User profiles include a user’s My Documents, Desktop, Favorites, Start Menu, Cookies, and a handful of hidden folders. Profiles are located by default in the Documents And Settings folder on a Windows 2000 clean installation, or in the %systemroot%\Profiles folder on a system upgraded from Windows NT. When you log on, settings in the registry point you to your profile based on your logon name.

You can right-click My Computer and choose Properties to access the User Profiles tab (Figure A). This tab lets you view profiles on the system, change profiles from local to roaming, copy profiles to another location, and delete profiles.

Figure A
Through the User Profiles tab, you can view, change, copy, and delete profiles.

The ability to copy a profile would seem like a good way to back up your profile if you’re reinstalling Windows on your computer or moving to a different computer. Using the Copy To button on this tab is a fine way to copy a profile—as long as you realize that Windows 2000 doesn’t copy the entire set of profile folders.

Beware the hidden Local Settings folder
The hidden folder Local Settings is part of the profile. Applications typically use this folder for nonessential, yet sometimes useful data such as temporary Internet files, Internet Explorer history, and other temporary (temp) files (Figure B). Outlook also defaults to using the Local Settings folder to store the archive, Hotmail, and other .pst files.

Figure B
The hidden Local Settings folder is visible only if your Windows 2000 folder view options are set to show hidden files and folders.

Windows 2000 doesn’t copy this folder across the network for a roaming profile; the Copy To feature in the Profiles tab also doesn’t copy the folder. In addition, the folder cannot be redirected using a group policy. If you want to copy the entire content of a user profile folder, you will need to do so using Windows Explorer. Keep this in mind the next time you want to back up a profile using the User Profiles tab.

For more information on user profiles and other user settings, check out Microsoft’s “Step-by-Step Guide to User Data and User Settings.”