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Profiles stored on server

Posted on 2004-11-02
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
How can I have the user profile along with Outlook stored on my Windows 2003 server?

This is to replace C:\<systemroot>\local settings\...
Where the user profile is normally stored on the client computer. Instead I want all this along with outlook on the server.


Detailed guides or how to do it would be handy. Also info about setting up the clients in this way aswell. Operating systems range from XP PRO, XP HOME, 2000 PRO, 98, 95, and NT.
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Question by:georgecooldude
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    Expert Comment

    by:luv2smile
    You will need to setup roaming profiles:

    Here is a good article

    http://techrepublic.com.com/5100-6268-1031655-1.html
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    Author Comment

    by:georgecooldude
    I am getting

    "You do not have permission to view/change your profile at  \\<server>\share\username"

    "... cannot find your local profile"

    Coud you guide me through the process
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    Accepted Solution

    by:

    1. Create a share on the Server called Profiles (for the sake of arguement). Add Everyone with Read / Write Permission to the share.

    2. The same permissions for the File System (Everyone, Full Control).

    3. Create a new Group Policy at the Root of the Domain Containing the following policies:

    Computer Configuration \ Administrative Templates \ System \ User Profiles

    Add the Administrators security group to roaming user profiles: Enabled

     ---- The User of the Profile Must be owner of the folder itself, so you can't really change the permissions on the folders manually. This restores administrative access allowing you to perform backups etc.

    User Configuration \ Administrative Templates \ System \ User Profiles

    Exclude Directories in Roaming Profiles: Enabled

     ---- If I remember correctly setting this to enabled will stop Temporary Internet Files (and other Temporary files) from loading onto the Roaming Profile. Keeping the profile small with this reduces the time to login.

    4. Add the Profile Path to the Users Account in the form:

    \\Server\Profiles\%UserName%

    That will create the profile the next time the user logs off. That's really all you need to do to set the basics up.

    You might run into problems with User Profiles on Windows 9x, I've never tried using them with those operating systems.

    Windows XP Home also cannot handle roaming profiles because it can't join or log onto a Domain, deliberately restricted by MS.
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    by:georgecooldude
    How can I setup the outlook.pst to be stored on the server? Some are as big as 2gb. The lowest spec machines are windows 95 Pentiums on 10mbit ports. If the outlook is opened would the whole .pst be streamed down or would the computer just load up the require bits from it for the emails being opened at that time? It is vital I know this as we only have a 100mbit switch with 60 or so users. This sort of traffic would kill the network connection.

    Also as a profile gets downloaded locally onto a computer, does it get deleted afterwards or is it safe left on the computer?

    Look forward to some help.
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    by:georgecooldude
    Ah thanks Chris, I will try this out. Noticed we posted around the same time.
    Maybe you know the answer to my outlook query?


    And in the roaming profile you would have my docs, etc and all that. Could I say limit that to 40mb or so to discourage users from using this?
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    by:georgecooldude
    I am stuck at step 3.Computer Configuration \ Administrative Templates \ System \ User Profiles

    Where is this?
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    by:georgecooldude
    I've also been reading that if there is a problem and the connection to the server is lost as the user logs on then a default windows profile is loaded locally. Then went the server is back online this empty profile gets overwritten and replaces the one on the 2003 server. This is a serious flaw. Is it in 2003 or just NT? I am referring to this article when I read it:
    http://www.windowsitlibrary.com/Content/638/08/3.html
    Now I notice "Published:          February 1998" - Perhaps this has been overcome in the latest editions of windows?

    Also do you know of any significant risks/downfalls of having roaming profiles? Something that could make the staff very angry when something goes wrong?
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    by:georgecooldude
    ok i have found step 3 now. :-)

    I will uipdate once i am futher on
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    by:georgecooldude
    ok, I've set it up now. Do'h I wish I could delete some of those uneeded posts above now. Just makes it confusing.

