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Folder Redirectoin Vs. Roaming Profiles

Posted on 2005-04-07
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Hi All,
If you set up folder redirection for the desktop, Application data, My Documents, and the Start Menu to use a mapped network folder, how is this different that using a roaming profile?

Scott
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Question by:smpross
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luv2smile earned 2000 total points
ID: 13729111
Well those are only specific folders that are located within the user's profile folder. Redirecting those only redirects those specific files/dolfers. A roaming profile means the ENTIRE profile is stored on the server, not just those particular folders.

If you open up a user profile folder (with all hidden and system files shown) then you'll see that there is lots more data there than just those folders.

One big on is the ntuser.dat file :)
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by:NJComputerNetworks
ID: 13729336
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/windowsserver2003/technologies/management/user01.mspx


The Folder Redirection feature of IntelliMirror allows an administrator to redirect the location of certain folders in the user profile to a network location. When these redirected folders are accessed either by the operating system or by applications, the operating system automatically redirects to the location on a network share specified by the administrator. From a user perspective, this is similar to the roaming scenario because users have the same settings regardless of which computers they use. However unlike roaming, these settings actually remain on the network share. Folder redirection can be used with all types of user profiles: local, roaming, or mandatory.

Using Folder Redirection with local profiles can provide some of the benefits of roaming profiles (such as having a users data available at any computer or maintaining data on the server) without the need to implement roaming profiles. Remember though, using Folder Redirection with a local profile would only result in the users documents and files being available from all computers. To have settings and configurations move with the user, you would need to use roaming profiles.

Combining Folder Redirection with roaming profiles gives the benefit of roaming profiles, while minimizing network traffic caused by synchronization of the profile.

Folder redirection is accomplished using Group Policy. The use of Folder Redirection with roaming profiles is discussed later in this article.

Table 2 below lists the folders that roam with the profile by default and indicates whether they can be redirected using Group Policy.

Table 2 Folders that Roam with the Profile

Folder Name Description Roams with profile by default Redirect with Group Policy
Application Data
 Per-user roaming application data.
 Yes
 Yes
 
Cookies
 Users Internet Explorer cookies.
 Yes
 No
 
Desktop
 Desktop items, including files and shortcuts.
 Yes
 Yes
 
Favorites
 Users Internet Explorer favorites.
 Yes
 No
 
Local Settings
 Temporary files and per-user non-roaming application data.
 No
 No
 
My Documents
 Users documents.
 Yes
 Yes
 
NetHood
 Shortcuts to Network Neighborhood items.
 Yes
 No
 
PrintHood
 Shortcuts to printer folder items.
 Yes
 No
 
Recent
 Shortcuts to recently used documents
 Yes
 No
 
Send To
 Shortcuts to document storage locations and applications.
 Yes
 No
 
Start Menu
 Users personal start menu.
 Yes
 Yes
 
Templates
 Per-user customized templates.
 Yes
 No
 

Non-Roaming Folders

The default behavior of roaming user profiles in Windows NT 4.0 is to include all the folders in the user profile directory. Thus when a user first logs on, all folders within the profile folder are copied from the server to the client at logon and copied back at logoff,

Windows 2000 introduced a per-user local settings folder into the user profile that is not copied during log on or logoff. This folder is intended for the storage of operating system components and other applications can store non-roaming per-user data. A typical example of the usage of this folder is for Microsoft Internet Explorer to store a users Favorites in the roaming portion of the user profile but store the Temporary Internet Files in the local (non-roaming) portion of the user profile. This will allow a user to retain access to their favorite URLs, but will save copying of temporary cache files at logon and logoff.

On computers running Windows Server 2003, Windows XP or Windows 2000, the History, Local Settings, Temp and Temporary Internet Files folders do not roam by default. Other Non-Roaming Folders are configured using the Group Policy Editor. The path for this setting in the Group Policy name space is:

User Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\User Profiles\Exclude directories in roaming profile

Once enabled this allows multiple folder names to be defined, all relative to the root of the users profile. Once included in the policy these folders will not be copied to the local machine at logon, nor copied back to the server at logoff. This setting is likely to result in decreased time taken for a user to logon, by restricting the amount of data within a user profile that really does roam with the user.

