Microsoft FSLogix Profile Containers and Folder Redirection: Should I? It depends.
Before FSLogix Profile Containers use of any other roaming profile solution, it has also been recommended to use them in combination with Folder Redirection to help reduce the profile load time. With Profile Containers, profile load time is nearly eliminated by live mounting the Profile Container. So is Folder Redirection still necessary?
With Folder Redirection, user documents are accessed at the file-level over the network from the user's redirected documents folder. Without proper considerations, Folder Redirection can harm user experience and performance of the backend storage. Folder Redirection has been widely used for a vast majority of deployments and is the de-facto standard.
By default with Profile Container, user documents are accessed at the bit-level over the network from inside the user’s Profile Container. Bit-level file access can improve user experience and performance of backend storage.
So why use Folder Redirection with Profile Containers? There is a balance between performance and user/admin functionality. Although there can be improved performance without Folder Redirection, it doesn’t come without any risks.
By leaving user documents inside profile containers, user documents can only be accessed from inside their profile container, making user documents not portable between a physical and virtual environment.
Users and administrators lose the ability to restore documents from previous versions. One could argue that an admin could restore a prior version of the Profile Container and extract the document to restore. Additionally, what if there were multiple revisions of the document while the Profile Container was attached? Only the latest version could be restored.
If your organization is like mine and each help desk call where the user references “Citrix” results in a profile reset, this action could result in data loss of user documents. Either you’d have to extract user documents before the profile reset or from backup, either way, somebody isn’t going to be happy.
Finally, don’t paint yourself into a corner–help make your next migration easier. If there are user documents inside Profile Containers, it may not be a fun day having to extract user documents as part of that future migration.
There are exceptions to everything, if your organization uses a cloud storage technology like Microsoft OneDrive, don’t use Folder Redirection and let users save their documents to OneDrive. Optionally leverage OneDrive Folder Protection to protect the Documents, Pictures, and Desktop folders. Benefiting from the best of both worlds, user documents inside the Profile Container and improved performance, removing the risk of losing user documents with a profile reset and gain the ability for a user to do a self-service file restore from OneDrive online. An additional benefit of using Windows 10 1709 or Windows Server 2019 OneDrive leverages Files On-Demand and reduce the storage footprint required in your Profile Container.
In conclusion, continue to use Folder Redirection for user documents with Profile Containers unless also using cloud storage for user documents.