Simplify Windows WAN Optimization With BranchCache - Page 2

 By Jabez Gan
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Setting Up BranchCache

Without getting too detailed, here's a quick overview of how to set up BranchCache:

BranchCache Requirements

For BranchCache to work, we need the following: two office locations or sites and at least 1 Windows Server 2008 R2 at each site.

Setting up the Main Site (HQ)

The server at the main site could have a file server or an application server installed, either of which can have the files or data to be shared to remote users. Application servers include Web (IIS), Windows Server Update Services, or System Center Configuration Manager branch distribution site system servers.

The steps to setup the server at the main site are fairly simple:

1. BranchCache for File Server:

  1. Install File Services role and BranchCache for Network Files role services.
  2. Enable Hash Publication
    • Non-domain file server: Use Group Policy to set: Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Network, Lanman Server, Hash Publication for BranchCache. See Figure 1. Options include:
      • Allow hash publication for all shared folders
      • Allow hash publication only for shared folders on which BranchCache is enabled
      • Disallow hash publication for all shared folders
  3. Domain file server: Have all file servers placed in the same Organization Unit (OU), and configure a Group Policy object for the OU. The settings are the same as above.
  4. Enable BranchCache on the file share individually. See Figure 2.

Figure 1: Enabling BranchCache in Group Policy.

Figure 2: Enabling BranchCache for share folder.

2. BranchCache for application server:

  1. Install and enable BranchCache from Server Manager. Note that BranchCache here is not the same as BranchCache for Network Files under BranchCache for File Server. See Figure 3.
  2. Start the BranchCache service.
  3. As long as the files are stored in the local server, and opened by compatible computers, (Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 Enterprise/Ultimate) with BranchCache enabled, caching will be used.

On both file server and application server:

  1. Install Certificate Authority and IIS.
  2. Configure server certificate auto-enrollment, and push the certificate to all file server/application servers.

Figure 3: Installing BranchCache.

3. Setting up the branch office

As explained earlier, we have Hosted Cache and Distributed Cache mode. Though we'll provide a brief list of setup steps here, you should definitely follow the links in the Additional Resources list, below, for more detailed instructions.

Hosted Cache

  1. Use Group Policy to configure the setting of: Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Network, BranchCache, Turn On BranchCache and Set BranchCache Hosted Cache mode. See Figure 4.
  2. Obtain and link the hosted cache server certificate to BranchCache.

Distributed Cache

  1. Use Group Policy to configure the setting of: Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Network, BranchCache, Turn On BranchCache and Set BranchCache Distributed Cache mode.

Figure 4: BranchCache settings in Group Policy.


BranchCache will help organizations with multi-site setups, whether they have just a few or millions of files to be shared across sites. By lowering the WAN usage, users will be able to use the Internet connectivity without slowdowns, which will also translate to high user work productivity.

Have you deployed BranchCache? How has it worked out for you? Drop me a comment on the good or the ugly of BranchCache.

Additional Resources

This article was originally published on Jul 31, 2010
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