The files in local user profiles can be accessed only from the current computer, which makes it difficult for users who use more than one computer to work with their data and synchronize settings between multiple computers. Folder Redirection lets administrators redirect the path of a folder to a new location. The location can be a folder on the local computer or a directory on a network file share. Users can work with documents on a server 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.
Advantages of Folder Redirection:
- Even if users log on to different computers on the network, their data is always available.
- Offline File technology (which is turned on by default) gives users access to the folder even when they are not connected to the network. This is especially useful for people who use portable computers.
- Data that is stored in a network folder can be backed up as part of routine system administration. This is safer because it requires no action by the user.
- If you use Roaming User Profiles, you can use Folder Redirection to reduce the total size of your Roaming Profile and make the user logon and logoff process more efficient for the end-user. When you deploy Folder Redirection with Roaming User Profiles, the data synchronized with Folder Redirection is not part of the roaming profile and is synchronized in the background by using Offline Files after the user has logged on. Therefore, the user does not have to wait for this data to be synchronized when they log on or log off as is the case with Roaming User Profiles.
- Data that is specific to a user can be redirected to a different hard disk on the user’s local computer from the hard disk that holds the operating system files. This makes the user’s data safer in case the operating system has to be reinstalled.
- The Administrator can use Group Policy to set disk quotas, limiting how much space is taken up by user profile folders.
Offline Files makes network files available to an end user when a network connection to the server is unavailable or slow. When working online, file access performance is at the speed of the network and server. When the server is unavailable or the network connection is slower than a configurable threshold, files are retrieved from the Offline Files folder at local access speeds.
The following groups might be interested in these changes:
- Administrators that want to centralize data from client computers for administrative tasks such as backup.
- Network administrators that want to optimize bandwidth usage and enhance the experience of users in branch offices who access files and folders that are hosted by corporate servers located offsite.
- Users that want to continue to access network files if there is a network outage.
- Mobile users that need to access network files while working offline or over slow networks.
Roaming User Profiles
Roaming User Profiles redirects user profiles to a file share so that users receive the same operating system and application settings on multiple computers. When a user signs in to a computer by using an account that is set up with a file share as the profile path, the user’s profile is downloaded to the local computer and merged with the local profile (if present). When the user signs out of the computer, the local copy of their profile, including any changes, is merged with the server copy of the profile. Roaming User Profiles is typically enabled on domain accounts by a network administrator.
User Experience Virtualization (UE-V)
UE-V monitors the changes that are made by users to application settings and Windows operating system settings. The user settings are captured and centralized to a settings storage location. These settings can then be applied to the different computers that are accessed by the user, including desktop computers, laptop computers, and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) sessions.
User Experience Virtualization uses settings location templates to specify what applications and Windows settings on the user computers are monitored and centralized. An administrator can create a UE-V settings location template to specify which enterprise application settings will roam. UE-V includes a set of settings location templates for some Microsoft applications and Windows settings.