How to Configure Folder Redirection GPO in Windows Server 2012 R2
In previous posts, we have discussed about group policies and also learned how to deploy various types of policies like disabling USB drive, software restriction policy etc. In this post we will discuss the steps to configure folder redirection GPO.
By default all the files and settings of the domain users store in the local computer and user specific settings are stored in Local User Profile. To further explain it, when a domain user login to a computer then a folder of his name (username) would be created in the “Users” directory of the system drive of that particular computer which is known as the Local user profile. The default path of the local user profile of each user is “C:\Users”.
Let’s talk about a real life scenario to understand the Folder Redirection policy in detail. As a user when you login to Computer and save some data in the My Documents Folder, now if you login to some other computer and want to access the data that you saved in the first computer then how would you do that.
Maybe you’ll say that you can remotely access the first computer using UNC path, then my question to you would be, what’s the UNC path you’ll use to access “My Documents” when you are a simple user and none of the directory is shared on the first computer.
However to overcome these kind of issues, we can redirect “My Documents” to the network share drive. By doing that, you can access the files and data stored in the “My Documents” from anywhere. Users would get the same content irrespective of any Computer they login within the domain.
In this post, we will learn the steps to configure folder redirection GPO by changing the path of users “My Document” from local computer to the network drive.
Steps to configure Folder Redirection GPO in Windows Server 2012 R2
1. Before we configure folder redirection GPO, login with the domain user, right click on “Documents”, select Properties. It would show the default path, in our case it is “c:\users\tu1.ITIngredients.000\Documents”.
2. Folder Redirection is an User based policy. To deploy this policy we have created an OU naming TECH and added three users in it i.e. TU1, TU2 and TU3.
3. Create a Share drive on any file server, we’ll use the UNC path of this share folder to save in policy settings so that user data would be stored in that.
4. To configure folder redirection gpo, open GPMC, right click on OU (Tech). Click on “Create a GPO in this domain, and link it here” to create a new group policy object and link it with an OU.
5. On New GPO console enter the name of Group Policy Object. In this example we have defined the name as “Folder Redirection Policy” as our GPO’s name.
6. A New GPO is like an empty container. Right click on GPO and then click on Edit to edit the settings and define the settings to configure folder redirection.
7. On GPME console, under User Configuration expand policies then expand windows, under folder redirection right click on documents then click on properties. There are multiple other folder redirection policies that we can configure apart from “My Documents” e.g. Desktop, Pictures, Music, Video, favorites, downloads, start menu, etc.
8. To configure folder redirection gpo, in “Document Properties” console, we can see 3 options for setting:
a) Basic- Redirect everyone’s folder to the same location
b) Advanced- Specify locations for various user groups.
c) Not configured
For setting option select “Basic – Redirect everyone’s folder to the same location“.
9. Under “Target folder location“, we can see four options i.e.
a) Redirect to the user’s home directory
b) Create a folder for each user under the root path
c) Redirect to the following location
d) Redirect to the local userprofile location
Select “Create a folder for each user under this root path” under Target folder location and give UNC path of the share drive in Root Path tab. Click on Apply and click OK.
10. Now a Warning message pop-ups regarding the settings related to Folder Redirection policy that this policy do not apply to Windows 2000, Windows 2000 server, Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 and also that we cannot make any change in Folder Redirection settings in this GPO from those Operating System. Click on Yes to continue.
11. We can verify that a new folder with the name of TU1 would be created automatically, it confirms that folder redirection settings are deployed successfully.
12. Login with the domain user and run the command gpupdate /force to force the Group Policy. It might ask to logoff and then login back to implement Group Policies.
13. Now let’s verify if folder redirection policy is implemented successfully or not by checking the path. Right click on Documents, click on properties if the path is changed to the UNC path i.e. “\\DC03\FolderRedirection\TU1” then it confirms success.
Folder redirection policy is configured to save the user content at the centralized location. It would help user in accessing their content from any computer within the domain. It is not limited to My Documents, it can also be used to redirect Pictures, Movies, Videos, Desktop, start menu, favorites, downloads, etc at the centralized location.