Step-by-Step Guide to User Data and User Settings

This document contains information about the User Data Management and User Settings Management features that are available in the Windows® 2000 operating system. User Data Management and User Settings Management are part of the new IntelliMirror® management technology in Windows 2000. These features allow administrators to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) for personal computers (PCs) in their organizations.

This step-by-step guide describes scenarios that illustrate the benefits of User Data Management and User Settings Management. It is designed to help administrators understand how they can use these features in their organizations.

On This Page

Roaming User Profiles
Folder Redirection
Offline Folders
Appendix: Roaming User Profile Changes in Windows 2000
Related Links


People use computers when they are not connected to a network (the stand-alone state) or when they are connected to a network (the networked state). In the course of doing their jobs, people frequently transition between these two states. The IntelliMirror management technologies, and specifically User Data Management and User Settings Management, make it possible for people to get the most out of their computers. Data and settings follow users without regard to whether they are in the stand-alone state or connected to a network. The increased availability of user data and personal environments is a result of storing that information on network servers and in synchronized off-line locations on the local hard drive.

Users can log on to any computer and have access to their own data and documents, their own preferences, and their own applications, without having to understand why it occurs. While their exposure to the IntelliMirror features is transparent—they do not see a Start menu item called IntelliMirror—the administrator does need to perform certain configuration tasks.

This step-by-step guide discusses how to get started with two of the primary feature sets in IntelliMirror: User Data Management and User Settings Management.


Table 1 IntelliMirror Features

This document is based on the common infrastructure that will allow you to learn about and evaluate these new features, and think about the manner in which you will use them in your organization.

User Data Management

User Data Management is concerned with the data that the user can see primarily user documents and personal files. User data can follow the user because Windows 2000 can store the data in specified network locations while making it appear as if it were stored locally on the user's computer.

There are several ways an administrator can make data follow its user. The administrator can configure the functionality manually, set it up on a per-user basis, or configure it through Group Policy.

The key method to make data follow its user is to redirect specific user data folders (such as My Documents) to a network location, and then make this location available for off-line use.

When a user saves a file to the My Documents folder, the file is actually saved on the network location, and the local computer copy is synchronized with the network copy. This synchronization occurs in the background and is transparent to the user.

The user works in the same way whether in the stand-alone or networked state., The user is unaffected by temporary network outages. When working offline, for convenience or because of a network failure, all modifications and changes to user data are made to the local copy. When the computer is reconnected to the network, synchronization with the network copy occurs automatically.

If the networked and local copies have both changed, the Synchronization Manager asks the user whether to save both copies or synchronize one copy with the other.

User Settings Management

User settings, like user data, can follow the user—regardless of where the user logs on. User settings follow users because IntelliMirror uses Group Policy and the Active DirectoryTM service to store all important user settings.

Administrators can use settings to customize and control users' computing environments and to grant or deny permission for users to customize their own computing environments. Where users have permission, they will often customize the style and default settings of their computing environments to suit their needs and work habits.

Settings contain three types of information:

  • Vital information (both personal and administratively set).

  • Temporary information.

  • Data specific to the local computer.

If users are permitted to use more than one computer at a time, temporary and local computer information typically should not roam. This can cause unnecessary overhead, and differences between computers could disrupt the roaming function.

When Windows 2000 manages user settings using Group Policy and well-behaved applications, it ensures that only vital information is retained. Well-behaved applications are applications that meet the Certified for Windows 2000 specification or those that meet the best practices for user and computer state separation. Temporary and local computer settings are dynamically and appropriately regenerated as required. This allows users to have a similar experience on any computer.

User Data and User Settings Management Technologies

The technologies that enable User Data Management and User Settings Management are similar. The main difference between the technologies is that a user is familiar with his or her data, while the same user may not be familiar with settings. Examples of settings include a user's custom dictionary, .ost files, and data that controls the look and behavior of applications.

The technologies that this step-by-step guide will address are:

  • Roaming user profiles. These allow users to roam among computers within the corporate network. Users who have a roaming user profile (RUP) may log onto a computer, run applications and edit documents, and log off. At log off, their user profiles are copied to a server. When they log on to another computer, the profile information, including any Start menu customizations and the contents of the My Documents folder, are copied to the other computer.

  • Folder Redirection. This is a unique feature of Windows 2000 that allows users and administrators to redirect the path of a folder to a new location. The new location can be a folder on the local computer or a directory on a network share. Users have the ability to work with individual or shared documents on a secure server as if the documents were based on the local drive.

