How Do Use Your Users Shared Folders? RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • I've been using my WHS for sometime now, however I still hadn't see how to make use of the Users shares?

    My partner has a laptop and I have a desktop PC, so my files are stored on my desktop and her files on her laptop. We both use Microsoft Live Mesh on our respective PC's so any critical files I have I can access from my machine at work as part of my Mesh or online at mesh.com. If I want to access a file that's not in my Mesh, I can RDP to my machine using the WHS RDP Proxy.

    I'd like to hear how some of the users here make use of the Users shared directories to access their files. I know some people redirect the My Documents folder to the WHS however my experience of this is that it's too slow for my wifes laptop over 802.11g wireless.

    Looking forward to all your thoughts.


    Richard Green, MCSA Windows Server 2003
    Saturday, April 17, 2010 7:36 AM

All replies

  • A user folder on your server can be used for storing files that you want protected but immediately accessible on whatever home computer you log into. In your environment, you may not need to use your user folder; that's not uncommon.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Saturday, April 17, 2010 1:49 PM
  • Hi,

    On my home network the "Users\{username}" shared directories are set private to every user. It is used for (temporarely) storing data safely on the server only, accessible from every PC the users logs on to as well as through remote acess. The "public" shared folder is used for (temporarely) sharing files between all WHS users.

    Note the addition "temporarely": generaly a dedicated shared folder with proper access is created for more permanent user storage.

    - Theo.

    No home server like Home Server
    Sunday, April 18, 2010 10:01 PM
  • Hi Richard,

    I've been running Home Server for a year or so now and wondered the same things about the best way to use the user folders.

    I used to find the same speed problems you mention when redirecting local user folders to the WHS box, however since upgrading all of my home PC's to Win7 I have noticed it is no longer an issue - I'm not sure if this is something to do with the way it handles the network traffic or caches the files? Or maybe moving my sofa a few metres closer to the router has helped out... who knows.

    Regardless that is now my preferred use for WHS, redirecting Documents, Favourites, Desktop, Downloads and Saved Games so that they keep in sync between all my computers without needing additional services such as Live Mesh.

    I have also been experimenting with setting up a 'web access' user and utilising that user folder as my live web folder while travelling - DropBox style.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010 11:50 PM
  • Richard,


    I’ve been using WHS for 5-months and have installed it in two client locations.  Truly WHS for Small Business is how computer were intended for use in the first place. Breaking an old habit is not easy. That said here’s how my clients find WHS useful as a collaboration tool.


    WHS is a great tool for SOHO and organizations that need to share with person who may or may not be physically located at their organizations.  I have a contractor that does customized landscaping.  He has to provide drawings and construction technical documents for the builders. He has to get bids on products.  He sets up a folder specific to the project.  He assigns security profile for his partners. They have found upload speeds to be very acceptable.  Wireless devices see some degradation. and download to be of no problem.


    I would not make my entire “MyDocuments” folder available.  Think of it just as a live meeting. You bring only to the session what’s needed to move the ball forward.


    Finally, there has to be some internal rules of how you plan to share data.  If someone opens a file and make changes how will files be renamed?  Who has the rights to update etc.


    My clients find there is no real reason to RDP to computers unless there is an application that is not on their own computers.  File sharing is the real objective
    Monday, April 19, 2010 3:20 AM
  • I have my family members in various countries, but the mail is still being sent to my home address. I scan all the mail and put it in their user folders. If they get anything really important, I might send a copy to the email. This way, they know where to find everything. Some family members are allowed to view the files but not change it due to varying computer skills.
    Monday, April 19, 2010 7:43 AM
  • Although it won't apply to your situation here's what I use them for. Aside from the standard files I have a four extra folders named

    Rated G

    Rated PG

    Rated PG 13

    Rated R

    Each of my children has only access to the folders that are near their age range. they have no access to the generic Video folder and I use that to store movies until I move them to the appropriate folder.

    Since I don't always agree with the movie ratings I also have a shortcut to each movie in the folders. I then copy the shortcuts to each childs desktop. This will give them access to only specific movies in each folder and reserve the others for when they get a bit older.


    Yes I know many kids are good at hacking and the shortcuts are a very, very basic protection. But I just don't see my 4 or 6 year old going looking for movies that aren't already in their folder. The older kids I'm not as worried about.

