I came across a strange recently where some of our staff would login to a shared Windows 7 PC with their roaming profile and redirected folders and report having “nothing, no icons, no files, just a blank black background”. I figured the issue must have been network related and went to look at the issue.
The staff member was receiving the following error with her issue: “\\SERVER\StaffHome$\Desktop refers to a location that is unreachable. It could be on a hard drive on this computer, or on a network. Check to make sure that the disk is properly inserted, or that you are connected to the internet or your network, and then try again. If it still cannot be located, the information might have been moved to a different location.”
The error seemed to confirm my thoughts that this was a network error, however the PC had a properly allocated IP address and I could ping the file server. I tried to open the other redirected folders (“My Pictures”, “My Documents” etc) however the error still came up. I opened up the file server UNC path \\SERVER and was able to view the shares on the server and open every single one exept the “StaffHome$” share where the redirected folders were. To further add confusion I could browse to the folder using the IP address instead of the FQDN of the server (“\\192.168.1.1\StaffHome$”). I couldn’t find anything in the event log to help me work out what this strange behavior was about.
I tried a few other things such as logging off, restarting, logging in as a few test staff member users but to no avail. To the InterWebs!
I found the solution to this issue thanks to the good effort of people who posted at these links:
Basically a user had logged in and redirected their folders. Offline files were enabled on the machine so the redirected folders would sync between the file server and the machine. For some reason the CSC Database that locks the offline file cache hadn’t released it’s lock on the staff members folders within \\SERVER\StaffHome$ and wouldn’t allow any other user to access the folders.
The link above at http://www.networknet.nl provides a workaround solution to the issue, however it’s time consuming and it doesn’t solve the root cause of the issue (that Microsoft probably needs to clean up, along with the misleading error message). The workaround I took was to turn of offline files for all shared machines through group policy and only have the feature enable for staff laptops where it’s needed.