Internet Explorer 10/11 webcache file issue


Internet Explorer 10/11 Webcache issue

This blog will show you the issue with Internet Explorer 10 or 11 and the inability to save cookies and history and so on. Further on I will show you the tests done by me and others to test the different scenarios. @Evengelen and @Hansminnee both did test and showed that in some Circumstances it works and in some it doesn’t. First let’s take a look at the issue, we use Nu.nl for the test.

Background

Before IE10 cookies were saved in the cookies folder, so we easily could pick them up and save them on a central location. With Roaming profiles (damn I hate to use that word) the were copied from one computer to a central location to be used at another computer.

Since IE10 and later Microsoft introduced the WebCacheV01.dat file, this file is located at %LocalAppdata%MicrosoftWindowsWebCache. The webcache folder is a hidden folder.
From another blog you can see what is captured in the file; Webcache explained.

The issue

It’s pretty interesting but the main issue with this file is that you can’t save it. The file is always in use and can’t be copied back to a central location at all.
The file is stored in LocalAppData and only roaming is copied back and forth. So only with a local profile or when you log on to the same computer with no profile cleaning done would get you your history and cookies back.

I always had the idea that Microsoft had a hard time understanding the modern world and every time I run into something like this I’m more convinced of this. If you create a browser and you make it impossible to save history and cookies to roam you are living in the 90s. Microsoft WE ROAM, we have multiple devices and want our settings everywhere on every device, you don’t store these settings in localappdata.

The fix – uhh no fix 🙂

Microsoft has released a fix. the reference to the fix is at the end of the article. So we did some tests to find out whether the fix is working so that we can tell our customers IE10 or 11 is fine to work with. End result was that the fix didn’t work for 2008R2 .. read on for more information

Test 1

I created a test environment to test this issue.
Windows 7 desktop and Windows 2008R2 DC/File server.

I fixed my lab and made sure the user was having a roaming profile, freedom to save whatever you gather.. looks like a good idea until 6 months later you experience the downfall, the slowness.

After logging in and opening Nu.nl, which is my reference site, I had the cookie question. Logging of and logging back on proved that the cookie message had been saved, so the webcache file was preserved.

I checked the roaming profile folder and noticed that the webcache file wasn’t there, only to realize that I was a dumbass for the webcache file is not stored in the roaming appdata folder but in localappdata, which isn’t copied to the central profile store.
So we’re back at square one as you English call it I think, only with a persistent desktop and no cleaning of profiles after logging off you will be able to save your webcache file. 
I don’t know what they fixed at Microsoft but not this, it’s a nice fix that does absolutely nothing.
This was at Windows 7 which works the same as on Windows 2008R2.

Test by @Evengelen

@Evengelen Did a test for himself with Windows 2012R2 and Internet Explorer 10 and noticed that the Webcache wasn’t used (anymore??). I did a retest myself with the same configuration and also noticed that cookies are saved like they used to be.

He and I will do a retest with Windows 2008R2 soon to do a double, triple check.

Test by @RobBeekmans

After the test from Erik I did a retest myself, I created a Windows 2012R2 environment and did the same test again. I setup a roaming profile and went to Nu.nl, the cookie message appeared.
I logged off and made sure the profile wasn’t left behind.
I logged on again and open Nu.nl again and the cookie message didn’t show up.
So as the previous test I also found that with Windows 2012R2 the issue seems to be gone, the cookies are saved as previous.
Via twitter I talked to Hans Minnee about the test and he confirmed that he also experienced the issue at Windows 2008R2. 

A Retest on Windows 2008R2

I’m always doubting myself so I decided to do a retest on Windows 2008R2.
I setup a 2008R2 server, actually I reassigned it for this matter (it was a connection broker).
I’ve updated it and installed Internet Explorer 10 on it with the hotfix (it shows in the about that the hotfix is installed.
The user has a profile folder and can logon to the server.

When I log on the first time I see the profile being created, after logging on I open Internet Explorer 10.
I use a test site, www.nu.nl, it a local news site. I get the question about the cookie. same thing happened with Windows 2012 R2 and IE11.
After logging off and on again I still get the same cookie error.
I checked whether my profile was written correctly and it was, it put a file on the desktop and it came back.
After this test I’m sure that it’s only fixed for Windows 2012R2, useless for my customers.

Conclusion

It’s pretty clear that Microsoft did not fix the Webcache issue on Windows 2008 R2, which is still the most used system for RDS/SBC environment. on Windows 2012 R2 it works but for most our customers and many organizations in the world that is not of any use.
We’re all stuck at IE9 or face issue going forward.

References

Below are some of the references, there is none for the webcache explanation.. I couldn’t find any.

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