Store User Data and Settings for Windows To Go

Applies To: Windows 8.1

When you deploy Windows To Go in your educational organization you can store user data and settings by using local storage, UE-V with Folder redirection, and Microsoft OneDrive.

In a typical Windows installation, user data and settings are stored on the computer’s internal disk. However, with Windows To Go, access to the internal disk is disabled. Data and settings are instead stored within the workspace itself on the USB drive. Microsoft does not recommend this scenario. The USB drive with the Windows To Go workspace contains no recovery options; therefore, if the drive is lost or damaged, the user will lose their data and settings. With this in mind, users need a method to access their data and settings from multiple locations when using the Windows To Go workspace.

Multiple options are available for access to data and settings from within a Windows To Go workspace. For example, UE-V with Folder Redirection and Offline Files is an excellent way to separate data and settings from the workspace and enable them to roam. These technologies require little infrastructure and are very easy to configure.

If the infrastructure or expertise is not available for these technologies, OneDrive is also an option. OneDrive can be used to synchronize both data and some Windows 8.1 settings (for example, Internet Explorer Favorites, desktop wallpaper, and so on) when logging on to the Windows To Go workspace with a Microsoft account.

Table 3 describes the options for data and setting storage.

Table 3. Options for Data and Setting Storage in Windows To Go

Local storage in the Windows To Go workspace UE-V with Folder Redirection OneDrive

Configuration

Requires no additional configuration

Requires agent installation in the workspace and Group Policy infrastructure

Requires minimal configuration; must log on with a Microsoft account for settings to be synchronized

IT expertise

None

IT pro

End user

Backup

None

Uses backup methods already in place in the infrastructure

Cloud-based service that is backed up in the datacenter

Data and settings roaming

None

Yes

Yes, as long as a Microsoft account is used

Bandwidth used

None

Intranet

Internet

UE-V with Folder Redirection

UE-V with Folder Redirection provides access to data and settings for a consistent desktop experience no matter where the user logs on. It is the recommended method for providing access to data and settings with Windows To Go, because it provides the best combination of flexibility and manageability for most infrastructures.

UE-V with Folder Redirection consists of several components that combine to provide a seamless virtualized experience:

  • UE-V. UE-V synchronizes users’ settings with a simple network file share. Changes made to Windows and application settings will be synchronized with the file share and available when users log onto their Windows To Go workspace or any domain-joined PC.

  • Folder Redirection. Folder Redirection stores user data and application-related data on a file share so that user can access the data regardless of logon location.

  • Offline Files. Offline Files ensure that files and folders are accessible even if the device is currently disconnected from the network. This includes the UE-V settings store and any redirected folders. Configuring Offline Files is essential if students are allowed to take their Windows To Go workspaces home with them.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage is a viable option for keeping user data in a Windows To Go deployment. When considering cloud storage, OneDrive and Office 365 provide many options.

Anyone can obtain OneDrive storage, and Microsoft provides up to 7 GB of space at no cost. Users can purchase additional space, if necessary. For more information, see OneDrive. OneDrive requires a Microsoft account, and students under the age of 13 require parent authorization. For more information, see Plan for Windows 8.1 Deployment: A Guide for Education.

Office 365 also offers a full version of Office, with storage available in the cloud. This is a viable option if Office will be the primary tool used in the Windows To Go deployment. Office 365 offers educational institution plans, including a free tier for students and faculty.

With OneDrive, both data and settings can be stored in the cloud. These settings can include things like Internet Explorer favorites, desktop, and other settings. If OneDrive is disabled through Group Policy, it would also be disabled for both data and settings storage. However, if you create a new OU for the Windows To Go drives, then OneDrive could be enabled for that OU specifically.

Additional resources

See also