Soon after roaming profiles became standard
on Windows NT networks, administrators discovered a potential
problem–their size. Because profiles can grow to several hundred
MB, uploading and downloading them over the network can cause
problems. Imagine 1,000 users logging on each morning and waiting
for their 100-MB profiles to download.

To check the size of a profile, open Control
Panel, and double-click the System icon. On the User Profiles tab,
you can see the size of the profiles stored on the computer.

Microsoft shipped a special utility
(Proquota.exe) with Windows NT Service Pack 4, which allows you to
limit the hard disk space that user profiles can consume. When
profiles exceed their defined limits, users must delete some files,
or they can’t log off.

Proquota.exe also lets you prevent profiles
from sending specific folders over the network. For example,
temporary Internet files are part of the profile, but you usually
don’t need them on every computer. Because they can become quite
large, you can keep profiles from sending them over the

You can enable profile quotas by using a system
policy. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the System Policy Editor by running
  2. Select Options | Policy Template, and load
    the Common.adm and Winnt.adm templates.
  3. Create a new policy, or open an existing
  4. Open Default User, and expand Windows NT User

Choosing the Limit Profile Size option allows
you to limit the size of the profile. (The default is 30,000 KB.)
The Custom Message setting lets you set the reminder message when
users exceed the storage space.

Selecting the Exclude Directories In Roaming
Profile option prevents the duplication of some folders to the
server. By default, profiles don’t copy temporary Internet files
and temporary folders.

However, if you use Proquota.exe, be aware that it has some issues. For starters, users can easily circumvent
Proquota.exe by opening Task Manager and killing the process. This
allows them to continue working and to successfully log off even
when they exceed the defined storage space limitations. And nothing
prevents users from physically shutting down the machine instead of
logging off.

Proquota.exe can also misreport the size of
users’ profiles because it counts the explicitly excluded folders
from the roaming profile. This leads to inaccurate calculations and
potential logoff problems. Fortunately, Service Pack 6 fixed this

When users exceed their defined storage space
and want to log off, the computer prompts them to delete some
files. Proquota.exe displays a dialog box, which lists the files in
the profile.

But the dialog box doesn’t show small files.
This can pose a problem, especially with temporary Internet files.
Because these files are usually small, they don’t show up in the
dialog box.

Since users usually have hundreds or thousands
of them, they can take up a lot of hard drive space. Because
Proquota.exe won’t list the files, users must manually delete the
temporary Internet files from Internet Explorer by going to Tools |
Internet Options and clicking Delete Files.