This weeks setting is called “Do not automatically make redirected folders available offline and can be found under User Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > System > Folder Redirections and will work with Windows XP or later. As the name suggest this prevents any users redirected folder from being made available for offline use which is enabled by default.
This setting is particularly useful to configure on computers that are as used by multiple users as it eliminates the build up of multiple offline file caches on the hard drive. This is particularly important on Windows XP as all offline files try to synchronise even if the user does not have access to the files which causes file sync errors. The option also improves logon performance as it does not attempt a full offline sync of the cache when the user log’s on for the first time.
Not strictly a Group Policy video but it does relate heavy to my Roaming Profiles and Folder Redirection (a.k.a. User State Virtualization) blog post.
Anjli is a program manager on the Windows team. Adam Bomb met with her recently to talk about offline folders and folder redirection in Windows. She talked about how the technologies work, when they should be used, and some of the ways we’ve improved the performance from previous releases. for more info, check out the whitepaper "Choosing an Appropriate User State Virtualization Solution" The Windows team blog also has some good posts on User State Virtualization here and here.
For more video goodness, there’s a 3 part series on user state scenarios located here.
This week is another setting that controls a new offline files settings that was introduced in Windows 7 and this setting seems to be nothing short of AMAZING!!!
This setting is used to “Enabled Transparent Caching” and can be found under Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Networks > Offline Files. Unfortunately I have not had a chance to try this option for my self but reading the description it seems to be nothing short of hidden killer feature for Windows 7. The transparent cache feature kicks in on any offline files whenever latency to the file server goes above a certain limit. Now everyone’s environment is going to be different based on file server performance and network latency so be sure you do some testing first to get the right balance. When this setting is combined with last weeks “Configure Background Sync” option then you could drastically reduce latency to the file server and decrease bandwidth consumption. This options sound ideal for Direct Access and VPN users as their latency to the file server could vary drastically depending on the networking conditions or it could be configured to mask any performance issues that are noticed when a file server is being backed up.
If you are working in an environment that has Windows 7 deployed then this is definitely one setting you need to look at enabling. That being said deploy a Brach Cache to a remote site would still deliver more benefits as files that are cached as one computers cache can be users for other computers on the same LAN segment. This is as opposed to this option which only gives a bandwidth saving benefit for any files that have already been made available offline on that particular computer.
This weeks setting of the week is second is another one of the new Windows 7 offline file settings called “Configure Background Sync” which can be found under Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Networks > Offline Files. This setting allows you to configured the new Windows 7 feature that background sync’s offline file when a computer is in “Slow Link” mode.
Configured this setting would be very useful if you have a large number of computers at a single site that sync their files over a WAN link. In this case the background sync of a large number of users could cause a large amount of traffic. You could then use this setting to back off the sync interval. You may also want to do the opposite and crank up the sync interval to ensure that users files are being saved to the server as soon as possible.
The other scenario where this could be used if for users that are running Direct Access mode or a VPN and you just want to control the amount of traffic they push via their connection.
There is also and option called “Enabled Background Sync for shares in users selected “Work Offline” mode” which forces offline files to sync even when the users has manually chosen offline mode. I would be careful of this setting however as this behaviour might confuse as they might create the document thinking that it was not going to be saved to the server straight away for other people to view.
This weeks setting is a new configuration setting in Offline Files called “Exclude files form being cached”. This setting can be used by IT administrators to block any un-wanted file types from being made available for offline use. You can find this setting under Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Network > Office Files and it will only work on Windows 7.
This setting can be really useful when you have user policies in your environment that block certain types of files on your file servers such as *.jpg or *.mp3. When combined with Windows Server File System Filters you can use it to make some very tight controls on your corporate file servers.