18 July, 2011

How to Configure Roaming Profiles

Roaming Profile

As the name suggest, its a kind of User Profile which Roams along with the User (No you cant put your Roaming Profile in your pocket and take it home.. :))

As opposed to a local profile which stays only on ONE workstation where the user logs in, Roaming profile on the other hand is essentially stored on a network location and when ever the user logs on to a different machine, the profile is copied from the network location onto his/her local machine

So, If I log on to Workstation A and make some changes (Wallpaper, Clock Display, Outlook Settings...), those changes will be saved on the network location. Next day if I log on to Workstation B, then those changes will be copied from the network location to Workstation B.

Remember, the changes are copied... That means that on the local machine as well I will have a copy of my Profile called as "Cache Copy of Roaming Profile". By default, the cache copy of roaming profile is not deleted when the user logs off, but we can set up group policy to enforce deletion of cache copy of roaming profiles to save disk space.

can anyone of think of a disadvantage of deleting the cache copy of roaming profile.. yes you got it right... every time you logs on to a machine (even the same machine on which you logged on yesterday), the whole profile is copied from the network location onto your local workstation thereby consuming bandwidth

So, saving on disk space on the cost of bandwidth... You Decide... 

Lets see how would you configure Roaming Profile

Lets first have a look on the local profile.. What all are contained in a local profile

In Windows Vista/ Windows 7 and in Windows 2008, you will find a lot many folders then what use to be in Windows XP and in Windows 2003. You will find the same old folders those use to be in Windows XP/2003 such as "Desktop" "My Documents" and many more... These are actually the junction points which points to the new folders that corresponds to the old folders

Like: Application Data (windows XP / 2003) -> AppData (Windows Vista / 7 / 2008)

These Junction Points are incorporated for backward compatibility with those applications which still uses the old folder names like "Application Data"

On the Server, Create a Shared Folder which will store the User Profiles. make sure you give the required permissions on the Shared Folder

In the User Properties, under the Profile Tab, specify the Network Location of the Shared folder that you have created (\\ServerName\ShareFolderName\%UserName%)

The "%UserName% is an environmental variable which automatically resolves to the name of the user for whom you are setting the Roaming Profiles

Once done, it we go back in the Shared Folder, We will see that a folder with the name of the User.V2 is created. It will not have any data for a fact that the profile is synchronized when the user logs off and when he logs on...

Also, note the v2 Extension... Windows Vista onwards, as stated before, there has been a change in the profile structure... The new profile is called the V2 profile

By default, only the user has permissions on the profile. it is not recommended to take the ownership of the user`s profile folder (For this post, i have taken the ownership of the user`s profile folder to show you the data) (In case you want to take the ownership, then make sure that the ownership should be given to the "Administrators" group and not to "Administrator". Also, make sure that the user name exists in the security ACL of the user profile folder once the ownership has been taken

See... There is no data in the User Profile.... and I am sure I don't have to again tell you why... :)

For testing purpose, i have created few folders and file on the user`s desktop on the client machine

Even after creating Files and Folders, there is nothing in the User`s Profile Folder

Now let me log off... from the client machine (Ofcourse)

Oops... We got the data....

And to prove my point, we do have the same data that we created on the User`s desktop