Group Policy Folder Redirection and Offline Files in Windows 7

I have seen a lot of posts on the internet showing the best way to get folder redirection working with offline files in Windows 7. Much of it has only sent me down a rabbit hole trying to resolve sync issues for laptop users. Additionally, many posts still reference the Win XP settings (User[and Computer] Configuration/Policies/Administrative Templates/Network/Offline Files) as the best way to get offline files working-but again a rabbit hole is the end result. I’ve even seen some who depart from Group Policy and have opted to run robocopy and mobsync in a logon/logoff scripted fashion. None of which resolved my problem.

I need to give those staff and teachers who use both a desktop and laptop the ability to always have their documents available. What I discovered is that enabling GPO folder redirection for users running Windows 7 implies the use of offline files. Let me state that again…enabling GPO folder redirection implies the use of offline files. There is no need to get crazy with the configuration. Offline Files is turned on by default in Windows 7, so once folder redirection is enabled, nothing else needs to be configured. The following steps are the solution I found worked best for our  end users.

Step 1. Create the group policy under the user based OU you want folder redirection enabled for (I will assume you know how to do this in Group Policy Management Console).

Step 2. Configure the policy: Select Basic, then Redirect to the user’s home directory.













Step 3. Configure the Settings: Here we leave the “Grant the user exclusive rights…” check box off-if you have home directories that have domain admin rights to them, watch out, checking this box may end up with files in the users folder unavailable during the next backup cycle. Since I am not using Win XP for any staff in this OU, keep the last check box unchecked as well.














Step 4: Test the configuration on a laptop. You may need to reboot or manually run gpupdate to force the new policy. Login, open explorer and view your home directory. Note the green sync icon on My Documents. Give the system a minute or two to perform a sync, or go into the control panel and select “manage offline files” then force a sync. Next disconnect from the network (I simply disconnected from the wireless connection at work).





Step 5: Review the Library/Documents folder on the user profile while disconnected.








As you can see, my home folder is disconnected, but my documents folder under my default library shows available folders and files.

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