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Folder Redirection

FastTrack can set up Folder Redirection to redirect folders to a network share and add the folders to offline folders on laptops.

FastTrack's Folder Redirection is similar, but not the same, as Folder Redirection with Group Policy. There are a few differences, read on for details.

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Folder Redirection

Folder Redirection Guide

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You can generally set up folder redirection in two ways - either from a script or from the Logon Script Builder, as shown below.

App Factory Logon Script Folder Redirection

The way you add a Folder Redirection is that you press "Add new". This will pop-up the script builder. If you were using the Folder Redirection commands in Scripting Mode, you would see the same pop-up using the script builder.

Adding Folder Redirection

Here you say what folder you want to redirect and the UNC path it should reside on. Note that you can use all FastTrack's functions, such as the "UserHomeDir" function. To see all functions, press the "Insert Function" button at the bottom. Using the "Create Folder Per User" checkmark will add the user's name to the UNC path. This should only be used, if the UNC path is a shared location. Generally, it it recommended to use the user's home directory to avoid privacy issues, because if a shared location is used, you would either have to pre-create the folders to make sure that users cannot browse their way to other user's folders. Or you would have to add permissions from time to time, as new users (and thereby new folders) appear.

Once the path is decided, a pop-up will be shown to add a condition. This pop-up exists in all lists of the Logon Script Builder to add a condition. This is where you have higher control than using Group Policy. You can add a condition to only use Folder Redirection on desktops for example (which as pre-selected). With Group Policy, you could not do this unless you had all your laptops or desktops in seperate OUs.

App Factory Logon Script Folder Redirection conditions

Generally be very careful testing before putting Folder Redirection into production.

One way to test is to first use the "User must be one specific user" condtion and test with one user only, and then change the condition, when testing is complete.

What happens at logon

Once you have set up Folder Redirection, a series of steps will happen at first subsequent logon for users. This is not entirely the same way it works with Group Policies. Let's say the documents folder is redirected to the user's home path:
  • Nothing happens, if the Folder Redirection is successfully in place already. The way you can check this, is to use properties in the Windows Explorer and see, where the folder points to.
  • Documents are copied the first time to the redirected target folder (using the CopyDir command, see here for details).
  • If the copy is successful, the folder on the computer is renamed to .old, to make sure you have a backup. For example C:\Users\AcmeUser\Documents would now be renamed to C:\Users\AcmeUser\Documents.old. If the source folder is locked or the copy cannot be completed, the process is aborted and no damage is done.
  • Folder Redirection is set in the system to point to the home drive folder, as the copy process was completed successfully.
  • Offline folders are attempted to be started. If you have not enabled offline folder with GPO, nothing happens.
  • The target folder is added to offline folders, if it is started and enabled. If you have enabled and started offline folders for desktops, it will also be added for those.

Laptops and tablets

When you add a new Folder Redirection, you will notice that the "Desktop" condition is pre-selected. This is because you should consider, if Folder Redirection is the right solution for non-desktops. You should consider, if a better solution is to only use it for desktops (that are always on the LAN) and then use the "Laptop Backup" feature of the Logon Script Builder instead.

Scripting Mode

When using the Logon Script Builder, it will build a script for you. If you are using Scripting Mode, you can manually write a script and use the same commands. The commands available for Folder Redirection are: SetUserFolderRedirection, RestoreUserFolderRedirection, SetSystemFolderRedirection and RestoreSystemFolderRedirection. You can also control Offline Folders using these commands: EnableOfflineFolders, DisableOfflineFolders, AddOfflineFolder, RemoveOfflineFolder and OfflineSyncFolder.

Recommended Group policy setting

You should generally enable the "Run logon script synchronously" group policy setting, when using Folder Redirection. This is to make sure that there are no folder locks performing the procedure above.

Group policy for running logon script synchronously
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Rating: 5 out of 5

"Use this as a replacement for VBScript and PowerShell"

"It's easy to include attractive GUI elements in FastTrack scripts, beyond the basic dialog boxes and text input that VBScript offers ... Another powerful feature is the ability to distribute scripts as Windows Installer (.msi) or standard .exe files. Although interesting in its own right, this ability results in a much more intriguing capability: to repackage -- or wrap -- software installers as .msi files without using snapshots. If you've ever created an .msi installer file from before-and-after system snapshots, for use with a software distribution system such as Group Policy or System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), then you know how hit-and-miss the results can be."

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Rating: 8 out of 10

"Faster than the rest"

"We found the FastTrack syntax to be more transparent and easier to learn than Microsoft's PowerShell – the editor in particular provided good support in this regard. Scripting mode offers a large number of options from the command set through to simple output of graphical elements, which cannot be achieved at all with PowerShell or other solutions or only with a significantly greater level of effort."

"Anyone wanting to tackle the many hurdles in everyday admin and especially anyone for whom logon scripts and client automation is a priority will benefit from the variety of functions offered by FastTrack."

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