Roaming Profiles vs Non-Roaming

I have a network with Server 2003. Many of my users like to log into different computers during the week. The problem is that when they log into a computer that they've never logged into, their drives aren't mapped and their Outlook is not setup.

Would roaming profiles help this? Are roaming profiles a good idea?
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Sounds like roaming profiles is what you need, one gotcha is if each machine doesnt have the same version of Outlook installed though.
Brian PiercePhotographerCommented:
Yes it would, but use folder redirection to keep profiles small
Joseph DalyCommented:
Roaming profiles is kind of a double edged sword it is good if the users dont store too much data within their profiles. It can be a huge headache if they do, you will be spending lots of time rebuilding and recreating corrupted profiles. If you are definitely going to go the roaming profile route I would suggest as KCTS stated and go with folder redirection. I would also consider setting all roaming profiles as mandatory.

Having a mandatory profile means that any changes saved to the desktop etc will not be saved when the user logs out. This combined with folder redirection will help keep your job administering the profile easier.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I don't like roaming profiles and don't recommend them.  At least not in their typical form.

When a profile roams, the profile is copied from the network to the local machine - it's NOT actively referenced over the network.  As a result, users with large profiles can have VERY long Logon AND logout times (as the profile copies back to the network.  Common causes of large profiles - PST files, Downloaded files on the desktop (including ISO images, videos), MANY documents, apps that store things in the profile that you don't realize is there.

This copying back and forth CAN create data loss.  Consider this scenario...
User comes in and logs on to a computer.  Profile has now copied to the desktop on Computer 1, spends 3 hours working on a presentation for that afternoon and saves it to the desktop.  User goes into the conference room (or to a laptop or another computer) and logs on there.  Profile is copied again - but the Presentation isn't there - it won't be on the network copy of the profile until the user logs out of the office computer.  Now, the user is distracted and goes to lunch with his friend, stopping by his office workstation and logging out.  The profile from the office computer is now copied back to the network.  GREAT!  Only, now someone comes into the conference room and logs him out of that computer... that profile OVERRIDES the one from his office and that 3 hours of work on the presentation due after lunch is lost!  Well, not just yet, but almost certainly will be unless great care is taken.  Point being, Roaming profiles CAN be dangerous.

So, I what I recommend is using Folder Redirection for the Application Data, My Documents, and Desktop folders.  (don't bother with the start menu - that rarely proves useful).  Then, implement what I call roaming registries.  That is, modify the ntuser.ini file to EXCLUDE all folders (except maybe the favorites) in the user profile.  Then, the only thing copied to the network is the favorites and registry.  And likewise, that's the only thing copied back to the workstation.

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I have setup roaming profiles before and would advise from an admin point of view not to use them.  If the server or network goes down users cannot work correctly. Use My Document folder redirection,

and Use this tool to setup outlook at logon automatically.
Brian PiercePhotographerCommented:
If for any reason romaijn profiles are not availabe due to a server problem for example then a temporary profile will be used - so its not the end of the world. I would certainly re-direct "My Documents" as that is typically the largest and most used folder - the others are "more optional"
I object.  My opinion on this is valid
mrmythAuthor Commented:
I want to give the points for this. I thought I did.

mrmythAuthor Commented:
Thanks for this very interesting and pertinent discussion. I thought I closed this thread a long time ago. Sorry.
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