How Do Users Get Their Profile?

The way in which users get their profiles depends on the type of profile they're configured to use. This section describes this process.

Local Profile - New User

1.
 The user logs on.
 
2.
 The operating system checks the list of user profiles located in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList to determine if a local profile exists for the user.
 
3.
 Because this is a new user, no local profile is found. If the computer is part of a domain, the operating system checks if a domain wide default profile exists in a folder named Default User on the domain controllers NETLOGON share.

• If a domain wide profile exists, it is copied to a subfolder on the local computer with the username under %SYSTEMDRIVE%\Documents and Settings\. For example, a new user with the username JDoe would have a profile created in %SYSTEMDRIVE%\Documents and Settings\JDoe.
 
• If a default domain profile does not exist, then the local default profile is copied from the %Systemdrive%\Documents and Settings\Default User folder to a subfolder on the local computer with a username under %Systemdrive%\Documents and Settings\.
 
 
4.
 If the computer is not part of a domain, the local default profile is copied from the %Systemdrive%\Documents and Settings\Default User folder to a subfolder on the local computer with a username under %Systemdrive%\Documents and Settings\.
 
5.
 The users registry hive (NTUSER.DAT) is mapped to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER portion of the registry.
 
6.
 The users %userprofile% environment variable is updated with the value of the local profile folder
 
7.
 When the user logs off, a profile is saved to the local hard disk of the computer.
 

Local Profile - Existing User

1.
 The user logs on.
 
2.
 Windows checks the list of user profiles located in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList to get the path to the users profile.
 
3.
 The users registry hive (NTUSER.DAT) is mapped to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER portion of the registry.
 
4.
 The users %userprofile% environment variable is updated with the value of the local profile folder.
 
5.
 When the user logs off, the profile is saved to the local hard disk of the computer.
 

Roaming Profile - New User

1.
 The user logs on.
 
2.
 The path to the users roaming profile is retrieved from the user object on the Domain Controller.
 
3.
 Windows checks to see if a profile exists in the roaming path, if no profile exists a folder is created.
 
4.
 Windows checks the list of user profiles located in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList to determine if a cached copy of the profile exists. If a local copy of the profile is not found, and the computer is part of a domain, Windows checks to determine if a domain wide default profile exists in the Default User folder on the domain controllers NETLOGON share.

• If a domain wide profile exists, it is copied to a subfolder on the local computer with their username under %Systemdrive%\Documents and Settings\.
 
• If a default domain profile does not exist, then the local default profile is copied from the %Systemdrive%\Documents and Settings\Default User folder to a subfolder on the local computer with their username under %Systemdrive%\Documents and Settings\.
 
 
5.
 The users registry hive (NTUSER.DAT) is mapped to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER portion of the registry.
 
6.
 The users %userprofile% environment variable is updated with the value of the local profile folder
 
7.
 The user can then run applications and edit documents as normal. When the user logs off, their local profile is copied to the path configured by the administrator. If a profile already exists on the server, the local profile is merged with the server copy (see merge algorithm later in this paper for more details).
 

Roaming Profile - Existing User

1.
 The user logs on.
 
2.
 The path to the users roaming profile is retrieved from the user object on the Domain Controller.
 
3.
 Windows checks to see if a profile exists in the roaming path, if no profile exists a folder is created.
 
4.
 Windows checks the list of user profiles located in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList to get the path to the users cached profile if it exists.
 
5.
 The contents of the local cached profile are compared with the copy of the profile on the server, and the two profiles are merged. (See the new merge algorithm later in this paper for more details).
 
6.
 The users registry hive (NTUSER.DAT) is mapped to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER portion of the registry.
 
7.
 The users %userprofile% environment variable is updated with the value of the local profile folder
 
8.
 The user can then run applications and edit documents as normal. When the user logs off, the local profile is copied to the path configured by the administrator. If a profile already exists on the server, the local profile is merged with the server copy.
 
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