In my last post of my Work Folder series, I explained how to setup SSL. Today, I’ll have a look at the client setup.

Now that we have the Windows Server 2012 R2 file server up and running with Work Folders configured, we’re ready to start letting users connect. On Windows 8.1 client systems, Work Folders can be configured manually by the user or in an automated fashion with Group Policy if the client system is domain joined.

Configuring the client manually ^

End users with personally-owned devices and variants of Windows 8.1 that don’t support being domain joined will have to be manually configured for Work Folders. The good news is that if you took the time to set up your Work Folders server with a workfolders.domain DNS entry like we covered in Part 2, the setup for the end user is very easy.

First, go to the Control Panel. The quickest way is to right-click on the Start Button and choose Control Panel.

Control Panel in WIN X menu

Control Panel in WIN X menu

The default setting for the Control Panel is to have the View set to Category. If the end user has changed it to Large Icons or Small Icons, Work Folders will be available to double-click. Since most end users are probably going to leave the setting in Category view, they’ll need to click on System and Security.

System and Security

System and Security

Once they’re in the System and Security area, they can click on Manage Work Folders.

Manage Work Folders

Manage Work Folders

Next, click on Set up Work Folders.

Set up Work Folders

Set up Work Folders

The end user will need to enter a work email address and then their AD credentials.

AD credentials

AD credentials

If you have multiple Work Folders servers or (for whatever reason) can’t set up workfolders.domain DNS entry, the end user can click on Enter a Work Folders URL instead and enter the URL that you provide them to connect.

Enter a Work Folders URL

Enter a Work Folders URL

The user can specify a location for their files to be stored; the default is the Work Folders folder in their profile.

Work Folders location

Work Folders location

Last, the user will need to approve the security policies that you set on the server and click Close on the confirmation screen.

Security policiesWork Folders has started syncing with this PC

Security policies / Confirmation screen

The user should now have a new folder available in Computer called Work Folders where files will be synced back to the Work Folders server and to all of their configured devices.

Work Folders in Windows Explorer

Work Folders in Windows Explorer

Configuring the client automatically ^

Domain joined clients can be configured automatically using Group Policy. In the Group Policy Management Console, create a new Group Policy Object or edit an existing GPO that is assigned to users. Go to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Work Folders > Specify Work Folders settings.

Set the policy to Enabled and enter the URL of your Work Folders server. You can also check Force automatic setup to have Work Folders automatically configured for users

Force automatic setup

Force automatic setup

If you choose the Force automatic setup option, end users accessing the Work Folders configuration in the Control Panel won’t be able to use the Stop using Work Folders option. Attempting to will result in the error “You can’t stop using Work Folders on this PC. This setting is managed by your system administrator.”

You can’t stop using Work Folders on this PC

You can’t stop using Work Folders on this PC

There is one slight annoyance you’ll need to be aware of. If you’ve set Work Folders to require encryption or to automatically lock screen and require a password, the end user will need to access the Work Folders configuration in the Control Panel to apply the security configuration. So, the setup isn’t completely automated.

Manage Work Folders in Control Panel

Manage Work Folders in Control Panel

Green vs. black text file names ^

One of the things you may notice when using Work Folders is that files may show up with green text rather than the normal black text.

Green file names in Work FoldersBlack file names in Work Folders

Green vs. black text file names in Work Folders

If your Work Folders files show up with green text filenames, the server-side Work Folders configuration has been set up to require encryption. Because the files have been encrypted using Encrypting File System (EFS), they are shown with green text to differentiate them from unencrypted files.

Conclusion ^

Work Folders is definitely a 1.0 technology. Many of the limitations like device/OS support, limited configuration options, and the lack of group sharing options show that. However, just because something has a 1.0 version number doesn’t mean it should get any less consideration if you’re looking for a solution to sync user files to devices. There are plans to support older versions of Windows along with additional devices like the iPad. And, if you’re looking for a simple way to sync files between multiple Windows 8.1 devices, Work Folders is included with Windows Server 2012 R2 and worth a look when you’re ready to upgrade your file server to the latest Windows server OS.

9 Comments
  1. Mehrnaz 6 years ago

    I set up work folders in my organization and that was fine until last week. now I have some issue. One of my clients' works fine but mine and the others' can't access to work folders. I have admin access on the work folder server but I can't using work folders. the server error is: The windows sync service failed to update the current state of an item. Item \??\E:\Resources\"User Name"; Error code (0x80070005) Access is Denied. 
    Also in client I get this error: Access is denied.
    Can you help me?

    • Author

      Have you checked that your permissions haven't changed? What about the Event Logs on the server?

      • Mehrnaz (Rank: )
        6 years ago

        I am local admin in both client and server. I wonder that how some of users can access to Work Folders but me and some users can't! In server logs I found this error for my account:

        The windows sync service failed to update the current state of an item. Item \??\E:\Resources\”User Name”; Error code (0x80070005) Access is Denied

        I didn't change anything.

        • Author

          Just because you're an Administrator on the box doesn't mean you can't be denied access. I see in a later comment you resolved the issue, but if anyone else runs into this... 1) Check the Event Logs. There may be something else going on. 2) Re-check permissions and the setup for the user having problems. 3) Disconnect the client system and set up Work Folders again. It's possible something got corrupted on the client and a clean setup may fix it.

      • Mehrnaz (Rank: )
        6 years ago

        Thanks for your help. I resolved the problem using Access Check tool. My colleague modified permissions of the sync folder. Using Access Check tool I figured out the modifications applied by my colleague.

  2. Khondkar Shahriar 6 years ago

    I tried this but unsuccessful. It gives me error saying SSL certificate containts incorrect hostname. It can not be used to establish SSL connection. FYI, i have used self signed certificate and bind it to SSL. Please assist. Thanks

  3. Justin 5 years ago

    Same issue as Khondkar. I'm dizzy from troubleshooting numerous SSL errors, the most recent errors on the client being: "The connection with the server was terminated abnormally (0x80072efe)" and "the server's SSL certificate was issued by a certificate authority that isn't trusted by this PC. Email your organization's tech support. (0x80c80337)". Not sure which of those errors was a step closer towards functionality.   From what I can tell the SSL portion of configuration is the most convoluted and there isn't a whole lot of information for troubleshooting in the majority of working folder guides.

  4. Martin 5 years ago

    Hi

    I do have a Problem with syncing Work Folders on one Device. It's a Windows 10 (1607) Pro Machine, and while configuring Work Folders, after enter my Email Address, i get the following Error:

    There was a problem using your email address to find your settings.

    The requested header was not found

    (‪0x80072f76)

    In the past i was able to sync on this device with no problems. I belive the problem exists after Password change.

    On another Windows 10 (1607) Machine, i can sync Work Folders without Problems.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks

    Martin

  5. Geo 3 years ago

    Sync Share discovery failed. Server URL: http://workfolders.ohs.local; Partnership type: User Data; Error: (0x80c80037) You're not set up on the server. Email your organization's tech support and ask them if they can give you access to Work Folders.

    i cannot get past this, any help would be appreciated please

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