard Server with 5 Windows 7 Professional 64-bit workstations and I am even less impressed.

   The original GPO worked on four of the five workstations. The fifth workstation has problems that were never resolved. I had the GPO set to put the folders back on the local hard drive should the policy be removed. I removed the policy and it was a mixed bag One workstation reverted back to being on the local hard drive, two workstations it put the Documents back but left Music, Pictures and Videos redirected and it didn't do anything to the last two workstations. It was a mess! So......

1) I was under the impression that almost everyone uses folder redirection. It is the "Industry Standard". Is that true?

2) If it is true did I just get unlucky or are redirected folders about as flakey as a three dollar bill? I was surprised. I goggled redirected folder problems and was flooded.

3) Is there a utility or something that I can run on these 5 workstations that will put the libraries back on the local C: drive and end redirection because removing the GPO sure didn't do it.
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Question by:LockDown32
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Nick Rhode earned 125 total points
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1) That's not true that everyone uses it.  I myself am not a fan of it because it has never been 100% for me and have better luck manually changing the paths.

2) Your not the only that has had problems with redirecting and in windows 7 redirection is kind of worse because it does not change the documents folder redirection themselves and instead changes the library paths instead.

3) You would select the option that allows the files/folders to move themselves back when redirection is removed, let the files move back then remove the policy.  Also when the gpo is set it can take a little bit for the system to pull it down.  Do an gpupdate /force and reboot the system to see if it pulls the updated policy.
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by:LockDown32
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Windows 7 started this whole mess. I give everyone a home folder (Drive Y:) and in one fell swoop (with XP) you can right click on My Documents=>Properties and change the path to Y:\My Documents and it is a done deal (for the most part).

Now when I migrate someone from XP to Windows 7 Y:\My Documents is still there but the default open/save is now in the Document Library in their local profile.

I am a little confused by your response to #2. When I redirect it changes the Library path to the server and sets it as the default pen/save. What do you mean by "it does not change the documents folder redirection themselves"?
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by:lionelmm
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I agree that it is not used by everyone for exactly the reason you have stated. I suggest you use folder redirection to point the systems back to the original location--where you want them to be now and see if that works for you. Honestly with only 5 systems I would turn folder redirection off and simply go to the workstations and set the folders back to the default/desired location manually. You may have to run "gpupdate /force" (without the quotes) from a command prompt or the run command to enforce the new GPO settings.
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by:LockDown32
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I don't have just 5 workstations. I actually have 130. I just picked on one department (5 computers) in case something went wrong I wouldn't have 130 to worry about just 5.

   I didn't get an answer from above. If you don't use redirected folders you run the risk of not backing up users critical data like Documents. How are IT firms backing up these things if they aren't using redirected folders?
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by:lionelmm
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I use a scheduled task to run a script that copies the data from the PCs to a backup location on the server. Initially it is a lot of work to setup but once it is setup it is easy to maintain and change over time as users and systems change.
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by:Rob Williams
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Just to add my 2 cents worth, I have used redirected folders and offline files on every site I manage for about 10 years, and even with Win8.  The only issues I have ever had are switching paths back to local or to a new server.  Sometimes a bit of a pain to get the PC to 'forget' the old path.  When initially adding a client it will often take 3 logons for the GP to apply the redirected policy (which is in the documentation), or you can of course use GPupdate /force.

Redirected folders is not for everyone but it is a great solution for users that insist on saving data in their my documents or desktop instead of the mapped drive in which they are asked to do so.
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by:donnk
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IT really all depends on

A) if your bothered about local data on the users PC''s.

If it doesnt matter if this data (mydocs, pics, desktop, fav's) is lost following a dead PC then don't use it.

B)Users dont use the same PC all the time but want 'their' desktop.

Personally we use it as default as users cant be trusted to allways save their work in the correct places. Properly setup its fine, the 3 logins issue from 1956 is a real PITA though and should have been fixed centons ago.
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by:lionelmm
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I agree with the above--it does take some time to work out all the bugs but once you have them worked out it works.
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by:LockDown32
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I am happy to see some support for redirected folders. Users can't be trusted to follow instructions as to where to keep stuff. Redirected folders seems to be a way to force compliance.

   I give everyone a home folder Y: and with XP I just right clicked on their "My Documents" and changed the path to Y:\My Documents. No that I am upgrading workstations to Windows 7 Y:\My Documents is still there but the libraries are pointing to their local profile and changing all four libraries to point to Y: would be a little tedious on 130 workstations. Redirected folders does seem the way to go. It changes the libraries for you and sets the default save location to the redirected folder to boot.
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by:Rob Williams
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I see no mention in this question of Small Business Server, but I notice some of your past questions relate to it.  I am assuming with 130 workstations it is not SBS but if it is make sure you use the Wizard in the SBS console.
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by:lionelmm
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You should use the GPO for folder redirection, I would just add gpupdate /force to one of your logon scripts to make sure the new policies are enforced. If they are not, check the system logs to see what folder redirection errors are generated.
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