Work Folders is a Windows Server 2012 R2 feature that enables administrators to provide their users with synchronized access to their files on multiple workstations and devices while storing them on a network file server. The principle is roughly the same as Microsoft’s SkyDrive service, except that the files are stored on a private Windows server instead of a cloud server on the Internet. This enables administrators to maintain control over the files, backing them up, classifying them, and/or encrypting them as needed.
Note: Work Folders is a new feature in Windows Server 2012 R2 that has been added to the 70-410 objectives. Candidates for the revised exam should be familiar with the process of creating and configuring Work Folders on a server, though they need not dwell on the Windows 8.1 client side of the application.
To set up the Work Folders environment, you install the Work Folders role service in the File and Storage Services role on a server running Windows Server 2012 R2 and create a new type of share called a sync share. This installs the IIS Hostable Web Core feature, which makes it possible for the server to respond to incoming HTTP requests from Work Folders clients on the network.
On the client side, you configure Work Folders in the Windows 8.1 Control Panel, specifying the email address of the user and the location of the Work Folders on the local disk. The system also creates a system folder called Work Folders, which appears in File Explorer and in file management dialogs. When the user saves files to the Work Folders on the client system, they are automatically synchronized with the user’s folder on the Work Folders server.
Users can create as many Work Folders clients as they need on different computers or other devices. After saving files to their Work Folders on their office workstations, for example, users can go home and find those files already synchronized to their home computers.
In the same way, Work Folders can synchronize a user’s files to a portable device at the office and the user can work on them while offline during the commute home. Arriving home and connecting to the Internet, the device synchronizes the files back to the server, so that the user finds the latest versions on the office computer the next day.
Work Folders is not designed to be a collaborative tool; it is just a means synchronizing folders between multiple devices while enabling administrators to retain control over them. It is possible to specify that Work Folders files remain encrypted during synchronization and administrators can impose security policies that force the use of lock screens and mandatory data wipes for lost machines.
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