Recommendations for Roaming User Profiles

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

The following guidelines and recommendations for customizing roaming profile settings for your deployment include considerations for users roaming between different versions of the Windows operating systems.

For information about deploying Roaming User Profiles on newer versions of Windows, see Deploy Folder Redirection, Offline Files, and Roaming User Profiles.

Considerations for users roaming between different versions of the Windows operating systems

The following guidelines apply to roaming users who roam between computers running any of the following operating systems: Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, and Windows XP:

  • If you can avoid roaming between versions of the operating system, it is preferable that you do so. There is nothing inherent in roaming that causes problems, but the data that the applications put in the profile might cause unintended side effects on other versions of the operating system.

  • Install the same application versions on all client computers.

  • Make sure that the applications are installed using the same path and drive on all client computers.

  • Make sure that the different versions of the operating system are installed on the same %systemdrive% and in the same %windir% location on all clients.

  • If users roam between Microsoft® Windows® NT 4.0–based clients and Windows XP–, Windows 2000–, or Windows Server 2003–based clients, consider setting the profile path during the installation of Windows XP, Windows 2000, or Windows Server 2003. Differences in the default profile path (%windir%\Profiles versus %systemdrive%\Documents and Settings) may cause problems for users that roam between Windows NT 4.0–based clients and Windows XP–, Windows 2000–, or Windows Server 2003–based clients. To minimize the chance of problems, make sure the path to the profile is the same on all clients.

Redirect My Documents out of user’s roaming profile

To reduce logon delay, use Folder Redirection to relocate large folders, such as My Documents, to shared folders on the network. Redirected folders are not copied as part of the Roaming User Profile during logon or logoff.

Do not use Encrypting File System with roaming user profiles

Encrypting File System (EFS) is not compatible with files in roaming user profiles. If you use EFS to encrypt profile folders or files, the user’s profile does not roam.

Do not place roaming user profiles on a server volume that uses NTFS compression

It is recommended that you do not place user home folders and roaming profiles on a volume that uses NTFS compression. The frequent file creation and deletion can cause a compressed volume to become fragmented.

Combine Roaming User Profiles with Folder Redirection

When a user gets a roaming user profile, the data and settings that are stored in the user’s local profile directories become mobile. The profile data is stored on a server and copied to a workstation when the user logs on. Storing this data on servers simplifies data backup and security. However, because large folders, such as My Documents, are copied, there can be logon delays. You can avoid these delays by using Folder Redirection in combination with Roaming User Profiles.

When a user profile folder is redirected to a shared folder on the network, the folder is no longer part of the user profile. While other profile data is copied to the local workstation when the user logs on, the redirected folder remains on the server and is accessed over the network.

Do not set disk quotas too low for users with roaming profiles

For users who have roaming user profiles, set the disk quota limits high enough to allow the system to create a temporary duplicate copy of the user’s profile. During the synchronization process, a temporary profile is created in the user’s context. This process debits the user’s quota. If a user’s disk quotas are set too low, roaming profile synchronization might fail.

If possible, use profile quotas to manage disk space and apply disk quotas only if additional control is required.

Do not use Offline Folders on roaming user profile shared folders

To prevent synchronization problems, make sure that you turn off Offline Folders for shared folders where roaming user profiles are stored. If you do not turn off Offline Folders for a user’s profile, you might experience synchronization problems because both Offline Folders and Roaming User Profiles try to synchronize the files in a user’s profile. This synchronization conflict does not affect using Offline Folders with redirected files, such as My Documents.