Take your office to home with Work Folders

Windows Server 2012 R2 release has introduced the concept of Work Folders which is similar to the functionality of Dropbox or SkyDrive to corporate servers. Work folders is a file replication service which enables you to access your corporate files even when you are roaming or at home from your own device.

This feature is only supported in Windows 8.1/8.1 RT clienst yet but Microsoft is planning to introduce it to Windows 7, iPad and Android (may be) pretty much soon. The operation is pretty much simple. Work folders keep copies of files both in server and client, syncs the files when connected to the server. But keep in mind this feature doesn’t support web access or sharing like Dropbox which I think is clear, because you don’t wanna see your sensitive data in wrong hands.

This feature include the following functionality.

  • Data encryption capability and remote data wipe with Windows Intune
  • Security policies for PCs and devices (i.e encrypt lock folders and use a lock screen password)
  • High availability is possible with Failover clustering
  • Files can be accessed offline and will be synced with the central file server when the device is connected to the corporate network or Internet depending on the scenario

OK. What about the limitations and scope considerations on this one?

  • Work folders must reside in local storage of file servers.
  • Cannot sync arbitrary file shares. Users sync to their own folder on the file serve.r (e.g. you can’t sync sales file share to your device)
  • Doesn’t provide sharing & collaboration capabilities. Microsoft recommends using SkyDrive Pro if you need document collaboration features.

If you plan to deploy work folders in your environment, here is the comprehensive TechNet article on how to do it. You can refer the storage team blog article here if you need more insight.

See below video from BJTechNews on how to create work folders in Windows Server 2012 R2.