Roaming User Profile Settings

To create a roaming user profile there are three basic tasks:

  1. Log on to a server

  2. Create a network share to store the profile

  3. Designate the user as a roaming user.

For more information about how to create a roaming user or mandatory profile, see Windows 2000 Server Help.

In Figure 21.3, you can see a user profile for a user called Alice. The user's data and individual computer settings are stored on the network. When roaming users log on to the network, their desktop settings, stored data, and all his or her user applications are copied to the computers that he or she is using. This provides the user with the ability to log on and have access to data from any computer within the organization's network. You can specify whether all or a portion of a user's profile is available. When a roaming profile is used, this might lengthen the time that it takes a user to log on and log off depending on the size of the user profile, because profiles download from the server when a user logs on and upload to the server when they log off.

In an environment where users are permitted to use more than one computer and where roaming user profiles are in use, it is recommended that temporary and local computer settings not roam with users. Temporary and local computer settings that roam with users can cause unnecessary overhead, including the time to download the files that need to be transferred when users log on to a system, and the differences between computers can disrupt the roaming function.

In Figure 21.3, hidden files are displayed to show all areas of the profile and what each area contains; items in bold are visible to a user who is logged on.


Figure 21.3 Default User Profile

When looking at a user profile, by default the only folders displayed in Windows Explorer are My Documents, My Pictures, Favorites, Start menu, and Desktop folders. The Templates, Recent, Send To, NetHood, PrintHood, and Application Data folders are hidden folders and therefore do not appear in Windows Explorer. You can show hidden files and folders in order to view the hidden folders.

The following user profile local settings folders do not roam by default: Temp, Classes, Application Data, History, and Temporary Internet Files. The Temp directory is visible to the user and is available for backwards compatibility.

If the server is not available, the local cached copy of the roaming user profile is used. If the user has not logged on to the computer before, a new local user profile is created. In either case, if the centrally stored user profile is not available when the user logs on, it is not updated when the user logs off. If the user profile is not downloaded because of server problems, it is not uploaded when the user logs off.