  • Offline Files. These make it possible for users to work with networked documents. If a user has enabled a file or folder to be available offline, a copy of the shared file or folder is stored on the local computer. If the computer has no network access, the user can edit the local version of the cached document. When network access is restored, the edited document is copied back to the network share.

The remainder of this step-by-step guide explains how to use each of these three technologies.

Roaming User Profiles

In general, the implementation of roaming user profiles (RUP) in Windows 2000 is similar to the Windows NT 4.0 implementation. Details on the differences are documented in the Appendix, along with some best practices on integration scenarios.

If you are unfamiliar with roaming user profiles, you should read the sections on it in the white paper, Guide to Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Profiles and Policies


Before beginning the steps in this guide, you need to build the common infrastructure, which specifies a particular hardware and software configuration. The common infrastructure is covered in parts one and two of the Step-by-Step Guide to a Common Infrastructure for Windows 2000 Server Deployment If you are not using the common infrastructure, you need to make the appropriate changes to this instruction set.

While not required, we recommend that you read and perform the exercises available in the Step-by-Step Guide to Group Policy. It will give you a clearer understanding of how Group Policy works and can be applied in the context of remote installations.

Note: You can perform the steps in this guide either before or after the steps in the Group Policy guide. If you performed the steps in the Group Policy guide prior to this, it may be necessary to undo some of the policies (particularly the loopback policies).

IT Administrator

The administrator logs on to a server, creates a network share to store Roaming User Profiles, and then makes users "roaming users."

To create a shared folder to store roaming user profiles:

  1. Logon to a server as an administrator.

  2. Double-click the My Computer icon to open it.

  3. Double-click the hard-drive icon of the Local Disk where you want to place the roaming user profiles.

  4. In the File menu, select New and click Folder.

  5. Under the New Folder in the selected drive pane, type: Profiles

  6. Press Enter.

  7. Right-click the Profiles folder and select Properties from the context menu. The Profile Properties page appears.

  8. Click the Sharing tab.

  9. Select Share this folder, as shown in Figure 1 below.


    Figure 1: Profiles Properties

  10. Click OK. Close this window.

To make Clair Hector a roaming user

  1. On the Start menu, point to Programs, and click Administrative Tools.

  2. Click Active Directory Users and Computers.

  3. Click the + next to to expand the tree (if it is not already expanded).

  4. Click the + next to Accounts.

  5. Click Production, as shown in Figure 2 below.


    Figure 2: Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in

  6. Right-click Clair Hector, and select Properties from the context menu.

    Note: Steps 7 and 8 are necessary only if you are running this procedure on a domain controller. These two steps allow Clair to logon to the domain controller locally. If you are performing these steps on a member server, skip steps 7 and 8 and proceed to step 9.

  7. Click Add Members to a Group.

  8. Click Administrators and click OK.

  9. Click the Profile tab.

  10. For the profile path, type:


    Note: \\HQ-RES-DC-01 is the name of the server you are using for this procedure. %username% is an environment variable. In this case, %username% maps to Clair Hector's user name, Clair. When Clair Hector logs on to a computer, Windows NT will create the directory "Clair" in the Profiles share on HQ-RES-DC-01.

  11. Click OK and close the window.


In this part of the roaming user profiles scenario, log on as Clair Hector ( who is now a roaming user.

  1. Log off by clicking Start, Shutdown, and Log off Administrator. Click OK.

  2. Press the Ctrl-Alt-Del keys.

  3. Log on with the user name Clair and click OK.

To create a custom bitmap (wallpaper):

  1. On the Start menu, point to Programs, and then click Accessories.

  2. Click Paint.

  3. Use the Paint program to draw something to use as wallpaper.

  4. Click the File menu.

  5. Click Save As.

  6. In the File name text box, type: MyBackground

    Notice that the system saves the file in the My Pictures folder.

  7. Click Save.

  8. To close Paint, on the File menu, click Exit.

Note: If you completed the Group Policy guide before this, you may need to adjust the policy to ensure that Clair Hector has the ability to change her wallpaper.

To make the bitmap the wallpaper (background):

  1. Right-click the Desktop.

  2. Click Properties on the context menu.

  3. Select the bitmap you just created in the list box, as shown in Figure 3 below.


    Figure 3: Display Properties

  4. Click OK. The new wallpaper displays on the screen**.**

At this point, log off the computer and log on to a different computer as Clair Hector ( The wallpaper on the second computer should be the same as the wallpaper on the first computer; that is, Clair Hector's settings should follow her.

