First published on CloudBlogs on May, 26 2011

Hello, my name is Pankaj Pande and I would like to discuss a method that an administrator can use to keep users from storing files in public folders and scattering files randomly throughout a virtual machine pool or Remote Desktop Session Host (RD Session Host) server farm, while using Remote Desktop Services and RemoteApp programs. (Note: an “RD Session Host server” was formerly called a “terminal server” in Windows Server 2008.)

Currently, when a user creates an RDP session or a RemoteApp program, they can see, and in some cases transverse, drives C and D of the RD Session Host server. They can also save anything on the desktop, which might look like their personal desktop, but it's actually the desktop of the RD Session Host server.

Restrictions will disable Libraries and Favorites and will hide or restrict users or a group of users from accessing and viewing any drives on the RD Session Host server. Users will be provided with an error message even if they use the UNC path to access the drives.

The primary reason to remove Favorites and Libraries and access to drives is because they contain mostly accessed locations on a system, so in the case of the RD Session Host server, this includes the desktop, downloads, recent places, etc. It is recommended that a user not save any documents to these locations.

Removing Favorites and Libraries

You must perform these modifications on the RD Session Host server. You can use the Registry to make these changes.

Using the Registry (applies to all users including the administrators)

Note: Back up the key first and take ownership of the ShellFolder before changing the value of Attributes.

1. For Favorites , the key is:

Changing a0900100 to a9400100 will hide Favorites from the navigation pane.

2. For Libraries , the key is:

Changing b080010d to b090010d will hide Libraries from the navigation pane.

Hiding/Preventing Access to Drives

You can use Group Policy settings to hide and restrict access to drives on the RD Session Host server. By enabling these settings you can ensure that users do not inadvertently access data stored on other drives, or delete or damage programs or other critical system files on drive C.

The following settings are located in the Group Policy Management Console under User ConfigurationPoliciesAdministrative TemplatesWindows ComponentsWindows Explorer :

  • Hide these specified drives in My Computer. You can remove the icons for specified drives from a user’s My Computer folder by enabling this setting and using the drop-down list to select the drives you would like to hide. However, this setting does not restrict access to these drives.
  • Prevent access to drives from My Computer. Enable this setting to prevent users from accessing the chosen combination of drives. Use this setting to lock down the RD Session Host server for users accessing it for their primary desktop.

Applies to :

  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2003

Other Group Policy Settings for Additional Security

You can also enable the following Group Policy settings at User ConfigurationAdministrative TemplatesWindows ComponentsWindows Explorer :

  • Hides the Manage item on the Windows Explorer context menu — Enabled
  • Remove Hardware tab — Enabled
  • Remove “Map Network Drive” and “Disconnect Network Drive” — Enabled
  • Remove Search button from Windows Explorer — Enabled
  • Disable Windows Explorer's default context menu — Enabled
  • Remove Run menu from Start Menu — Enabled

Applies to :

  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows XP

Occasional Visitor

Is there a similar guide for Windows Server 2012 R2, data center edition?  I did search but don't find anything.  Registry would be preferred, but GPO is fine to remove Favorites and the other local folders standard in File Explorer and "save as" dialogues. 

When I attempt the values above, I get "Cannot edit Atributes: Error writing the value's new contents". 

Thanks in advance.

Occasional Visitor

Related to this exact post. Is there a way to lockdown access, with the Group Policy setting, to the local server drives, but still allow the RDS users to copy/delete files that they create in the RDS profile? No folder redirection, roaming profiles, or mapped network drives. End users have mapped local drives that do have folder redirection to a DFS target. The app they are running happens to have trouble saving to mapped drives/dfs shares even though a copy/paste of an RDS desktop file is quick and successful. Thanks.