User Profile service application overview (SharePoint Server 2010)


Applies to: SharePoint Server 2010

The User Profile service application stores information about users in a central location. Social computing features use this information to facilitate productive interactions which enable users to collaborate efficiently. In order to provision My Sites, enable social computing features such as social tagging and newsfeeds, and create and distribute profiles across multiple sites and farms, you must enable the User Profile service application.

In this article:

  • Uses and benefits of the User Profile service application

  • Architecture

  • Related service applications

Uses and benefits of the User Profile service application

The User Profile service application in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 provides a central location where service administrators configure and manage the following features:

  • User profiles – contain detailed information about individuals in an organization. A user profile organizes and displays all of the properties related to each user together with social tags, documents and other items related to that user.

  • Organization profiles – contain detailed information about an organization such as teams, divisions, and so on.

  • Profile synchronization – provides a reliable way to synchronize groups and user profile information that is stored in the SharePoint Server 2010 profile store with information that is stored in directory services across the enterprise.

  • Audiences – enables organizations to target content to users based on their job or task, as defined by their membership in a SharePoint Server group or distribution list, by the organizational reporting structure, or by the public properties in their user profiles.

  • My Site Host – a dedicated site for hosting My Sites. A My Site Host is needed in order to deploy the social features of SharePoint Server.

  • My Site – a personal site that gives users in your organization a central location to manage and store documents, links, and colleagues.

  • Social tags and notes – enables users to add social tags to documents, to other SharePoint Server items, and to other items, such as external Web pages and blog posts. Users can also leave impromptu notes on profile pages of a My Site or any SharePoint Server page. Administrators can delete all tags for employees when they leave the company or remove a tag they do not want.

These features make it possible for users in an organization to share information and to stay informed about what is happening within the organization. Social tags, for example, enable users to tag and track the information they are most interested in. Users can be alerted when people they work with author new blog posts or when there is a change in organizational metadata.

Like other service applications in SharePoint Server 2010, farm administrators can delegate the management of all or part of the User Profile service application to one or more service application administrators. This enables the User Profile service application to be managed by the appropriate business group. One administrator can manage all areas of the User Profile service application or areas can be isolated and managed by different administrators who might not need to know about the existence of other areas of the service application. For example, one administrator can manage My Sites while a different administrator manages social tags and notes. The User Profile service application can be restricted and available only to certain departments or sets of sites based on business need, security restrictions, and budgets. For more information, see Assign or remove administrators to a service application (SharePoint Server 2010) and Logical architecture components (SharePoint Server 2010).


When you create a User Profile service application, SharePoint Server creates three databases for storing user profile information and associated data:

  • Profile database – used to store user profile information.

  • Synchronization database – used to store configuration and staging information for synchronizing profile data from external sources such as the Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS).

  • Social tagging database – used to store social tags and notes created by users. Each social tag and note is associated with a profile ID.

Each of these databases can be accessed by My Sites, Team Sites, and other SharePoint sites by using the User Profile service application. This provides a dynamic, personalized experience for the users in an organization. For more information about these databases, see Databases used by SharePoint 2010 Products.


Microsoft recommends that you install the June 2011 cumulative update refresh or later. Without this update, the User Profile service application databases cannot be restored. For more information about updates, see the Updates for SharePoint 2010 Products resource center (

The User Profile service application relies on other service applications to implement the full range of social computing features in SharePoint Server. These related service applications include the following:

See Also


Plan for social computing and collaboration (SharePoint Server 2010)
User Profile Service administration (SharePoint Server 2010)

Other Resources

Resource Center: Architecture Design for SharePoint Server 2010
Resource Center: What's New in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
Resource Center: Social Computing in SharePoint Server 2010