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  • I have stopped using legacy roaming profiles completely with Windows 10 for a multitude of reasons. Mostly because 10 has this bad habit of breaking the profile if a sync fails (start menu stops working, quick launch goes away, etc). 

    That said, you SHOULD be using a mixture of legacy roaming and folder redirection ALWAYS imo. There's no reason why a user should be waiting for their Desktop/Documents/etc to synchronize from system to system nor why you should be storing that on multiple local disks. 

    If you wanted to migrate it should be relatively painless. Just setup folder redirection for all the important folders and alert users that their next login will be slow while it migrates data. You'll likely have to resolve a few stray people with some bad files or overly long path names that fail at this point but this is part of your calls now.

    Once you've done that, just start turning off legacy roaming and all you'd really lose is a system being "setup" for a user when they get behind a new computer. Keeping this in mind, using the mixture of legacy roaming and redirected files, you might end up solving some of your issues and find that you can leave things be for a bulk of users. I tend to find that a lot of sites I'll build OUs for "Redirected" and "Redirected-No Roaming" or something to that effect for users that have some troublesome app. 

    Problematic folders in 10 seem to be %appdata% in general and Quicklaunch folder in particular. I'd generally recommend having offline files enabled for folder redirection with 10. 

    Pepper graySpice (1) flagReport
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  • I disable offline folders for everything but laptops. The end points should always be able to access the file servers, and when you disable offline files you take away sync issues and slowdowns.

    You should do folder redirection to a DFS Namespace. This is SUPER IMPORTANT! Otherwise, you will have massive problems when trying to move to a new file server. This means, redirect to \\ad.mycompany.org\DFS\Staff\%username% instead of \\fs-1\Users\%Username%. Redirecting directly to a specific file server WILL BITE YOU IN THE BUTT.

    Roaming profiles made more sense in the Windows NT days. Full roaming profiles do not make any sense once folder redirection was released with what, XP SP3?

    I don't do any roaming profiles. I redirect Documents, Desktop, Music, Favorites, etc. I do not redirect AppData, and users don't seem to have any problem with that not being redirected. 

    It may make more sense to redirect to OneDrive. I don't know if you have conditional access policies or other policies that would govern if the files should be available from off site. That may complicate OneDrive. If OneDrive is available, then hopefully you already have that figured out.

    Pepper graySpice (3) flagReport
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  • 1. What are the Pro's and Con's from moving from Roaming profiles to Folder redirection?

    • Roaming profiles shouldn't be used anymore. They should have went away about 10-years ago. Folder redirection allows users to use their local directory, but folders/files are stored on the network for better protection (since file servers get backed up, workstations typically don't).

    2. What is the best approach in completing this action?

    • Group Policy, use GPOs to tear down Roaming Profiles and setup Folder Redirection.

    3. What folders should we redirect and what ones should we avoid?

    • I would only redirect user folders, and company shares that are supported by a DFS Namespace. Some applications (like Quickbooks) do not support a namespace and will throw all sorts of application errors. But generally when we're just talking about company file shares and user documents/favorites, I would redirect those. It's not recommended to redirect user AppData/Temp data.

    4. Should folder redirection be used in conjunction with one drive on the users device?

    • Users should really use one or the other, to make their life simpler and know where stuff is at. Either use Folder Redirection, or OneDrive for Business, but I would not recommend both.

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  • As you're deploying redirected folders, I recommend a phased approach where you redirect only one folder at a time.

    At first, redirect Documents.

    A week later, redirect Pictures.

    And so on.

    (Or you could phase it by department to reduce load when the whole company logs on at the same time, or a hybrid approach.)

    The reason is because after applying the policy, the next logon will be delayed as the system will be copying the files from the local copy of the roaming profile to the redirected folder location. Once it's complete, only then does it present the desktop. By doing this in steps, you reduce the amount of time the delay takes. Of course, that means it will take longer to effect a full changeover to redirected folders.

    To give the users the most seamless experience, make sure that redirection is fully applied and complete BEFORE disabling roaming profiles.

