Friday, February 17, 2012

Folder redirection on Windows 7

Without an intervention from you, users settings and user files are stored in the local user profile, under the Users folder on the local drive. “C:\USERS\etc”. I think we all know we cant trust users to backup so lets look at it.

There are two technologies to ‘fix’ this situation, Roaming Profiles and Folder Redirection.

Folder Redirection lets you redirect the path of a folder to a new location. The location can be another folder on the local computer like a D: or a directory on a file server. to the users it is as if the documents were based on a local drive. The documents in the folder are available to the user from any computer on the network and offline via offline folders.

Advantages of Folder Redirection

If users log on to different computers on the network, their data is available.

Offline Files (which is turned on by default) gives users access to the folder even when they are not connected to the network. This is for people who use laptops.

When it is stored in a network it can be backed up…. Nice idea huh?

When using Roaming User Profiles, you can use Folder Redirection to reduce the total size of your Roaming Profile and make the user logon and logoff more quicker for the user.

You can use GPO to set disk quotas, limiting how much space is taken up by user profile folders.

You to select the location of the redirected folder on a network or in the local user profile:

  1. Redirect everyone's folder to the same location. This setting enables you to redirect everyone's folder to the same location and is applied to all users included in the GPO
  2. Create a folder for each user under the root path. This option creates a folder in the form \\server\share\User Account Name\Folder Name. Each user has a unique path for their redirected folder.

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Folder Redirection in Windows 7 improves first-time Folder Redirection performance because the the computer redirected folder data in the background, not just at logon. However the first time a user logs on, Offline Files moves all files and folders from the server to the local cache. The user is blocked from logging on to the computer during this task. Then, Offline Files synchronises from the local cache with the redirected user folder on the server. . So turn this on at the initial deployment, not later and be careful of WAN links.

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Offline Files synchronises new and changed files and folders from the local computer to the server when the network becomes available or in the background when the connection is slow.

Windows 7 new slow link detection

Slow link detection works via Network Location Awareness (NLA). This networking layer service allows applications, like GPOs, to request networking information from the network adapters in a computer, rather than implementing their own. NLA  monitors the existing traffic of a specific network interface. This provided two important benefits:

  1. it does not require any additional network traffic to accomplish its bandwidth estimate no network overhead, and
  2. it does not use ICMP.

Windows 7 slow-link mode, Offline Files

A shared folder automatically transitions to the slow-link mode if the round-trip latency of the network is greater than 80 milliseconds, or as configured by this policy.

After transitioning a folder to the slow-link mode, Offline Files synchronises the user's files in the background at regular intervals, or as configured by the 'Configure Background Sync' policy. While in slow-link mode, Windows periodically (every 2 Minutes) checks the connection to the folder and brings the folder back online if network speeds improve.

Wrap-up

It is not always plane sailing occasionally the laptop users loss where it was, don't let it sync or don't know where files are, but this is outwaited by the value of having their information backed up.

From the Start menu, type sync and it will bring up the sync centre to allow you to see what is going on.

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This information is generally from here:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc732275.aspx
http://blogs.technet.com/b/netro/archive/2010/09/15/slow-link-detection-for-offline-files-in-windows-vista-sp2-amp-windows-7.aspx
http://blogs.technet.com/b/askds/archive/2009/10/23/group-policy-slow-link-detection-using-windows-vista-and-later.aspx

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