Roaming Profiles over A WAN: Best Solutions

We are a Windows Server 2003 network with a mix of R2 & Non R2 servers.  We use windows XP Pro SP3.  We are trying to figure out the best way to handle Roaming Profiles(Time and size issues) over a WAN (Do we even need roaming profiles?).  Our users  Raoming Profiles are large, even though we use Profile redirection.  We looked into using DFS (for roaming profiles), but since we were not on the same version of 2003, it was recommended not to do this until we could get all of our roaming profile servers to the same version.   We are wondering what other System & Network Administrators are doing to help alleviate this problem.  Has anyone tried WAN Acceleration, tools from scriptlogic,etc and what their experiences are.

Thank You
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There is no such thing as Profile Redirection
Combine Roaming Profiles with Folder Redirection.  There is no other options that I know of beyond DFS and Branch cache which as you said is a problem since you don't run the correct version of the server OS and consistently have the same version.

Do you need Roaming Profiles?  In almost 11 years of doing this I have never used them.  How much do the users actually "roam" anyway?  Is every place they go really that important that they even get the same profile?  You could very well be creating an inconvenience for the sake of trying to create a convenience.

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I have always found roaming profiles over slow links a hiding to nowhere.  When you add in the browser history over time, plus large files dropped on the desktops, briefcases and PST's, you know its going to lead to a world of hurt.

Are your users always using the WAN or do they are they office bound but using WAN's to occasionally access the network?  In that case, switch off roaming profiles over slow links.

If you are using WAN's between offices, then it might be better to keep roaming profiles local to the office and block them when away.
I handle our WAN activity with Terminal Services.   The TS box gets backed up to tape weekly (which backs up the profile contents too),...workstations do not get backed up.
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What do you mean roaming profile over WAN?
If the systems are mobile, there is no point of using roaming profile since presumably the same person will always use the same mobile system.
If these are roaming users within the same branch, you would need to define the AD/ non replicating DFS to prefer the local DC/non-replicating DFS share.

In a way you have a compound question.
One deals with roaming profiles/folder redirection while the other deals with getting the data from location A to replicate to location B and vice versa.

The prior comments provided added insight into the issue, the problem is that I do not have a clear picture of your setup as pwindle commented, does user A spend time at both locations?
Are users A-G are local to location A while users H-W are always at location B?

DUKESBANKAuthor Commented:
Arnold & Pwindell,

We are using non-portable workstations (i.e. not laptops) that stay put at each branch. We have a AVPN MPLS WAN structure with a minimum of T-1 level throughput speeds.
We have Roaming Profiles setup at each users main location, but they will have to fill in for other users at other locations that the company has at random dates and times.  We have 5 users who are home based in one location, but need to goto each different physical location at least 3-4 times a month.  We do use Folder Redirection for the MyDocuments directory, but are looking to see if we should redirect the folders in the Application Data Folder.
Thank You
If this is a matter of folder redirection, might not a cloud based solution like Dropbox be more suitable?  At least then they are only pulling down what's needed and it auto-updates from a selected folder.  There is an article here that might help you look at the virtues of that route.

At the end of the day it might not be the solution you are looking for, however it might just fit.
Your issues as you pointed out and other repeated, deals with the location where the data is stored the profiles or the redirected folders not replicating accross the WAN because of your OS mismatch.
Should be used for all: application data, my documents, desktop and start menu.  This will reduce the size of the profile significantly.
Application data is a rather large data repository deals with the various user settings for the various applications.
The redirection of all these folder will reduce the size of your user's profile to <100Mb.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the default location where outlook if used stores it's user specific data is in %userprofile%\local settings which do not get uploaded to the server on logout (as part of the roaming profile) and the folder can not be redirected as its name is local settings, meaning local to the system on which the user logged in.  There are Office admin templates that can be used as part of a GPO to alter the default location where the users' Outlook mailbox should be stored i.e. \\shareserver\sharename \\domain\sharename\application data\microsoft\outlook\

I think you just need to start looking at Terminal Services and forget it.  It is the only solution (in my opinion) that is simple to deploy, easy to maintain, and does not over complicate things.
 Other then buying what you need to deploy TS,...there in no ongoing cost after that,...and it will prove to be a good solution for other things that you have not even thought of yet that go beyond what you are asking about.
DUKESBANKAuthor Commented:
These solutions are points of views from experienced technicians that I can't find by just googling a question.

DUKESBANKAuthor Commented:

What is the best way to stop roaming profiles from loading over a WAN?

Is it to use the User slow link detection in group policies? or are there other solutions?

Thank You
DUKESBANKAuthor Commented:
Snibborg, Pwindell, & Arnold,

I have split the points between all of you, for your experience & answers.

Thank You
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