Microsoft

Set up roaming user profiles in Windows NT

If users tend to move around a lot, they can leave several newly created profiles in their wake. Roaming profiles help mitigate this issue. Here's how to assign a roaming profile to a user.

By default, Windows NT uses local profiles. When a user logs on to a specific computer for the first time, Windows NT makes a copy of the Default User folder and creates a separate profile for the user. NT saves every change a user makes in his or her profile, and every computer a user logs on to creates its own copy of the profile.

Of course, this can create a problem if users tend to move around a lot, leaving several newly created profiles in their wake. Roaming profiles help mitigate this issue. The profile and settings can travel with the user from one computer to another. Any change a user makes on one computer is applicable when the user logs on to another computer on the network.

A central server is necessary when implementing roaming profiles; it keeps a "master" copy of the profile for each user. When a user logs on to a computer, that computer contacts the server and downloads the profile. When the user logs off, the local machine copies the profile back to the central server.

To take advantage of roaming profiles, you must set up a central server and create a shared folder on that server. The central server doesn't have to be an especially powerful machine dedicated only to storing and managing profiles. It can be any machine with enough space that's accessible from all other machines.

To assign a roaming profile to a user, open the Properties dialog box for the account in User Manager. (Double-click the user account, and click Profile.) In the User Profile Path box, enter the path to the shared folder on the server.

For example, enter \\server\share\%username% in the box, where server is the name of the server storing the profiles, and share is the name of the shared folder. You can leave %username%; Windows NT will automatically replace it with the correct account name.

You don't have to manually create a folder for each user on the central server. Just create and share one folder, and Windows NT will create a subfolder for each user the first time he or she logs on.

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