How to resolve Roaming Profile 256k ntuser.dat Win2k3 domain with DFS

Posted on 2009-12-16
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
Hi, we have an ongoing problem on one of our clients networks that we have been unable to fully resolve. Any help in resolving the problem would be much appreciated.

Initially a single site running SBS 2003 with ten or so XP clients.
There were more users than PCs so roaming profiles were implemented to allow users to hot-desk. Over time two satellite offices were added. They each initially had a single PC that created a VPN connection to the office. Since then the number of users increased so additional PCs were rolled out at all three sites. The two satellite offices now have a Windows Server 2003 DC each and a site-to-site VPN back to the main office. There are various shares in DFS that store user data and profiles.
All clients and servers have Windows Desktop Search installed. Clients have Office 2007.

The user profiles point to \\domain.local\dfs\profiles\%USERNAME%\
My Docs, Desktop, App Folder redirected to \\domain.local\dfs\users\%USERNAME%\redirected folder name\
Caching disabled on Profile share(s).

The problem experienced is that when some users log on they get a blank profile  no Start Menu icons, no email config etc. PC gets stuck logging off. Looking on the server(s) and on the PCs the users ntuser.dat is 256k (when it is normally 2-5Mb). More often than not on both the PCs and on the server there are (many) prf*.tmp files that are the same size as the ntuser.dat before the profile corruption. Error messages in the logs indicate the file was locked or in use. When the system works (which it does for most users, most of the time) the prf*.tmp gets automatically deleted when the ntuser.dat is copied to/from the server share.

To work around the problem we getting the users to get their PCs back to the Ctrl+Alt+Del screen and then restoring from Volume Shadow Copies or recent backups ntuser.dat, ntuser.ini and ntuser.dat.log and deleting any prf*.tmp files.
When possible we allow replication of the restored files to propagate before allowing the users to log on, however, this is not always possible. Some users log on at different sites more than once a day.

Steps we have taken thus far to troubleshoot the problem:
New Group Policy: domain custom search policy.
Prevent indexing of local folders and shares that contain user profiles.
Exclude from Symantec Antivirus 10 scanning of *.dat, profile and Application Data directories.
Question by:LR-Support
    LVL 35

    Expert Comment

    by:Cris Hanna
    you mention DFS  are the 2 regular servers at the remote locations  win2k3 r2?  SBS does not include the bits to support DFS replication.  

    Author Comment


    The SBS server is SBS 2003 (not R2) and the remote servers are both Win2k3 R2. Replication is happening between both sites though...
    LVL 35

    Expert Comment

    by:Cris Hanna
    You can replicate between the two sites...just not with the main office where the SBS server is located.   Or am I you only want replication between the two remote offices?

    Author Comment

    Our issue is not with DFS per se but with the replicating Profile share contained therein.

    To clarify, the DFS is setup using hub and spoke where the SBS server at the main site is the hub.
    If a change is made on a share at one of the remote sites that change is first replicated to the main office and then from the main office to the other site. If the change is made at the main office it replicates to the remote office. As far as replication is concerned it is working.

    The reason I mentioned DFS is because the profile folders are accessed via DFS. When a user logs on at one of the sites they should pickup their profile from the local DFS share. The issue we are seeing is that on user logon/off the ntuser.dat is not bing copied to the PC or server. Instead a 256k ntuser.dat is generated which holds no useful settings. A prf*.tmp file is generated for each failed attempt. These prf*.tmp and 256k ntuser.dat files are then being replicated to the other sites which in effect means the users experience this problem on multiple PCs in multiple locations. With the 256 ntuser.dat they lose Outlook config setup, network places etc.
    LVL 35

    Accepted Solution

    You might check the end of this article
    And ensure that roaming profiles are setup correctly...I think you still have an issue trying to replicate this via DFS as SBS simply does not play in DFS-R.

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