Special folders are the ones that are created by Windows operating system for the storage of data files. These include Documents, Videos, Music, Pictures, and Downloads folders. Program Files and Windows folders can also be considered special folders, but they cannot be redirected to Work Folders. The reason is that the contents of Program Files and Windows folders are device-specific and syncing them with another device’s (servers’) Windows folder, for instance, may cause problems in your device. The post explains how to redirect special folders to Work Folders.
There are 13 folders that can be configured using the group policy, but not all folders are suitable to be redirected to Work Folders. The latter are special folders designated by your network admins to sync with the server copies so that you and the server copies are the same. You can work on files in Work Folders and save them on any platform. Next time the device syncs with the server, it updates the copies of files in Work Folders on Servers. Same way, if anyone updated files on the server, it will update the copy of the file located in your Work Folders. That is, after each sync, all files on your device will be up to date with the server copies and vice versa.
If your IT admin feels the need to redirect some folders to Work Folders instead of creating new folders, he or she can do it by redirecting the folders. It is as easy as opening properties and changing the path of the folder as shown in the next section of this post. You can do this for special folders as well – documents, music, video, etc.
Some folders contain device-specific information – for example, the App Data folder on Windows machines. It will contain information related to all the files on your device and not about the program files on the server. If an attempt is made to sync both your App Data folder and server’s App Data folder, the files will change and your applications/programs might not work properly. No need to say that server would contain programs that are not installed on your machine. So a sync would create new folders related to those programs and would sync them to your machine – resulting in the junk as these files are of no use without the programs being installed on your machine.
Redirection is the concept of being able to sync only data folders with server copies. In case your device needs special applications that default to save files in Work Folders, the applications would have to be installed separately on your device or devices. You can’t expect the application programs to sync and get installed using Work Folders because plenty of other things are also related to program files – one of the major things being the Windows registry and the App Data folder. So we can safely say that Work Folders are meant for data files only.
Example of redirection of Special folders to Work Folders
The base of redirection is to create a new GPO where you tweak a folder’s properties so that it points to Work Folders location. In this example, as presented on the Microsoft blog, we are creating a new GPO to redirect special folder Documents to Work Folders. Here is how to go about it:
- Create a GPO
- Navigate to User Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Folder Redirection -> Documents
- Change the settings to BASIC so that everyone’s Document folder is included in Work Folders
- Change the settings under Target Folder Location to Redirect to Following Location
- Change Root Path to %systemdrive%\users\%username%\Work Folders
Then sync with user devices. This will make Documents, a part of Work Folders. Though it will not show Work Folders in Windows File Explorer, the work saved to Documents will be synced as you created the above GPO.