Thursday, October 07, 2004

There Can Be Only One (copy that is)

My most recent goal, is around data management. I want only one original copy of the data, but I want this data on multiple computers. Using SBS, I was able to easly redirect My Documents to the server. This allows me to share the same My Documents experience on both mylaptop and my desktop. There are a few issues with offline files that I don't want to dive into on this post, perhaps I'll save it for a later
post if there is any interest.

My next issue was with Favourites. I add a favourite on my laptop, and then get frustrated I can't browse there on my desktop.

Since Favourites are not included in My Documents, they are not redirected as part of the My Document redirection to the server, they still live on the client computer, and as a result, are a different experience on both my desktop and my laptop.

Attempting to tackle this problem, I came across a gem in the registry editor:
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders This part of the registry tells the computer where your special folders are.

If you've already redirect My Documents, you'll notice the My Pictures, My Music, My Video and Personal are already redirected to the server, so here is what I did.

I changed the location of My Music from my profile to a generic share on the server, so I can share the Music with other people on the network. I also changed the location of Favorites (spelt incorrectly of course ;o) ) to point to \\servername\users\username\favorites just to keep them on the server.

You can probably set these via Group Policy, but seeing as I only had 2 computers, I did them by hand. I will probably want to setup a Group Policy so that more computers added to my network will have these settings, without much configuration needed by me.

There are two problems I've discovered with this approach, which I think I'm ok with, so you will have to decide for yourself if you are ok with them.

  • If "Offline Files" does not turn on but you still cannot access the server, IE will crash, creating a "Links" directory on the desktop. This commonly happens when you are joined to a network that has the same servername as your server, but you do not have access to this other server.

  • When you look at My Music in the Lunar start menu, it will actually say something like "Music on ServerName" instead of My Music, and if you put a description on the server, that whole description will appear there as well. It makes the start menu look a little busier, but that's it as far as I can tell.

Despite the issues, I feel this keeps my data in order (and backed up via the Server), moreover, if I add a favourite on my laptop, after a synch with the server, the favourite appears on my desktop, and vice-versa.

Happy Computing!


Anonymous said...

I think TweakUI PowerToy does this from a GUI.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't look possible to achieve this in GPO in SBS 2003. Only Application Data, Desktop, My Documents and Start Menu can be redirected from here. Or am I wrong?