So you enabled Folder Redirection and got pulled off to another 100 projects. Believe me, I completely understand. Though Folder Redirection is working for you, you can take it so much further! Welcome to part three of our Folder Redirection series. To get the most out of Folder Redirection, we will configure three technologies to save you space, time, and a few headaches – in order: Data Deduplication, Volume Shadow Services, and Offline Files.
Using Data Deduplication with Folder Redirection
We previously covered data deduplication and used an SCCM primary site server in our example. You can read that guide here. When data deduplication is used with Folder Redirection, you have to make a few extra changes. Go ahead and enable the data deduplication role; then select the data deduplication properties for your volume.
Ensure the data deduplication type is set to General purpose file server. In our environment, we found that the default file age was a bit too aggressive because files changed so often. For our configuration, files won’t be deduplicated until they are 10 days old. We also exclude three file types: pst, xls, and db. When deduplication scrubbing would occur, file corruption errors were being logged in Event Viewer. Oddly, they only involved these three file types.
As a side note, this corruption issue made me explore a way to automatically convert older Office files (.doc, .xls, .ppt) to the Office 2007 format. This prevents the file corruption issue that I saw and saves a ton of storage space (as the new file format is 1/10 the size of the older file format). Expect a write up on that process soon. Data deduplication with folder redirection is simple to setup and very useful with folder redirection. Knowing these caveats will ensure a successful roll out.
Using Volume Shadow Services with Folder Redirection
Volume Shadow Services, also known as Shadow Copies, allow users to restore their own files from a previous point in time. The next time a user overwrites a critical document, he can right click on the file – choose Restore Previous Versions – and restore the file without calling the helpdesk. I love saving future me time!
To enable Shadow Copies, launch Explorer and open the properties of your data volume. Select the shadow copies tab and press enable. Select Settings and set a Use limit.
If you prefer more than two snapshots a day, adjust the schedule now. More snapshots allow you a greater amount of flexibility in backups but reduce how far back you can restore. Your staff can now restore their own files and folders – you just have to train them now. 🙂
Using Offline Files with Folder Redirection
Offline Files received a bad reputation with XP (and for good measure). It was constantly visible by slowing down logouts, presenting sync errors. Offline Files in Windows 7 and above is nearly maintenance free.
Why would you want to enable Offline Files though? Three reasons: roaming users, insurance, and speed. Users with laptops/tablets are able to work offline and have their changes sync with they are connected to your network. Offline Files also gives you some flexibility when a user’s machine becomes disconnected due to network/power issues or if your file servers are offline. Users are still able to access documents and work. Finally, Offline Files improves folder redirection speed.
When a user first logs in with Offline Files enabled, local files that will be redirected are moved to the Offline File cache (C:\Windows\CSC\) and are then synced up to your file server. This allows the user to log on faster as the Folder Redirection CSE is able to finish sooner. When Offline Files are not enabled, users have to wait for these files to copy to your server. Copying within disk is always faster than over the network.
The Group Policy settings for Offline Files can be found at: Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Network\Offline Files. Depending on your OS, Offline Files is enabled or disabled by default. To ensure that Offline Files is enabled no matter the OS, find the Allow or Disallow use of the Offline Files feature and set it to enable. In our environment, this setting is applied to primary machines only – labs and common use areas do not get Offline Files.
Redirected folders are automatically cached for Offline Files. You can assign other folders to cache by enabling the Specify Administratively Assigned Offline Files setting. Good candidates for this setting might be folders where software retrieves network data. Setting these folders to cache would allow a user to access this information offline. Locations where many users will write to simultaneously should not be specified here.
And that wraps up post three of our Folder Redirection series. In the next part, we will tackle remote file access for folder redirection.