Disappearing Folder Redirection Issues with Windows 7

imageThanks to a tip off from fellow MVP Darren Mar-Elia about fairly common issues with Folder Redirection in Windows 7. In short there is a pretty significant issue in Folder Redirection if configured incorrectly that could result in a loss of data for users. There is a mitigation of this issues however this is broken in Windows 7 Service Pack 1. This form post on the SDM Software web site goes into some very specific details about the problem but  below I am going to attempt to summaries the problem and fix for the issue so you can get Folder Redirection working more reliably in your organisation…

Folder Redirection Problem

You have Windows 7 with folder redirection enabled with the “Move contents to new location” option enabled and you then configure a new UNC path for redirection. This NEW path is simply a variation of the path the server that actually points to the exact same location. e.g. \\servername\share to \\DFSNAME\Share . Then when the computer tries to moves the contents of folder to the new (same) location it deletes what it thinks is the old (same) location and thus the users files are deleted. This is BAD! (I hope you have a recent backup)

How to prevent the Folder Redirection from deleting files on move

So to prevent this from happening in Windows there is a Group Policy setting called Verify old and new Folder Redirection targets point to the same share before redirecting that checks if the new and old locations are the same before moving the files. In theory if it detects the source and destination are the same it only move the registry pointer to the new location on the server and leaves all the files in place… However… In Windows 7 Service Pack 1 this option is broken…. BOTHER!!!

Side Note: As pointed out in the forum post it is CRAZY that this is NOT the default behaviour as if you do not configure this option you could inadvertently delete user data. So… Even if this problem does not affect you I would still be seriously be considering enabling this option for your environment.

How to fix the Verify Old and New Folder redirection option

Thankfully earlier this month Microsoft released a KB that fixes this issue https://support.microsoft.com/kb/2799904 . So you can now implement Folder Redirection in your environment configured in a way that will not result in a loss of data…. Phew…

So what does all this mean… ?

1. If you have folder redirection enable, it is (in my opinion) MANDATORY to enable the Verify old and new Folder Redirection targets point to the same share before redirecting option to prevent the possibility of losing user data.

Thanks again to Darren for the tip… and I hope this helps in your environment in avoiding the issues with using  folder redirection.

2. But you also need to apply KB2799904 to fix the Verify Old and New Folder Redirection Target option if you are running Windows 7 Service Pack 1

6 Comments

  1. Pingback: How to configure Roaming Profiles and Folder Redirection

  2. Great info! When you’re actually moving Folder Redirection shares to a new server (and you want to copy the data), would you recommend using the “Move contents to new location” and let the user’s workstation actually move the data? Or would you recommend doing this in another way if you have many laptops with Offline Files enabled for their redirected folders?

  3. Hi,

    I was hoping your post would address my specific issue, but I don’t think it does and I’m pulling my hair out and was hoping you could help. I’m curious if you have a best practice or guidance for the following situation:

    Environment:
    – Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
    – Windows 7 Pro SP1 (All user desktops)
    – Drive Mappings
    * All drive mappings are mapped via login script (VB file)
    * All drive mappings are pointing to DFS shares (\\\\)
    – Home Areas
    * Users home areas (H Drive) are using Folder Redirection and therefore using Offline Folder Sync by default (Windows 7 Design)
    * Home Areas are also being mapped via DFS Share (\\\\)

    Issue:
    – Users will be disconnected from ALL DFS mapped network drives (Outlined in detail in the below link)
    * When this happens, users can’t access any drives mapped via DFS
    * They can still access their home areas (H Drive) because folder redirection has made this drive available via Offline Folders
    * Even though DFS Shares are not accessible, regularly mapped shares (\\servername\share) are accessible and network resources can be PING’d)
    – Using Offline Files on DFS Shares / all shares are going offline
    http://blogs.technet.com/b/netro/archive/2011/01/24/using-offline-files-on-dfs-shares-all-shares-are-going-offline.aspx

    Possible Solutions (Hotfix vs Offline Files GPO)
    1. I’ve found two possible MS Hotfixes to applies (links below), but I’ve always been weary about applying hotfixes. I was also hoping to solve this issue via GPO
    Hotfixes
    A. 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/kb/981872
    B. You cannot access offline files that were configured in a DFS namespace on a Windows 7-based client computer
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2705233

    2. Possible Offline File Configuration Changes (via GPO)
    A. Offline files always wants to set \\dfsroot\data share offline
    http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windows/en-US/a5d9c57a-f571-40bf-bd08-8171d936874f/offline-files-always-wants-to-set-dfsrootdata-share-offline?forum=w7itpronetworking
    B. Configuring New Offline Files Features for Windows 7 Computers Step-by-Step Guide
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff633429(v=ws.10).aspx

    Anything you can do to help or shed some more light on a solution would be greatly appreciated. I’ve recently upgraded all of my 35 users to new hardware and Windows 7 Pro in an attempt to address performance issues and aging hardware, and now I’m dealing with this very sporadic network access problem that didn’t exist when they were running WinXP WITHOUT Offline Files enabled.

    Sorry for such a long comment…. I hope this was not an inappropriate place to make this post/request.

    Thanks,
    Rob

  4. Pingback: Disappearing Folder Redirection Issues with Windows 7

  5. I have had a similar problem and im still looking for a solution to recover the lost documents, users were configured to access their documents offline on their H:drive but one day as i was rebuilding the H:drive i discovered that they had lost documents when they connected back on the H:drive, is there a chance to recover this documents?

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