Jul 272010
 

In this guide I will explain how to redirect the the My Documents folder to the User share on a Windows Home Server. Also, I will set up Offline File Syncing so the computer can be disconnected from the network and still maintain access to the files. Upon reconnecting to the network the changes will by automatically synchronized.

The individual User folders are automatically created when adding a user to the Windows Home Server and it is set so only the specific user has read/write access. This is a great way to manage your files if you are working on multiple computers and/or are using a laptop that is occasionally removed from the local network and you still need access to all of your files.

Part I: Redirect My Documents Folder

In Windows XP or Vista, you can can right click on the “My Documents” or “Documents” folder in Windows Explorer and click on Properties.

In Windows 7 you need to navigate to the actual My Documents folder which is located by default in C:\Users\UserName\My Documents. Right click on that folder and click on Properties.

Navigate to the Location tab where you will see the current My Documents path.

In this section change the path to the Windows Home Server share that you will be using as the new My Documents folder. In my case I changed the path to \\whs\Users\ben.

You will be asked if you want to move over the contents My Documents to the new path (do this if the files do not already exist in the destination). In my case, I copied over the files before I started this process. Make sure your files are in the new location and then you can delete your old My Documents folder.

Part II: Configure Offline File

Navigate to the new My Documents folder in the WHS share, right click on it, and select Properties. Go to the Offline Files tab and check off ‘Always available offline.’ Press sync now to begin the sync which should take a few minutes.

You can test to make sure everything is working by creating a test file and saving it to your My Documents folder, disconnecting your network connection, open the test file, make a modification, save it, reconnect network connection and navigate to the share (ex. \\whs\users\ben) and open the test file from that location. If it shows the modification that you made when you were offline you are all set.

Note: I found that Battlefield Bad Company 2 and possibly other games or applications that access game files in the My Documents folder do not run properly when it is redirected to a network share (ex. extreme lag in BFBC2).

Jun 072010
 

While Google Chrome now has a built in synchronization feature which includes bookmarks, preferences, and themes, this does not do a full profile sync.

If you are looking to sync your entire Chrome profile which includes the above settings in addition to; extensions, history, cookies, and cache, you can use Dropbox to keep multiple computers in sync with a single profile.

If you don’t already have a Dropbox account, you can sign up here and get 2Gb of storage for free (capable of getting up to 8Gb for free).

Once Dropbox is installed and configured with your account you can go about the process below to set up syncing your Chrome profile.

Part I: Move Chrome profile into Dropbox

  1. This section is only completed for the initial setup and is to be done on the computer with the “master” profile that you want to retain.
  2. Create a folder in your Dropbox folder named “Roaming Profiles” with a subfolder “Google Chrome”. The future path for your Chrome profile should look similar to this (if you installed Dropbox to the default location):
    ” C:\Users\Ben\Documents\My Dropbox\Roaming Profiles\Google Chrome”
  3. Close any instances of Google Chrome.
  4. Open Windows Explorer and make sure “show hidden files” is enabled.
  5. In Windows 7 – navigate to “C:\Users\Ben\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data”
  6. Copy the “Default” folder into the new Dropbox folder we created in step 1.
  7. Rename the original “Default” folder to “Default_old” (this will be deleted at then end when we confirm everything works)

Part II: Create a link between the Dropbox and Chrome profiles

  1. If there is a folder named “Default” in “C:\Users\Ben\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data”, delete it.
  2. Now we need to create a symlink between the Dropbox folder and the location that Chrome will look for its profile.
    Open the command prompt as administrator by right clicking on the cmd application and pressing “run as administrator”
  3. You will enter: mklink /D “(Dropbox location)” “Chrome default location)”
    On my computer it looked like:

    C:\Windows\system32>mklink /D “C:\Users\Ben\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default” “C:\Users\Ben\Documents\My Dropbox\Roaming Profiles\Google Chrome\Default”

    If it worked you should see a message that looks like this:

    symbolic link created for C:\Users\Ben\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default <<===>> C:\Users\Ben\Documents\My Dropbox\Roaming Profiles\Google Chrome\Default

    C:\Windows\system32>mklink /D “C:\Users\Ben\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default” “C:\Users\Ben\Documents\My Dropbox\Roaming Profiles\Google Chrome\Default”symbolic link created for C:\Users\Ben\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default <<===>> C:\Users\Ben\Documents\My Dropbox\Roaming Profiles\Google Chrome\Default

  4. Launch Chrome and confirm it opens with your previous settings. If you open up the Dropbox path and then open an instance of Chrome, you will see that some files are in use and have not been synced. Once you close the browser they will sync in a matter of seconds (green checkbox means it has been synced).
  5. Delete the folder we renamed to “Default_old” in Part 1, step 7 (if it exists).
  6. Install Dropbox on any other computers that you want to set up Chrome profile syncing and repeat the steps in Part II.

Edit: It looks like the development builds of Chrome now have code to support extensions syncing, thereby eliminating one of the good reasons to use method to keep your instances of Chrome in sync. I imagine you can expect to see this feature fully implemented shortly. Read more.