For years I've been using folder redirection for all my desktop clients (Win7). I am looking to migrate all data to a new server/share. I have already created a new share with the same ACL and used robocopy to transfer the data along with file security information.(I'm not interested in DFS at this time.)

Can I just change the server in the GPO?

How does the "Move the contents of [FolderName] to the new location." setting effect this situation?

  • Q: How does the "Move the contents of [FolderName] to the new location." setting effect this situation? A: If that is enabled then Windows will move the data to the new location, negating the need to manually copy the data to the new location. – joeqwerty Sep 24 '14 at 15:26

I just mocked this up with a Windows 7 SP1 client to make sure my "gut" feeling was correct, and it was.

My settings were:

My Documents
Basic - Redirect everyone's folder to the same location
Redirect to the following location
Grant the user exclusive rights to My Documents - Unticked
Move the contents of My Documents to the new location - Ticked
Policy Removal - Leave the folder in the new location when policy is removed

Changing the server name in the GPO causes the Folder Redirect Client Side Extension (CSE) to copy all the files from the old folder to the new folder, even if the files exist in the destination path. I verified this by throwing the same 10GB test file in both the new and old locations and watching the client take several minutes to logon, stuck at "Applying Folder Redirection policy..."

In the past, I've made these types of migrations work by creating a new Folder Redirection GPO that I can apply on selectively using security filtering so that I can test w/o harming existing users. I move the files for my test users from the old location to the new location, put them in the group that allows the new Folder Redirection policy to apply, then logon and verify that the new redirection "takes".

This method is certainly a pain because you need to coordinate with users to be sure they're not logged-on and using their old folder when you move their files, but I wasn't able to come up with a good alternative that didn't result in users sitting waiting for the CSE to copy files. My experience, when users are required to wait, is that some fraction of the users will power-off the PC, increasing the risk that they're going to end up with a screwed-up non-deterministic mess. Yay, users!


I can confirm that when the "Move the contents of My Documents to the new location" box is unticked when the GPO first applies to the user subsequent changes to the path do not cause the CSE to copy the files to the new folder.

I can also confirm that when the "Move the contents of My Documents to the new location" box was ticked when the GPO first applied to the user, but subsequently is unticked at the same time that the path is changed in the GPO the CSE does not copy the files to the new folder.

I'm not certain that this behavior has always been this way, and I'm unwilling to mock it up with Windows XP to see.

If Offline Files is in play, too, you may want to have a look at the blog entry How to change the File Server Share for Folder Redirection in a way that the W7 Client can still access the Data on the Users Share and not to have the complete Data synced over the wire?, which describes using the FolderRedirectionEnableCacheRename registry value to allow the offline copy to be "renamed" instead of being resync'd across the wire.

Edit 2:

I compared the profiles before / after unticking the "Move the contents of My Documents to the new location" box and I am not seeing that it's cached anywhere in the registry. It appears that the CSE is checking this value's state in the SYSVOL every time it applies the GPO. That's also nice.

  • I believe this behavior only occurs if the "move the contents.." option is enabled. If this is not applied, it should not migrate the data to the new path. – Rex Sep 24 '14 at 14:52
  • @Rex - I'll double check that now. – Evan Anderson Sep 24 '14 at 14:53
  • @Rex - I dropped on an edit. I have one more scenario I want to test. I didn't think much about that, admittedly, because I always tick that box. My mind may be changing, however. – Evan Anderson Sep 24 '14 at 15:15
  • @Evan - Nathan's answer seems to conflict with yours. – Corey Sep 25 '14 at 14:29
  • So is there any way to have my cake and eat it too? I would like to move the files from the old server to the new server in bulk with robocopy and avoid the CSE from moving the files during the user's next login. But, I would also like to preserve the behavior of the CSE gathering any files that exist in the local profile. – Corey Sep 25 '14 at 23:48

Changing the GPO would be enough. The setting you're referencing is for the actual setup of folder redirection, That is, when the client processes the redirection it'll move all the local folders to the remote server. It doesn't affect "changes" to the server.

  • i don't think this is correct, based on other reading i've done – Corey Sep 30 '14 at 12:59

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