How To Setup Work Folders (Offline Files) On Windows Server 2012 R2

Want to Setup Offline Files in Windows Server 2012 R2? Well, Offline Files (used for offline folder synchronization) is now called Work Folders in Windows Server 2012 R2. To setup Work Folders in Windows Server 2012 R2:

  1. Start Server Manager
  2. Add a new Role
  3. Add the File and Storage Services and Web Server (IIS) roles
  4. Add the Work Folders role service
  5. Complete the installation (Next, Next, Finish)
  6. You will now need to setup the Work Folders website up with a certificate (I won’t go into depth on how to setup a certificate in IIS, but basically, open IIS, go to the Work Folders site, edit the bindings and select https and the associated certificate)
  7. In Server Manager, expand File and Storage Services -> Work Folders
  8. From the Work Folders pane, start the New Sync Share Wizard (You might also find this under Tasks)
  9. Click Next
  10. Select the server you want to setup your Work Folder Sync Share on and either select an existing file share or enter a local path
  11. Click Next and select an option for which to maintain structure. I recommend choosing the User alias@domain format because it’s more precise and less prone to conflicts. Selecting the User alias option is useful if you already have a folder structure setup in that format
  12. Click Next
  13. Name the Work Folder and click Next
  14. Add security groups of users that will require access to the Sync Share.

    Note that if Disable inherited permissions and grant users exclusive access to their files is ticked, Administrators won’t have access to users Synchronized files. Most companies would deselect this option

  15. Click Next
  16. Set any security options you require and complete the setup of the Work Folders Sync Share
  17. Next you will need to setup the clients for Work Folder synchronization. In Windows 8.1 or above, go to the Control Panel and select Work Folders
  18. Click Set up Work Folders and go through the wizard
  19. Once the setup of Work Folders is complete, there will be an option under My Computer called Work Folders for users to use

Notes about setting up Work Folders in Windows 2012 R2:

  • At the time of writing, Work Folders does not support multi-user access to a single Sync Share. This may be fixed in a future patch
  • At the time of writing, Work Folders requires Windows 8.1 or above. There may be a client for previous operating systems in future
  • I suspect that in future, Work Folder clients will be able to be set up with Group Policy
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