New storage whitepaper: Home Directory Consolidation on Windows Storage Server 2012

Hi Folks.

I’d like to bring to your attention a new storage paper on home directory consolidation, which refers to the storage of user data and profiles in a centralized location instead of storing that same information on individual user PCs. I absolutely love having folder redirection and client side caching on my PCs! I can save a document on my laptop and turn to my desktop and when I open My Documents the document is there. When I unplug my laptop and get on a plane, all my files are available offline. It is so seamless I have stopped worrying about my data. My Documents folder is automatically backed up from the departmental server and I can recover anything I need from any machine I own.

The new paper is available for download here, the paper examines home directory consolidation on Windows Storage Server 2012 from these perspectives:

  • The challenges associated with storing user data locally on user PCs and the benefits of using Windows Storage Server 2012 to consolidate that same user data on shared storage.
  • Key technologies that support home directory consolidation, including prerequisites and an overview of the deployment process.
  • Complementary technologies in the Windows platform that can bring additional value to such deployments.

If you’re taking advantage of home directory consolidation today, then you’re probably already familiar with the core enabling technologies:

  • Folder Redirection and Offline Files, which are used together to redirect the path of local folders to a network location while caching the contents locally on user PCs for increased speed and availability.
  • Roaming User Profiles, which is used to redirect user profiles to a network location.

These three core technologies are covered in significant detail in the paper, which includes links to step by step deployment instructions on TechNet. The paper also covers new enhancements in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 that make these features even more useful, including:

  • Primary Computer support, which can be used to limit the use of Folder Redirection and/or Roaming User Profiles to only a user’s primary (i.e., specified) computers.
  • Optimized moving of redirected folders, which can be used to move the file share hosting redirected folders without any delays or potential data loss for the user.
  • Always Offline mode, which can be used to reduce bandwidth usage and provide users with faster access to files by always working offline, even when connected through a high-speed network connection.
  • Cost-aware synchronization, which can help reduce data costs due to synchronization of Offline Files while using metered connections or roaming on another provider’s network.
  • Disabling offline files on individual redirected folders, which provides the ability to specify which folders to exclude from caching locally, thereby reducing the Offline Files cache size and the time required to synchronize Offline Files.

The paper can be found on the Microsoft download center at Check it out and let me know what you think…

Scott M. Johnson
Windows Storage Server