    Monday, April 19, 2010 3:52 PM
  • I signed on here tonight to ask the exact same question.  I have consolidated all my "stuff" from our various computers onto my new WHS box -- except for the stuff in our Documents folders.  I still don't know how to proceed, and hopefully some more people will weigh in on this.

    Maybe it depends on what your goals are.  Here are mine:

    • Each user's documents should be available from any computer they sign into.
    • It should work with both our PCs and the iMac.

    I guess that's about it.  I've been thinking about this for so long that I thought the list would be longer. :-)  I think that I would just point "My Documents" to the user's shared directory and call it a day, but I'm concerned about a couple things.  First, if the server is down for some reason then nobody has access to any data, right?  (Or is that where Offline Files come in?)  Second, moving data to the server will undoubtedly introduce some lag time.  What do you do about applications like VMWare that store the virtual machines in My Documents?  Do you evaluate each application's data on a case-by-case basis and relocate the most performance-needy ones back to a local drive?

    So then with these goals in mind, it seems like there are two ways to go.  You can directly store data in the user's shared directory (and possibly keep a local copy with Windows' Offline Files feature -- which I'm not very familiar with), or you can keep all data on local drives and then use a sync tool to push it out to the server.  And *that* is where I am stuck, because I don't know which way is the "right" way to go.  The first way is probably easiest to set up but I hate it at work when you're in a hurry to sign off and you have to sit through that Synchronizing stage.

    Anyone else have any other ideas on the best way to make a user's data available from any computer in the home network?


    Wednesday, April 21, 2010 7:33 AM
  • I was using a Small Business Server in my home for about 6 years but decided to move to WHS.  Since I was historically using folder redirection of users' document folders to the SBS, I continued to use the WHS user folders in the same way.  It is much more of a manual process to move the location of document folders of each user on each PC to the user folders of the WHS, but my family is so used to sitting down at whatever PC in the home and having full access to their documents.  The desktop, favorites, documents, music, pictures, and video folders of each user reside on the WHS.

    BTW, I held on to SBS for so many years due to Exchange.  But when I moved my family to Google Apps (sorry MS), WHS now had all the features I needed.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010 2:38 PM
  • Russell, how is the usable speed of the computers when set up this way?  Is there a noticeable lag?  Are there any applications or games that don't fare so well with having every file I/O have to travel to a server and back (like my VMWare example)?  Any caveats to be aware of?


    Wednesday, April 21, 2010 9:31 PM
  • For normal documents, even videos and photos, I don't notice any delay in opening documents.  I do have a gigabit network, though.  I don't run many games on my computer any more, but my kids do and only on certain games that save many files to the documents folder is their any delay - The Sims as an example.  In those case, the kids log in to the PCs under a "games" user name that doesn't have the folders redirected.  My wife loves it, since her "favorites" travel with her to each computer she is on. 

    Thursday, April 22, 2010 1:31 PM
  • That sounds great!  So is this the process where you right click on "My Documents" and set a new target?  And I think for the other folders there's a tool or registry setting to redirect it as well?

    That sounds like it would work out pretty well.  So she has all her documents, photos, and IE bookmarks (but not Firefox) no matter where she signs in.  But she might not have the application she needs unless it's installed on each PC, and application preferences wouldn't be carried over, is that correct?

    I'm trying to determine what is feasible here.  It would be great if you could store the entire user directory on the server, for an identical experience no matter where you log in, but I'm beginning to suspect that's not really doable with WHS.  Maybe just having the Documents folder on the server is enough.  And we use Firefox, so the bookmarks are in "Application Data", which I think is more problematic to push to the server.

    If we peeked inside a shared user folder on your server, would we see something like this?







    And those are the only items in that folder?  Or do you store other items there but those are the only folders that were redirected from another PC?  Sorry for all the questions -- like the OP I set up this server and now I'm not really sure to what extent we can get a unified login experience.  Folder Redirection, Roaming Profiles, Offline Files... these kinds of things are new to me so I've been reading up like crazy lately to see what applies and what would work, but it's a lot to take in at once.  :-)



    Thursday, April 22, 2010 9:37 PM