Folder Redirection

Folder redirection is a way to place data into a set of folders in the users profile on the network. This can be combined with local or roaming user profiles. Besides the availability and backup benefits of having the data reside on the network, users will also experience performance gains with slow links and subsequent logons.

MyDocuments: A Brief History

MyDocuments is the new location for the user to save their documents and pictures. Input from corporate customers using Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT indicates that users tend to save files all over the hard drive partly because they can, and partly because applications encourage it. The common File Open and File Save dialogs default to the directory path of the application when the user indicates no other path. User documents frequently ended up in the system and program files directories.

The common dialogs have been updated in Windows 2000 to point to MyDocuments by default, encouraging users to save documents there. With Windows 2000-based networks, administrators can limit users to saving in their profile folders only, which enforces MyDocuments as the Save location. The default location of the profile is moved outside of the system directory (see Profiles section for more information on profiles).

Why would you want to redirect the MyDocuments location? This decision was based on the trend toward stateless machines in many highly managed organizations. Redirecting MyDocuments allows an organization to move difficult to recreate, and non-recoverable data from the local machine to network locations. Very few customers use the HOMEDIR feature in Windows NT 4.0. Data from corporate customers indicates that they currently manage personal(not team or project) documents by either leaving everything local and letting the user find a way to protect the file, or by creating a logon script to map to a share. Administrators often need to put groups of users on a file server, thus creating a natural tendency to use Group Policy to set the network location. Additional granularity on grouping users to servers was added.

Application Data

Application data was added to the set of redirected folder for two reasons.

  • Performance gains with roaming user profiles. Applications often place large data files, such as dictionaries, in the Application Data portion of the user's profile, which roams with the user. To improve performance, Application Data was added to the list of folders that can be redirected. This means that users can still have access to Application Data (such as the custom dictionary), but without the need to download the large files at every logon.

    Better user environment replication. Most of the key elements of a user environment can be available on a network location if redirection of the Application Data folder is combined with:

    • Redirection of the My Documents folder.

    • Roaming user profiles.

    • Policy based deployment of applications.

    This means that users My Documents folder, data about their installed and assigned applications, and user settings will be available to users when they log on to any computer on the network.

Start Menu

The Start Menu was added to the list of folders that can be redirected to support configurations such as a Kiosk type environment, where users have a limited choice of Start Menu items. If an organization isn't using Software Deployment to set the items in the Start Menu, an administrator can redirect the Start Menu folder to point to a pre-configured Start Menu.

Other Technologies to Consider In Relation to Folder Redirection

Offline Files

This technology applies to any mapped/mounted drive that contains documents or data that a user might want to use offline. This technology is 100 percent standalone. In other words, it does not have to be coupled with Folder Redirection. It is set up and configured on network shares outside of the Folder Redirection Snap-in. When the network is not available because of geography (for example, the machine is on an airplane) or because of technical problems (for example, a router is down), the user still needs to get the job done.

Best Practice If you use redirected folders of any type, couple it with Offline Files. The Table 2 below shows the recommended configuration for Offline Files.

Table 2. Offline Files Configuration


Autocaching for Documents or Manual Caching for documents (if you want users to have to manually select files for offline use)


Autocaching for Programs


Autocaching for Programs


Autocaching for Programs

Distributed File System (DFS)

If you are using Offline Folders you should not use DFS. The following steps take you through enabling the above.

IT Administrator

The administrator logs on to a server, and redirects users' My Documents folders to a server.

To create a shared folder for users' My Documents folders:

  1. Log on to the HQ-RES-DC-01 server as an administrator.

  2. Double-click the My Computer icon to open it.

  3. Double-click the hard-drive icon of the Local Disk where you want to place the My Documents folders.

  4. In the File menu, select New and click Folder.

  5. Under the New Folder in the selected drive pane, type: Docs.

  6. Press Enter.

    Note: Do not create subfolders for each user—the Folder Redirection Snap-in will do this for you.

