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Server 2008 R2 Roaming Profiles Not Working with Windows 7 Pro workstations

Posted on 2014-12-29
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Last Modified: 2015-01-03
I have a server 2008 R2/Windows7 environment. I have read many articles on this exchange and and other sites and found the link to this site (http://www.grouppolicy.biz/2010/08/best-practice-roaming-profiles-and-folder-redirection-a-k-a-user-virtualization) and followed the instructions to a "T". However, after setting things up and logging in the users to one computer, logging them off and then into another computer I then I look at the path for the redirected folder on the server (logged in as administrator). I am able to view the Users$ folder, each user and each of the users sub folders. For each user I can view the redirected folders (which worked exactly as expected) and see a listing for the users profile.v2. However when I click on the profile.v2 folder I get a popup that says that “you currently do not have permission to view this folder. Click continue to permanently access this folder.” When I click continue I then get a box with “You have been denied access to this folder. To gain access you need to use the security tab.” I set up two test users and changed the permissions for one of them. I can now see the subfolders and files under the joe.v2 folder. There is a ntuser.dat file. However the roaming profile settings do not follow the user to the second computer. The redirected folders do but not the roaming profile. Is this due to permissions and if so what should I change them to? If not then what should I check or change to make this work? I have been trying for quite some time to get this to work as I have two clients in need of roaming profiles.
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Question by:dashman
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by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 40522573
What settings are not roaming and how have you verified that profiles are not roaming at all?  There are many settings that are "local only" and do not roam, even with roaming profiles. You can view what profiles are on a given machine by going to system properties->advanced tab->User Profiles Section->Settings button.  All of the profiles that are on a machine will be listed and there is a column that will say "roaming" or "local."  I have often seen cases where roaming profiles are working just fine, but a specific setting wasn't roaming (by design) so it was assumed they weren't roaming at all.
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by:dashman
ID: 40523107
Thanks for the reply. Some background. One of my clients was using SBS 2008 and I was able to successfully set up roaming profiles by just adding the UNC path to the users profile path in AD. I did not know about or use the GPOs to set up roaming profiles on that machine. We got a new server and did not need SBS any more so I did a clean install of Server 2008 R2 and could not get the previous method to work. That is when I started looking around and found the above mentioned article and followed that.

The settings tab shows the profile type and status as roaming but the desktop, task bar icons, browser settings etc are not remembered or transferred to the second computer when I log into that machine as that user. The desktop icons and broswer (IE only) favorites are correct because they as part of the folder redirection and as I said that is working fine. I would think that the items I mentioned above should be part of a roaming profile.

I await your reply.
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by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 40523114
Taskbar doesn't roam. Ever. The desktop wallpaper *setting* will roam, but if the wallpaper image is not on all machines then obviously the setting cannot be properly applied. This effectively means that the wallpaper selected must be a bitmap (not jpeg) and part of the OS image or in a shared location accessible by the machine and user accounts.

As far as IE... again, some settings roam, many do not. Site security lists do not roam, for example. So... so far... things sound like they are working as expected. Both the profile type and status are roaming... so I have no reason to think they aren't at this point.
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by:dashman
ID: 40523124
Wallpaper setting is one of defaults in Windows 7 OS. As far as IE I would think that home page would roam. Is there a way to have other browser settings to be part of roaming profile say if they use Chrome or Firefox and not IE as a lot of users do? What other things do roam so I can test this further?
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by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 40523151
To my knowledge there is no documented list. As far as other applications, it is up to the developer. On the local machine, there is a folder for profiles. C:\users for example. C:\users\username\appdata\roaming contains settings that roam. Appdata\local and appdata\locallow do not roam. An app developer can save settings in any of those locations so you have to refer to that app.

With redirected folders, App-V, and UE-V, roaming profiles have fallen out of favor so you don't often see many settings roam anymore. Most apps save settings in appdata\local. That impacts redirected appdata folders as well.
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by:dashman
ID: 40529224
Sorry for the delay in getting back with you as the New Year started off very hectic for me and this is the first chance I have had to get back to this issue.

I have looked at the two computers that I am using for testing and do see the C:\users\username\appdata\roaming folder which I was familiar with. When I look deeper into its contents I see several things that are puzzling. One is a folder roaming\microsoft\internet explorer\quick launch\user pinned\taskbar. There are items listed there that are different on each computer. You said that the taskbar does not roam. If it does not then why is the setting under "appdata\roaming"? Another anomoly in this roaming folder is under Microsoft\cookies. When I look at each computer the list is different. And another area is roaming\microsoft\start menu\programs\assesories. I removed some items (notepad) from one but it is still there on the other computer. And one last area is roaming\windows\start menu\themes. This is where I find the desktop background and they are different on each one (items are from native OS choices) and do not roam. If the appdata\roaming folderis part of roaming profile then I do not think that the roaming portion is not working.

I will say that as per the referenced article I have not included the appdata\roaming folder in the folder redirection. Perhaps that is why these items are not replicated between the two computers. Do you recommend including this folder?

Lastly I do not know what App-V and UE-V are. When you say that roaming profiles have fallen out of favor, do you mean that perhaps the newer versions of server do not handle roaming profiles the same as the older versions? I may just have to let the users know that many things will not "roam" anymore and they will just have to live with that.

I look forward to your comments and again apologize for the delay in getting back to you.
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Cliff Galiher earned 500 total points
ID: 40529390
The taskbar folder in the roaming folder is a throwback to Vista when the taskbar was "just" shortcuts. So the folder exists and it will roam in vista. But win7 isn't just shortcuts. One of the major features of win7 was the "wonder" or "miracle bar, where pinned items can have custom menus, jump lists, etc. As such, the "taskbar" is now as dependent on installed programs (to add extended functionality, custom jump lists, etc.) and therefore is not roamed and the folder is ignored by win7.  All of your other examples happen to have similar explanations.

The folder structure for roaming profiles is fairly generic, but whether an app or OS *uses* that folder anymore is another matter. This isn't about whether a server "handles" roaming profiles differently (servers don't care, you could store them on a Linux NAS if you wanted) ....but the *client* and various programs do matter a great deal. What you describe (so far) is behavior expected in win7.
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by:dashman
ID: 40529444
Ok. Then from I see one could set up folder redirection and achieve about all you will get as there does not appear too many items that "roam". I guess I will just have to get used to the "new" and forget about what had happened in the past.

Thanks so much for your input on this.
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