How to Configure Folder Redirection

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Administrators manage Folder Redirection settings by using the Group Policy snap-in.

To configure Folder Redirection:

  1. To start the Group Policy snap-in from the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in, click Start, point to Programs, click Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.

  2. In the MMC console tree, right-click the domain or the OU for which to access Group Policy, click Properties, and click Group Policy.

  3. To create a new Group Policy object (GPO), right-click the domain or OU you want to associate with the GPO, select Properties from the context menu, and then in the domain or OU containers Properties page, click the Group Policy tab.

  4. Click New, and type the name to use for the GPO. For example, type Redirect MyDocuments GPO.

  5. Click Edit to open the Group Policy snap-in and edit the new GPO.

  6. In the Group Policy console, expand the User Configuration, Windows Settings, and Folder Redirection nodes. Icons for the personal folders that can be redirected will be displayed.

  7. To redirect any of these folders, right-click the folder name, click Properties, and then select one of the following options from the Setting drop-down box:

    • Basic - Redirect everyone's folder to the same location. All folders affected by this Group Policy object will be stored on the same network share.

    • Advanced Specify locations for various user groups. Folders are redirected to different network shares based on security group membership. For example, folders belonging to users in the Accounting group can be redirected to the Finance server, while folders belonging to users in the Sales group are redirected to the Marketing server.

  8. On the My Documents Properties page, in the Target folder location drop down box select Create a folder for each user under the root path. In the Root Path text box, type the name of the shared network folder to use, or click Browse to locate it. Note: Unlike Windows 2000, you do not need to type in the %username% variable. The folder redirection code will automatically create a My Documents folder for each user, inside a folder based on their user name. For example, type \\FolderServer\MyDocumentsFolders rather than \\FolderServer\MyDocumentsFolders\%username% as you would on Windows 2000.

  9. In the folders Properties dialog box, select the Settings tab, configure the options you want to use, and then click Finish to complete the Folder Redirection. The available options for settings are:

    • Grant the user exclusive rights to My Documents. If selected, this sets the NTFS security descriptor for the %username% folder to Full Control for the user and local system only; this means that administrators and other users do not have access rights to the folder. This option is enabled by default. Note: Changing this option after the policy has been applied to some users will only effect new users receiving the policy.

    • Move the contents of My Documents to the new location. Moves any document the user has in the local My Documents folder to the server share. This option is enabled by default.

    • Leave the folder in the new location when policy is removed. Specifies that files remain in the new location when the Group Policy object no longer applies. This option is enabled by default.

    • Redirect the folder back to the local user profile location when policy is removed. If enabled, specifies that the folder be copied back to the local profile location if the Group Policy object no longer applies.

      The My Documents Properties page provides two additional options for the My Pictures folder:

      Make My Pictures a subfolder of My Documents. If selected, when the My Documents folder is redirected, My Pictures remains a subfolder of My Documents. By default, My Pictures automatically follows the My Documents folder.

      Do not specify administrative policy for My Pictures. If selected, Group Policy does not control the location of My Pictures; this is determined by the user profile.

An important point to note is that you should not pre-create the directory defined by user name. Folder Redirection will handle setting the appropriate ACLs on the folder. If you choose to pre-create folders for each user, be sure to set the permissions correctly (see the permissions tables in the Best Practices section later in this paper).

For more information about using the Group Policy snap-in and the Folder Redirection extension, refer to the Windows Server 2003 online Help and the Step-by-Step Guide to User Data and User Settings at

Changing settings after Folder Redirection policy has been applied.

It is possible to change the Folder Redirection options on the Settings tab after the policy has been applied, you should note that changing the value of the Grant the user exclusive rights to <folder name> setting will only apply to new users effected by the policy. Any existing users that received the policy will use the original Grant the user exclusive rights to <folder name> setting.

Folder Redirection and environment variables

The folder redirection client side extension is only able to process two environment variables: %username% and %userprofile%. Other environment variables such as %logonserver%, %homedrive% and %homepath% will not work with folder redirection.

Folder Redirection and mapped drives

Because folder redirection is processed early in the logon process, drives mapped via logon scripts (including the homedrive for folders other than My Documents), the folder redirection client side extension is not able to redirect to these locations. At the time that redirection takes place, the drives do not exist hence redirection fails.

Folder Redirection Troubleshooting.

Folder redirection processing contains 5 steps:

  1. Determine which folders to redirect based on changes to policy at logon time.

  2. Determine desired redirected location and verify access.

  3. If folder does not exist: create folders, set ACLs.

  4. If folder exists, check ACLs and ownership.

  5. If desired, move contents.

Folder redirection failures only affect the folder redirection extension on a per folder basis. If you're pre-creating folders rather than letting the folder redirection extension automatically create the folder, typical errors include:

  • Redirecting to a folder that is incorrectly ACLd.

  • User is not the owner of the folder.

  • Destination does not exist.

Enabling logging

In addition to logging events in the Application Event log, Folder Redirection can provide a detailed log to aid troubleshooting. To create a detailed log file for folder redirection, use the following registry key:

  • HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Diagnostics

  • Set: FdeployDebugLevel = Reg_DWORD 0x0f


The log file can be found at: %windir%\debug\usermode\fdeploy.log

Using Logon Scripts to Redirect Folders

Although using Group Policy to redirect users folders is the recommended method, there are alternate ways to achieve similar results. You can use logon scripts to set the values of the User Shell Folders key in the registry, which will give you basic functionality similar to Folder Redirection.

Alternatively, you could use Windows NT 4.0 system policies to set the appropriate values. However if you choose to do this, you loose the advantages of using Group Policy to set folder paths, such as automatic moving of files when the path changes, and the registry settings will persist.