With the introduction of Work Folders on Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft has delivered a secure way of providing an encrypted storage area to users across multiple devices, with Windows 8.1 clients being the first to receive the capability. It’s available from within Control Panel, and depending on how it has it has been deployed in your organisation you get two choices of how to enable it.

The first step is the same for either approach – you need to set up Work Folders. There’s only one choice, so it’s hard to go wrong!

The first option that can be configured is if you want to be able to connect via your email address. If you enter your email address and it works, you can ignore the next screenshot.


If your email address didn’t work, then your administrator should have provided a URL that you can connect to, and as you can see from the above example URL, it needs to be published securely on Port 443.

Regardless of which method succeeds for you, you will see this progress bar, which once completed you can close, which leads you into the next part of the client side configuration.

The Work Folders location defaults to underneath the user profile, which can be changed.


You can’t continue until you accept the policies, which are effectively enforcing MDM type capabilities on your device. In my case, the device was domain joined, so would be subject to many of these types of rules, but these also apply to non-domain joined devices, as well as to devices that cannot join a domain, such as Windows RT devices.

Once we accept, we can now continue by choosing Set up Work Folders.



We get notification that synchronisation is occurring, and this may take a while if we have already synchronised folders from another device.

Within the Control Panel application we can see the amount of space that is available, and whether or not there are issues connecting to the service. Remember that these resources can be published through your firewall, so synchronisation can still take place while you are on the internet with Direct Access or VPN capabilities.

You can see that the files in Work Folders are green to help you identify them.

In the next post I’ll cover how Work Folders compares to some other technologies that are used inside and outside of the corporate network for storage.