Here's the situation:

We have a large (5,000+ user) organization that is currently using folder redirection to manage the windows desktop icons. This folder is redirected to a network share where we can centrally manage the different sites and such. When a user tries to use a computer when the network is not available, they are unable to use any shortcuts in the Public folder. We only redirect the C:\Users\%username%\Desktop folder.

Does anyone have any suggestions of how to go about managing desktop icons? We still want a central location to manage these items, but find a way to keep the system working when the network is unavailable.

As a point of clarification, the network rarely goes down. We do have instances where a few computers do not have a network connection. Usually, something is simply unplugged. Since we have multiple sites, the line from a branch to the central office has gone down a few times. This is more of an attempt to maintain a positive end user experience when disconnected from the network.

  • A few things: Which desktop folder are you redirecting? The user's desktop or C:\Users\Public\Desktop? Do have Offline Files enabled? CSC should automatically make redirected folder available offline (space restrictions apply) this would allow users to create new shortcuts whilst offline, and sync when the network is back.
    – jscott
    Dec 30 '11 at 11:29
  • 2
    You have to elaborate on "network is down". Does this mean that all your 5000 clients go offline, or does a specific site go down? Is this all one big campus? Do you have more than one file server and DFS namespaces?
    – pauska
    Dec 30 '11 at 11:44
  • @pauska I edited the above post to be more specific. When I say "network is down" I mean there is no connection. Generally, this happens when someone unplugs a machine. Jan 3 '12 at 23:33

I think I see this problem differently to @Daniel. I don't approve of sneaky batch scripts to do that kind of thing.

Fix your goddamn network. If you've got 5000 users, and the network is unavailable, that's 5000 people unable to work. Potentially, very costly. It shouldn't be too difficult to use that as justification for some time, hardware (if required), and manpower to fix the network and make it more resillient to failures.

I'd say that should be prioritised higher than scripting a solution to hack around the real problem.

  • Now I read the question as not the entire network going down, but the network on 1 machine being down (e.g wireless going out of range). I think the OP needs to clarify a bit. Dec 30 '11 at 12:01
  • @TomO'Connor - You are missing the point of the question. I want to be able to have a good end user experience when the computer is disconnected from the network. Right now, the computer is unusable since the folder redirection of a user profile folder to a network share causes us to "loose" the profile. The desktop and start menu become blank and the only way to open a program is to navigate Program files. Something our users don't have the skill to do. Jan 3 '12 at 23:36
  • Configuring Cached folders on Windows 7/ 2k8r2 technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc755136.aspx @Doltknuckle Jan 4 '12 at 9:25
  • @TomO'Connor - So you're basically saying is to keep folder redirection and use offline files to keep everything synced? The link above talks about using BranchCache which seems to be more about caching files from a central data center on servers at remote sites. I don't think it applies to the situation I am in. Jan 6 '12 at 19:52

One of the other techs in our organizations came across something called Group Policy Preferences. It is new to Server 2008 and it seems really powerful. Here's a link for more information:


Inside this new feature is a "Shortcuts Preference extension". This allows you to mange shortcuts on the client machines using group policy. Since you are copying a file object to the local machine, you don't depend on an available network connection. The system is technically caching files locally, but it does so without the need for folder redirection and offline files.

I realize that I shouldn't answer my own questions, but this seems to be the best solution available. I'll try it out and update this answer if it doesn't work out.


I think the best solution is write a batch script that run as task on all clients and sync the networkshare to a local folder. Than change the Path in the folder redirection to the local folder. Nice tool to sync is robocopy.

  • We've tried this and it brings up a host of unintended problems. It does work, but it adds a level of complexity that we are trying to avoid. Jan 3 '12 at 23:38

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