  7. On the File menu, click Properties.

  8. Click the Sharing tab.

  9. Select Share this folder.

  10. Click the Caching button.

  11. In the Setting list box, select Automatic Caching for Documents, as shown in Figure 4 below.


    Figure 4: Caching Settings

  12. Click OK.

  13. Click OK. Close the window.

To redirect the users' My Documents folders to the network

  1. From the Start menu, point to Programs and then click Administrative Tools.

  2. Click Active Directory Users and Computers.

  3. Double-click

  4. Double-click Accounts.

  5. Click Production.

  6. Right-click Production and select Properties.

  7. Click the Group Policy tab.

  8. Click New.

  9. For the New Group Policy Object name, type: Redirect My Docs, as shown in Figure 5 below.


    Figure 5: Redirect My Docs dialog

  10. Press the Enter key.

  11. Click Edit to edit the Redirect My Docs Group Policy Object (GPO).

  12. Under User Configuration, double-click Windows Settings.

  13. Double-click Folder Redirection.

  14. Click My Documents.

  15. On the Action menu, click Properties.

  16. On the My Documents Properties page shown in Figure 6 below, in the Settings drop down box select Basic -- Redirect everyone's folder to the same location.


    Figure 6: My Documents Properties

  17. On the My Documents Properties page, type:


    in the Target folder location text box.

    The default settings are the best practice. To view the settings:

  18. Click the Settings tab to see a property page similar to Figure 7 below.


    Figure 7: My Documents Properties

  19. Select Grant the user exclusive rights to My Documents. This sets the NTFS security descriptor for the %username% folder to full control for the %user% and local system.

  20. Select Move the contents of My Documents to the new location. This moves any documents the user has in the local My Documents to the server share.

  21. Click OK.

  22. Click the + next to My Documents.

  23. Right-click My Pictures.

  24. Click Properties.

  25. Select Follow the My Documents Folder.

  26. Click OK.

  27. Close the Group Policy snap-in.

Offline Folders


Before beginning this section, be sure to complete the steps in the preceding Folder Redirection section.

To create a document in the My Documents folder:

  1. Logon to the workstation (HQ-RES-WRK-01) as Clair (

  2. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, and click Notepad.

  3. In Notepad, type: Review Jon Grande's presentation by Friday.

  4. On the File menu, click Save As.

    Make sure that the Save As dialog box is pointed at the My Documents folder. In the File name text box, type: Review

  5. Click Save.

  6. To close Notepad, click Exit on the File menu.

To make the My Documents folder available for offline use:

  1. From the desktop, right-click My Documents.

  2. Click Make Available Off-line from the context menu.

  3. In the Offline Files Wizard, click Next.

  4. Verify that the option Automatically synchronize the Offline Folders when I log on and log off my computer is selected. Click Next.

  5. The Enable reminders check box will be selected. Click Finish.

  6. In the Confirm Offline Subfolder dialog box, select Yes, make this folder and all of its subfolders available offline. Click OK.

  7. Double-click My Documents to open the folder.

    Note: Notice that the icon for Review has changed as shown in Figure 8 below to reflect Review's availability while offline.


    Figure 8: Review Icon

  8. Close the My Documents folder.

To disconnect from the network:

  1. To disconnect from the network to simulate working offline, disconnect your network cable from your computer.

  2. Double-click My Documents.

  3. Eventually, you will see a computer icon on the tray (the lower right-hand corner of the screen) as shown in Figure 9. If you hover the mouse near this icon, it will say, "Offline Files—the network is not available." The network connection is X-d out.

    Figure 9: Disconnected from Network

    Figure 9: Disconnected from Network

To edit a document while offline:

  1. Double-click Review in the My Documents folder to open it.

  2. Type the following new line: Pass the results to Teresa Atkinson by Monday.

  3. On the File menu, click Save.

  4. On the File menu, click Exit.

To reconnect to the network:

  1. Reconnect the network cable.

To synchronize offline documents with the server:

  1. In the System Tray, click the computer icon shown in Figure 10.

    Figure 10: Network Available

    Figure 10: Network Available

  2. In the Offline Files Status dialog box, click OK.

  3. Click OK to synchronize files.

The version of Review that was stored on the server is replaced with the newer Review file from the local computer.

Note: You can also synchronize using Synchronize in the File menu after selecting the file you want to synchronize, or by using the Synchronize button in the web view for that file.

To verify that changes were propagated to the server

  1. On the desktop, double-click My Documents.

  2. In the My Documents window, double-click Review.

  3. In Notepad, you see the text that you edited while offline.

Appendix: Roaming User Profile Changes in Windows 2000

This section provides information on the differences between Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000.

There are a few changes to roaming user profiles to increase the usability and resilience of the feature:

  • New Merge Algorithm

  • New Name space

  • New Location

There are also two features that were added in Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 4 that are included.

  • Ability to not roam folders.

  • Quotas on profile size.

