Access to a redirected folder or home drive disconnects regularly on a computer running Windows 7

This is my first post back after a few months. I have been heads down with Windows 7 migrations. To date we have deployed over 1,100 seats of Windows 7 and FINALLY had a moment to come up for some air.

Back in December I blogged about setting up a folder redirection policy for Win7 clients. Interesting enough, we hit an issue when deploying Windows 7 using a folder redirection policy. From speaking to a number of people the issue we are seeing is where the My Documents folder shows offline even though the client machine (desktops and laptops) is connected to the network. There were a number of things we tried (rejoining the PC to the domain, undocking the laptops, disabling wireless, etc.), but none of these were permanent fixes.

One of the things you can do is investigate the OfflineFiles Operational logs (Eventvwr–>Application and services–>Logs–>Microsoft–>Offline Files–>Operational Logs.Check to make sure the OfflienFiles is enabled. If you right-click on the Operation logs under OfflineFiles, Properties, you should be able to check to see if they’re enabled. If not, enable them, reboot the machine and keep it running for 30 minutes. If you don’t find anything there, you might want to try this hotfix.

981872  Access to a redirected folder or a home drive disconnects regularly on a computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;981872

Folder Redirection Policy for Windows 7

Raise your hand if you’re using Windows XP in your corporate environment and make use of a VPN client to connect back to your network resources when you’re off campus. Does your company leverage any type of manual folder redirection for your My Documents folder to point to a network location? If so, how many of you struggle with accessing your home directory (e.g. My Documents) when you’re working away from the office. This is a very common complaint amongst the information worker. The issue is, when you go home, logon to your laptop, connect to the VPN, and click on your My Documents, you don’t have access to your data. My wife complains to me, “Why can’t I access my home drive?!” This is because when you logon to your machine, you’re not connected to the corporate network. A workaround is either knowing the UNC on the network you can browse to access your data. While this can be annoying for some, but an annoyance anyway, there are solutions out there that can help.

My first piece of advice is to eliminate the use of the VPN client altogether. There are technologies out there that can provide a more , Cisco’s AnyConnect or Microsoft’s Direct Access solution. Depending on customer requirements, you’ll need to examine the clientessVPN solutions that are out on the market.

As part of your Windows 7 Deployment Project, you may consider leveraging group policies to create a more secure and managed desktop environment. Folder redirection is one of the policies you might want to consider. Generally speaking most organizations have a User Data Policy, which dictates where user data should be stored. In the corporate environment it is a very good idea to backup user data to a network location such as  SharePoint, Network Share, Home Directory, etc. Alternatively, the use of external devices such as USB, external hard disk, etc. can be used. Folder redirection policy is a great way to ensure that as a user logs on, their documents are pointed to a network location.

When creating a new User Account in Active Directory Users & Computers (ADUC), you have the ability to create a Home Folder to point to a network location. One of the most common scenarios is to map a Drive Letter to point to a specific UNC on a filer where you would like to store the user’s My Documents folder.

Additionally, if your intention is to implement Windows RE into your deployment solution, Documents Folder Redirection is a critical piece of the ability to self restore a PC. If the user’s primary source data is not kept on a Network Share, when the System Image Restore process is initiated, there is some potential for the loss of all local data.

Configuring Folder Redirection Policy in Windows 7

Step by Step

1)      In the GPMC, right-click the OU on which you want to apply Folder Redirection (at the time of this writing the policy is configured on Test OU – Test – Users) , and choose “Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here.”

2)      Name the GPO, say, “Win 7 Documents Folder Redirection

3)      Right-click on the policy and choose Edit.

4)      Drill down to Folder Redirection: Select User ConfigurationPoliciesWindows SettingsFolder Redirection

5)      Go to the Documents folder, right-click and choose Properties.

6)      On the Target tab make the Setting set to Basic – Redirect everyone’s folder to the same location.

7)      The Target folder location is set to Redirect to the following location

8)      The Root Path is set to %HomeShare%\My Documents

9)      Click Apply

Enjoy!

Rich

Adding Network Printers as a Standard User in Windows 7

If your environment consists of users that are local admins on the machine, this is something you should really try to get away from. Running in full administrative mode in a Windows environment is probably one of the most dangerous things that can be done from an security standpoint. One of the luxury’s of User Account Control is that it allows you to elevate privileges when needed. One of the many advantages of deploying Windows 7 is that standard users can do more then what they could do previously with Windows XP. A very common computing task for the everyday worker is installing a Network Printers. I don’t know about you, but, the last thing I want to have to do is call the IT Service Desk to assist me with this effort. Ugh! 🙂

In Windows 7, as a standard user, you’re not able to do this without making a few changes to the supporting infrastructure first. There is a computer policy you can deploy to Win7 clients in your environment.

Step by Step

  1. In the GPMC, right-click the OU on which you want to apply the Windows 7 Printer Policy, and choose “Create a GPO in this domain, and link it here.”
  2. Name the GPO something appropriate, “Windows 7 Printers”
  3. Right-click on the new GPO, and choose Edit from the shortcut menu to open the Group Policy Management Editor.
  4. Drill down to Printers by choosing Computer Configuration_Policies_Administrative Templates: Policy definition. Click Printers and double click on Point and Print Restrictions.
  5. Enable the Policy
  6. Disable the “Users can only point and print to these servers”
  7. Enable the “Users can only point and print to machines in their forest”
  8. Do not show warning or elevation prompt for both “When installing drivers for a new connection” and “When updating drivers for an existing connection.”

Here is a snippet of the Computer Configuration Policy:

Note: If you want to restrict this policy specifically for Windows 7 machines, use the following WMI filter:

Query looks like this: “Select * from WIN32_OperatingSystem where Version=’6.1.7600″ and ProductType=1”