Data Centers

Configuring user home directories in Windows Server 2003 R2

Derek Schauland walks you through the process of creating a user account in Windows Server 2003 R2 that can handle a home directory.

In versions of Windows prior to Windows Server 2003 R2, when you create a new user account, you have to create the home directory in a separate step. This leaves room for error if the folder is not configured, meaning the user will have no access to the home directory.

Windows Server 2003 R2 creates a home directory in the location you specify when creating the user account; this saves time and makes the process easier. I'll walk you through the process of creating a user account that can handle a home directory. (In the example, I will access a user account via Active Directory Users And Computers. The process is the same for new or existing accounts.)

Follow these steps to assign a home directory to a user account:

  1. On the server, open Active Directory Users And Computers.
  2. Locate the user account for which you want to add a home directory, right-click the account, and choose Properties.
  3. In the Properties dialog box, click the Profile tab.
  4. Using the Home Folder section of the dialog page, specify if the user's home directory should be a local folder on their computer (this can be useful for laptop users), or you can connect a network drive and use it as the home directory.

(Note: When configuring a home directory, you don't need to create the directory before assigning it to a profile; Windows Server 2003 R2 will take care of that when the user logs in. You will need to make sure each user has rights to their home directory by assigning appropriate NTFS and/or Share level permissions to the folder. If you skip this step, the user will have a folder but will not be able to store any files there.)
  • If you choose to connect a network drive, select the letter for the drive mapping and then enter the share path for the share that will hold the home directory. For example, you might select U: in the drop-down menu (for users) and then point to the users share on the file server by entering \\fileserver\usersshare. Click OK to save the user properties to the account.
  • If you decide to use a local folder, enter the path on the local computer where the folder will reside. You can enter the path using the actual drive letter and path C:\documents and settings\username\my documents or using an environment variable and path %userprofile%\My Documents. (The environment variable %userprofile% saves you typing and points each user to their folder within C:\documents and settings\. This can save a lot of time if you have many accounts to configure.)

By configuring home directories during account configuration, it will save you time and make home directories a bit more uniform.

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Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

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