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Redirecting folders to a mapped drive letter/cloud storage via GPO

    Question

  • Hi,

    I've seen similar questions on the forum, but nothing I've seen quite matches what I'm looking for.

    I work at a University in a labs environment so we have a lot of "generic" PCs (Win7 currently, but moving to Win10 in the summer of 2017), each potentially used by a lot different individual students. As such, we need to redirect things like Documents/Pictures/Music/etc. to external locations. In the past this has been done using on-site storage, and using a GPO to redirect these folders to a network share like \\server\%username%. So when a student is using an office product and they go to save something, the default location is that external drive rather than the local PC.

    However we would like to be able to leverage cloud storage; this would alleviate some of the infrastructure support we currently provide, as well as providing greater portability of data to the end user community in the long run.

    We've found a product which will map a user's cloud storage consistently to a specific drive letter based on the storage provider (e.g. we can map Google Drive to X:\ each time a user logs in, OneDrive to W:\, Dropbox to V:\, etc.). So we can ensure a consistent path (via drive letter) to the user's cloud storage account, based on the provider in question.

    The mapping product is also very light-weight, in that it doesn't require the system to sync all of the contents of the cloud location to the local PC (which would be unsupportable in a labs environment). The only items synced are those currently open and in use, and as soon as the user closes them, they are no longer "present" (synced) on the local PC.

    We currently provision our students with a google drive account, so we know that we can have a consistently mapped cloud storage location for each user (e.g. a google drive mapped as X:\).

    The problem I've run into (as I'm sure you can see) is that setting up folder redirection using a GPO requires a UNC path, and that I do not have. I have a consistently mapped drive letter, but no consistent UNC path defining the same location for all users.

    Is there any way to use Group Policy to redirect using the drive letter instead of a UNC path?

    Thank you in advance!

    Monday, December 19, 2016 1:57 PM

Answers

All replies

  • > Is there any way to use Group Policy to redirect using the drive letter instead of a UNC path?
     
    Yes, although not that easy as using native FR in GP...
     
    I did a 10 part blog series on that 2 years ago, but it's only available in german. Maybe the screen shots will be enough to explain :) And google can assist in translating.
     
     
    • Marked as answer by Piobwallace Thursday, December 22, 2016 6:17 PM
    Monday, December 19, 2016 3:49 PM
  • Viele danke!

    This looks like an excellent place for me to start; I'll take some time to look through this and see if it will address the needs in my current environment. :)

    Tuesday, December 20, 2016 1:58 PM
  • Just a quick follow up:  a lot of good information in the link provided (even when viewing through Google Translate :) ). This led me in the direction I needed to go, again: many thanks! Flagging your response as having answered my questions!

    Frohe Feiertage!

    Thursday, December 22, 2016 6:16 PM
  • > Just a quick follow up:  a lot of good information in the link provided (even when viewing through Google Translate :) ).
     
    Thanks - so finally it was worth crafting that stuff together :)
     
    > Frohe Feiertage!
     
    Merry christmas to all around the net and may god bless you!
     
    Friday, December 23, 2016 3:40 PM
  • Hi,
     
    Am 19.12.2016 um 14:57 schrieb Piobwallace:
    > The problem I've run into (as I'm sure you can see) is that setting up
    > folder redirection using a GPO requires a UNC path,
     
    No. Thats wrong. You can set it to whatever you like, even Variables or
    Drives are allowed. Use the dropdown menu and change to "This location".
    Ignore any error ...
     
    The only problem you need to make sure is: The drive letter must be
    present at login time, because Folder Redirection only works in foreground.
     
    If you would use OneDrive, It would be e.g. for documents:
    %userprofile%\OneDrive\Documents
     
    Thats the default local path of the fiels to sync with OneDrive.
     
    Dropbox works nearly the same.
     
    Mark
    --
    Mark Heitbrink - MVP Group Policy - Cloud and Datacenter Management
     
    Homepage:  http://www.gruppenrichtlinien.de - deutsch
     
    Friday, December 23, 2016 5:24 PM