By Matthew Schaeffer
Desktop & Applications Architect
Redirecting Appdata\Roaming is not functional in Windows 10 v1803. While we have yet to see official documentation from Microsoft that demonstrates that this is intentional or permanent, you’ll find the Location tab in Properties of the Roaming folder is gone. If redirection is specified in Group Policy, the client will log an error in the Application log “The folder is not redirectable.” This will be a surprise to the many firms that still rely on Roaming folder redirection to retain user settings between sessions, but we believe this change should be welcomed, as it presents an opportunity to rethink user environment management (UEM) and design a better solution.
Why is redirection of AppData so common? User settings are persisted across sessions or shared between sessions on different physical or virtual machines, providing a consistent user environment. Redirection allows persistence without including gigabytes of data in the roaming profile, so logon times are significantly faster.
What’s the downside? Many applications read and write to AppData heavily. Even with modern infrastructure bandwidth and all-flash storage, dozens or hundreds of user sessions put too much IO demand on file servers, often in small chunks with the same data being constantly overwritten. Data corruption and file locks can also be a problem if the user logs in from multiple sessions that are trying to write to the same files.
If Microsoft is blocking this practice, what should we be doing? Virtualization companies like Citrix and VMware provide UEM tools built in to their software offerings. There are a variety of specialized UEM software offerings from companies like AppSense, FSLogix, or Microsoft’s UE-V. Some are suited for virtual environments and others work well with physical desktops.
There are three keys to a successful UEM implementation. First, what specific folders and files need to be roamed? Consider a vacation to a beach hotel: You would pack your sunglasses and swim suit, the things that are customized to you. You wouldn’t take your table or your kitchen sink; the hotel has those and they work just as well. So, if the AppData directory were deleted in full, what specific files would need to be retained to provide a consistent user experience? The second key is working within the constraints of existing infrastructure. Where will profiles be stored in relation to the desktops? What bandwidth exists between them and how fast can data be written to disk? The third component is to find the existing UEM product to fit your use case or identify the correct product to purchase. Helient has diverse experience recommending and implementing UEM in Windows 10 and Windows 10 VDI environments. Please contact us so we can help your firm plan an effective UEM strategy for Windows 10.
Stay tuned for more information or for additional assistance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.