Fixing Broken Redirected Folders

Redirected folders are a blessing, when they work smoothly and result in thousands of otherwise-unprotected folders being stored on a safe server, backed up and available if a PC fails.

They can also be an infuriating mess when they go wrong. I recently tested a new redirected folders setup using a GPO and fresh fileserver. It didn’t quite work as it should have, so I unlinked the GPO, and ran

repadmin /syncall /AdeP

on the domain controller to force the change to all domain controllers, then

gpupdate /force

on my laptop to force the change to take effect, and logged off when prompted. When I logged back in, and when I clicked on my desktop, downloads, and documents folders in File Explorer, I got a hung window for ages, followed by a message saying the redirected folder was unavailable. It was still there on the server, of course.

A re-run of gpupdate /force made no difference – along with full reboots. I tried simply changing the location of the folders, but that dialogue was greyed out, not ot be edited. Nothing helped.

So, I had to fix it the hard way – with regedit. But even that was a pain. I had to log in as a local administrator account, then run an administrative command line, and inside that add the registry hive of the domain account to regedit – replace both instances of heavysoil with your domain username:

reg load HKU\heavysoil C:\Users\heavysoil\ntuser.dat  

then in the same command line run regedit and now I can see heavysoil in the HKEY_USERS section. Opening that up, I can then go to:

Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

You can see the paths of all the local folders, and the ones I needed to edit were obvious – they were stuck at \\fileserver\users$\%username%\Documents and so on, and needed changing back to %USERPROFILE%\Documents and %USERPROFILE%\Downloads respectively.

I could then close regedit, log off, and log back in to my heavysoil domain account – and immediately everything was back as it should be.

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