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Folder Redirection and Travel

April 26, 2010
I have recently been on a couple of trips with a laptop from home rather than work and have discovered something important: folder redirection (a feature of Windows Server than allows local files (like those in my documents to be kept on the server) really only works when travelling if you have offline files activated for the PC that is on the road. If you don’t, many applications fail (including Windows Live Writer, Windows Media Center etc.) because they can’t find the expected files and folders locally.
 
Unfortunately, enabling offline files is not without its downsides too. I disabled offline files for all of our home PCs because I found that it created sychonization issues between all of the PCs in our house. Emails that had been read in Outlook on one PC would show up as unread in Outlook on another PC. Similarly, edits made to a Word document on one PC would not be reflected when that document was opened on another PC.  These would not be issues in an environment in which users use only their own PC most of the time, but in our house, many users regularly use five different PCs scattered throughout the house. I never further diagnosed the problem because turning off offline files was an easy fix. If I had to guess however, I suspect that the problems were related to some combination of users’ habits not logging off one PC before logging on to another, and of putting PCs to sleep (by shutting the lid) shortly after use.
 
In any event, the fix I’ll try for the problem of travel is to designate a laptop as the PC for travel and enable offline files on just that PC.
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