    My question on outlook is still open though. I'm unsure how to set that up correctly. And I'm still unsure of how much bandwidth this is all going to take. At the moment we only have a 100mbit switch but the server has a gigabit ethernet port. Its going to be hard to convince people we need the upgrade. Althopugh would the extra 900mbit help out alot? I guess it would. ;)

    And I didn't see a mention of "Exclude Directories in Roaming Profiles: Enabled" anywhere.  I will run over the rest of the options as I think i need to enable a few more. Are there any I should definatly have enabled or disabled for performance/security?

    Thanks for your help :-)
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    Expert Comment

    by:Chris Dent

    Regarding PSTs. You mention some are 2Gb. You are aware that there's a hard 2Gb limit on PST files? Once you get past it the file corrupts itself and is rather difficult to recover.

    But storing (and directly accessing) files of that size on the network will create a lot of slow down, I'd say no more than 150Mb per PST file if it's going to be accessed over the network. Even so that's big for a Roaming profile, and not really recommended.

    But don't you use Exchange Server? Wouldn't it be better to move some of those users back onto the Exchange Server itself rather than using PST files?

    Anyway, back to profiles...

    Whenever the user logs on it will attempt to Download the profile from the Server to the local computer. If it can't get hold of the Profile it'll use a default profile. I believe the problem with a "basic" profile overwriting the one stored on the server is fixed in Windows 2000 \ XP.

    I'm not sure whether or not you'll get that kind of bug with Windows 9x \ NT though.

    The two options above are really the only ones I use for the profiles here, they help keep the profiles in a managable state.
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    by:georgecooldude
    We don't run Exchange Server. Something called "mdaeom" I think.

    I was also unaware of the outlook limit. Thats good to know.

    I guess you really need Exchange Server running then to store outlook files on the server
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    by:Chris Dent

    Ahh no worries, I remember MDaemon.

    Stick with PSTs then, but if you are storing and accessing them directly off the network you really need the size of them down...
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    Expert Comment

    by:Chris Dent

    Although really including the PST files as part of the profile isn't such a good idea, maybe consider saving them onto (yet another) share on the server?
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    by:georgecooldude
    So can I put them back into a roaming profile?

    Also how how can I calculate the time it takes for these to download over say a 1mibt, 10mbit, 100mbit, 1000mbit? What is the formula for this?

    Can it not be "streamed" over the network only as each email is needed? Or use some sort of ROBOCOPY type feature, where it only updates the changes to the file from the one cached? If I could do that then I would just have the server "cache" the email when the user logged off. Can this be done? Actually now I think of it I could create a robocopy script to run at log off and robocopy could actually do this. But it would make life easy if there was some sort of built in method.

    If I cannot store the outlook on the server or if it isn't bandwidth sensible I dont think I really need to use roaming profiles. Are there any benefits for using them? Most users dont move around anyway.


    I will be back in 40-60mins or so, I'm off to get a sandwich. :-)
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    by:Chris Dent

    Copying 2Gb over the network is going to take time however you do it. The PST files don't stream, it's not part of their functionality or Outlooks.

    The calculation is:

    2Gb converted into number of Mega Bits (1024 MBytes in a GByte, 8 bits in a byte): 2 * 1024 * 8 = 16384
    With 100 Mega Bits per second... Number of seconds to transfer: 16384 / 100 = 163.84 seconds (2.7 minutes).

    Very very rough since the copy won't be the only thing using the network, so you're probably looking at 3 - 5 minutes.

    If you have everyone logging on at the same time in the morning then this problem becomes much more apparent, even with a switch able to host multiple conversations at once a network card is still only allowed one at a time. Equally logging off shows the same problem if the file is stored as part of a roaming profile as it will have to upload to the server again.

    There isn't really a built in feature for managing PSTs over the network, and I think the Robocopy at logoff option is probably the best for you. It'll allow you to run the PST locally (fastest) and only perform a copy once.

    Make sure the users know about it though or they might decide that any PC taking a long time to log off deserves switching off...
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    by:georgecooldude
    Good help yet again Chris! ;-)

    I will pursue the ROBOCOPY option. Perhaps I even end up posting a new topic on it knowing me, hehehe.

    Thanks! =)
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