BranchCache Step-by-Step Guide: Demonstrate Hosted Cache Mode in a Test Lab

Updated: July 13, 2011

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

BranchCache is a wide area network (WAN) bandwidth optimization technology that is included in some editions of the Windows Server® 2008 R2 and Windows® 7 operating systems.

To optimize WAN bandwidth, BranchCache copies content from your main office content servers and caches the content at branch office locations, allowing client computers at branch offices to access the content locally rather than over the WAN.


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BranchCache modes

When content is cached on client computers in the branch office, BranchCache is deployed in distributed cache mode. Distributed cache mode is not depicted in this step-by-step guide.

When content is cached on a server in the branch office, BranchCache is deployed in hosted cache mode.

This guide provides instructions for deploying BranchCache in hosted cache mode in a test lab environment.

Content server

To deploy BranchCache, you must deploy a content server. This guide provides instructions for deploying a file server content server using the File Services server role in Windows Server® 2008 R2 in a test lab environment.

Test Lab Scenario Overview

In this BranchCache hosted cache mode scenario, there is one BranchCache content file server, one BranchCache hosted cache server, and two client computers.

In a real world scenario, the content server is installed at your organization’s main office, while the client computers and hosted cache server are installed at a branch office. In addition, the branch office is connected to the main office with DirectAccess, a virtual private network (VPN) connection, or using some other remote access technology.

In this test lab scenario, all four computers are installed on the same local area network (LAN) segment and are connected to a network hub using Ethernet cables. With this test lab configuration, the network hub replaces the VPN or DirectAccess connection that would exist in the real world scenario.

Content servers and content information

When you deploy a BranchCache-enabled file server, the file server automatically generates identifiers for the content at the moment when the content is first requested by a BranchCache-enabled client computer. These content identifiers are called content information.

When a client requests content for the first time, the file server computes content information as it transmits the content to the client. The file server then stores the content information for subsequent client requests.

For this guide, however, instructions are provided so that you can manually generate content information before client computers attempt to access the content. Because of this, the content information exists prior to the first request for the content by the first client computer.

Requirements for BranchCache

Following is a list of operating systems that support BranchCache functionality. To successfully deploy BranchCache in a test lab environment, you must use operating systems that support BranchCache.

Operating systems for BranchCache client computer functionality

To perform the steps in this guide, you must have two physical or virtual client computers that are running one of the following operating systems:

  • Windows® 7 Enterprise

  • Windows® 7 Ultimate

Operating systems for BranchCache content server functionality

To perform the steps in this guide, you must have one physical or virtual server computer to be used as a BranchCache content Web server that is running one of the Windows Server® 2008 R2 family of operating systems, with the following exceptions:

  • In Windows Server® 2008 R2 Enterprise Core Install with Hyper-V, BranchCache is not supported.

  • In Windows Server® 2008 R2 Datacenter Core Install with Hyper-V, BranchCache is not supported.

Operating systems for BranchCache hosted cache server functionality:

  • Windows Server® 2008 R2 Enterprise

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise with Hyper-V

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Core Install

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Core Install with Hyper-V

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-Based Systems

  • Windows Server® 2008 R2 Datacenter

  • Windows Server® 2008 R2 Datacenter with Hyper-V

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter Core Install with Hyper-V


To perform the steps in this guide, virtual computers, also called virtual machines (VMs), can be used instead of physical computers if you are running a version of Windows Server 2008 R2 that supports Hyper-V, and if the operating system on the VM supports BranchCache.