    It's a good idea to do a full audit of the redirection, making sure that the every user's folders have fully redirected. I've seen where the folders are redirected, but for whatever reason, a copy remains in the profile folder. That copy can create confusion if the user -- or software -- access that copy.

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  • Whether to redirect AppData is a tossup. If all of the computers are configured the same (i.e., from an image) with exactly the same software, it will work the most seamlessly. In other words, many of the same issues that roaming profiles has.

    Some software does not play well with redirected AppData.

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  • We found it worked ok. 

    But Autocad doesn't like appdata redirected.

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  • In your post you mention using folder redirects in conjuction with One Drive. I don't know if that is possible or not. If your users have One Drive I would use that if you can.

    We currently have folder redirects but will be moving everyone to OneDrive very soon, as soon as our new fiber circuit is tied in. We are trying to move as much off prem as we can, so having a file server around for folder redirects was a easy thing to get rid of.

    The other thing with folder redirects is when the user moves from workstation to workstation they will be leaving behind their data on that device. Depending on the folder size and how many different people will be logging into a workstation you could run out of hard drive space with all the profiles.

    I have also had people with LARGE and I mean LARGE 30GB photo folders that would folder redirect, we had to have them move the data to somewhere on the file server.

    Another think you could look into is a user HOME network share, it will take a lot of habit breaking to have users save their work in their HOME drive, but moving from workstation to workstation would be a painless process and there would be no need to wait for files to sync.

    The other nice thing about OneDrive is you can see the files to only sync with the workstation when they are accessed. This way if a user has 5GB of archived files but 90% of the time only works with current files then only those current files they access are synced to that workstation. Another benefit of OneDrive is users can use the AutoSave feature in Microsoft Office as well.

    Pepper graySpice (1) flagReport
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  • My biggest issue with folder redirection (just doing the users desktop and documents folders) is some software installers, especially older installers or installers from vendors that haven't updated their installer stack since the the 2000's: 

    ["Documents" is not a valid short file name.]

    This error message gets me from time to time because we do have some software in our organization that is using an installer that hasn't been updated for 10-20 years (payload might be updated, but the installer routine isn't).  Since we also map the users home folder in their AD profile to a drive they can access, the fix is to go into the registry and change the affected users shell folders locations in Windows registry to point the Documents folder to the mapped drive instead of the UNC path (and don't forget to change it back after the install is done).

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  • If you have access to OneDrive, go with that and just avoid the headaches of folder redirection entirely. Offline sync issues and even just storing Home drives just aren't worth the time in 2022.

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  • As far as setting up folder redirection, the AdamJ guide always will be the gold-standard for getting everything right.

    https://www.ajtek.ca/guides/the-adamj-method-for-folder-redirection-with-offline-files-part-1/Opens a new window

    Pepper graySpice (1) flagReport
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  • Thanks for the mention and high praise :)

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  • j.bainbridge wrote:

    We found it worked ok. 

    But Autocad doesn't like appdata redirected.

    MANY things do not like %appdata% redirected. I have found that countless developers seem to not know that the %appdata% variable is a thing and that is is redirectable and hard code this into the programs. Autodesk, Intuit, Adobe, and the list goes on. Invariably if you have a custom application you'll have a problem with this.

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  • This is a good discussion.  I am curious to know if others here have enable UEV with redirected folders and their experience? 

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  • We had to switch from folder redirection, and we decide to go to OneDrive KFM https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/onedrive/redirect-known-foldersOpens a new window

    So far so good, easy to setup, pretty straight forward on the user side and no issues at all.

    If you already have Microsoft licenses that includes 1TB for OneDrive, that could be your best bet.
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  • Windows Essentials Server 2012-16 and the Essentials Role in DataCenter editions ran redirected folders like clockwork. I have redirected folders running on my home network for years. Gaming rigs, My workstation. All the kid's windows boxes. 

    I doubt the Essentials role in 2019-2x does it. MS crippled it removing the good stuff like client backup and remote web access to your redirected files over the internet. 

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