Folder Redirection or Home Drives?

Hey guys,

We have an older setup here, using Server 2003 and the Desktop/My Documents folders are redirected. Now this server is very old and needs to be replaced, we have a new Server 2008 R2 server built and ready.

Now, we want to think for the future, is Home Drives easier and better or should we keep the Folder Redirection in place? we have about 150 users.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I don't know your environment(s), so trying to provide a definitive answer would be foolish on my part.

How well do you know the technologies involved?
What benefits and drawbacks do you see for your environment?

In my opinion, it's rarely a good move to move AWAY from folder redirection.  Why do YOU think you should?
Cobra25Author Commented:
The problem is that, when the server crashes and moving it over to a new server is a huge pain.

THat's why i was interested in the home drives, its easier to move the data over to a new server.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
When the server crashes... what happens?

How is moving it a pain?  You change the group policy for the path.

Again, I don't know your environment.  Many environments I work in have two servers. For those environments, we tend to use DFSR for the profile shares.

One of the great advantages of folder redirection is that it's faster than roaming profiles and allows all user data to be stored on the server (if don't properly) so that it's backed up.
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Cobra25Author Commented:
When the server crashes, people cannot access data.

No, its not just simply changing the path. I worked with Microsoft to go over moving this, and they said it has to be copied back to the local profiles first, then the GPO re-adjusted after to re-direct to the new server share.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
No, I don't have a writeup on it, but I would just recreate the folder structure and test with one user.  Once confirmed, copy everything over.  (If you allowed exclusive access to the folders, then you'll have a headache of a time taking ownership, but otherwise, I just change the path in the GPO.

As for server crashes, are you using a good, name brand server or something you built?  Servers shouldn't crash.  If they do, it's usually a hardware issue.  And if your data is that critical, you should have two servers in place.  Then you could do DFS with DFSR and mitigate that problem.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Put it simply, Home directories are OLD technology - they've been around since NT was introduced.  They require USERS to pay attention to where they save things and reduce the control over your network compared to folder redirection.  Folder Redirection is, in my opinion, easy, provides a level of protection and speed not offered by home folders.  And with appropriate design, you can even use it reliably with laptops and offline files.

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Cobra25Author Commented:
you know it does require users to pay attention, but this kind of keeps them on their toes a bit, it requires them to be more aware of what they are downloading and saving.
Cobra25Author Commented:
Lee, the server i have yes its an old VM and needs to be retired. I cant just "change the path in the GPO" this is confirmed by Microsoft that it is not that simple.
Dirk MareSystems Engineer (Acting IT Manager)Commented:
As Lee suggested Folder Redirection via GPO
also another plus for DFS if you have enough hardware.

A side note to the topic of moving users in GPO to new folder re-direct.
I have done a couple of these brief steps below.

1. Create the new folder and share on new server and allow Folder creator full access and and allow domain users access to create folder.

2. Create a new security group in AD

3. Modify folder re-direct in GPO and add a second location, add the newly created security group and provide share location

4. One user at a time, make sure all documents are synced and no errors or warning are present.

5. Remove user from old redirect group add to new group

6. Wait for AD replication if you are moving users between groups that are located in other sites

7. on user computer run gpupdate /force and reboot

8. When logging in user will be automatically moved to new server location for My Documents run [url="

offline files cache re-initialize [/url] "] Microsoft Fixit

9. after reboot log on to new server browse to old server my documents folder for that user and move files to new server location

10. On user computer sync documents to new location

11. Done

Depending on how the GPO is configured you can set it up to move the documents automatically, but I prefer the manual process as you don't want to lose the user documents because of conflicts or errors they had prior to the move..

Matthew ParsonsDirectorCommented:
Hi Cobra, I would have to agree with Dirk and Lee, having worked in multiple large environments including schools, folder redirection is certainly the way forward.

There are a few tools out there that can be used to recreate share paths, move data and setup share names just from a list of usernames that can help save some time.

As far as users, it needs to be kept easy for them as much as i would agree that users need to pay attention, we all know the majority don't and they only really start paying attention once they have lost data and learnt the hard way.

I can't see why it wouldn't work and why Microsoft would be telling you otherwise. It's just a logical path and if you consider having 600 users having to copy data back to local profiles and back to the server would take a good while and you have little feedback.

During a data migration in this instance (knowing little about the exact configuration) i would have simply used robocopy to copy the user data/permissions/attributes etc with logging enabled from the existing server to the new location, check shares and permissions, set the group policy and it should be fine.

Best of luck.

Cobra25Author Commented:
The problem is related to registry Tattoing which probably will not update the registry to the new paths.

When you have a lot of users who move in and out of the office and share PC's, i dont think folder re-direction is the best fit here.
Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
This question has been classified as abandoned and is closed as part of the Cleanup Program. See the recommendation for more details.
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