Improved Merge Algorithm

This section describes how Windows 2000 reconciles local and server copies of a user's profile. To improve the experience of users, Windows 2000 roaming profiles have a new algorithm to synchronize copies of a profile, which improves the user experience of roaming profiles over Windows NT 4.0. Windows 2000 solves problems occurring when a user logs into two different computers simultaneously. The Windows NT 4.0 algorithm worked well in the most common cases where users logged on to only a single computer; but when users logged onto multiple computers at the same time they sometimes experienced unexpected behavior due to the assumption that each computer had the "master" copy of the profile.

For Windows 2000, algorithm was changed to support the merging of user profiles at the file level and support for last writer wins.

To illustrate the behavior of the new algorithm, several examples are presented that compare the behavior of Windows NT 4.0 to Windows 2000.

Overview of Windows NT 4.0 Merge Algorithm

In Windows NT 4.0, the algorithm is an Xcopy with full synchronization support. That is, it has the ability to mirror a profile from one location to another, and any extra files or directories in the destination location are removed. The algorithm is based on the concept that there is only one master profile at any one time. When the user is logged on, the master profile is on the local computer. When the user is not logged on, the master profile is on the server.

Here is how the algorithm worked in more detail:

  1. The user logs onto computer A (primary computer).

  2. The roaming profile is Xcopied from the server location to the local profile location.

  3. The user creates some documents, changes colors, and settings. All of these changes are stored in the local profile location.

  4. At logoff time, the profile is Xcopied from the local location back to the server location.

This is an exact mirroring process. If there are any extra files in the server location, they are deleted to make sure that the server location is a duplicate of the local profile. As mentioned previously, this works well in the majority of cases, where users log on to only a single computer; but users who log on to multiple computers at the same time might experience unexpected behavior.

Examples of Windows NT 4.0 Merge Algorithm Issues

When using Windows NT 4.0, a problem arises if the user has two or more computers. Building on the preceding example:

  • The user logs on to computer A.

  • The user logs on to computer B.

  • The user creates a document on computer A and stores it in the user profile.

  • The user logs off of computer A.

  • The user logs off of computer B.

The document that the user created in step 3 is deleted because, from the perspective of computer B, the master profile is stored locally. The extra files on the server must be deleted so that the local profile is currently the master server profile.

The Windows 2000 algorithm preserves the document because it is able to compare the time the document was created with the time the profile was loaded. If the document was created or written to after the profile load time, the file must be preserved because it came from a different source.

A similar problem can occur when files are modified. For example, suppose that the user has a document called Document.doc in his or her My Documents folder in the server copy of the profile:

  • The user logs on to computer A.

  • The user logs on to computer B.

  • The user modifies the document on computer A.

  • The user logs off computer A.

  • The user logs off computer B.

The changes made to the document on computer A are lost because when the user logged off computer B, the computer overwrote the new version of the document with the old one; the computer is programmed to recognize that it had the master version of the profile.

Again, the Windows 2000 algorithm is able to preserve the changes to the document because it is can compare the time the document was modified with the time the profile was loaded. This results in a much better experience for the user.

Overview of Windows 2000 Merge Algorithm

Windows 2000 merges user profiles at the file level. This means that the merged profile will contain the superset of files that are in the local and server copies of the user's profile. In the case where the same file is in both the local and server copy of the profile, the file that was modified most recently is used. This means that new files and files which have been updated will not be deleted or overwritten. This is a much finer level of granularity than was possible on Windows NT 4.0.

When a document or file is updated, the new algorithm compares the timestamp of the destination file with the timestamp of the source file. If the destination file is newer, it is not overwritten.

When a user logs on to a computer, the current time is saved; when the user logs off, this timestamp is used to determine which files are new in the server profile and which files have been deleted in the local profile. For example, if the server profile has a document in the My Documents folder called Review.doc and this file does not exist in the local profile, either it is a new file from a different computer, or it was originally in the local profile and the user deleted it. By knowing the time when this new profile was loaded, it is possible to compare it against the timestamp of Review.doc. If Review.doc was created or written to after the profile load time, the file must be preserved because it came from a different source. If the Review.doc timestamp is older than the load time, Review.doc must be deleted because it would have been copied to the local computer at load time.

In addition, some files might need to be removed from the local cache so that items that were deleted between sessions remain deleted. For example:

  • The user logs on to computer A.

  • The user creates or modifies a document on computer A.

  • The user logs on to computer B.

  • The user logs off computer B; computer B has a copy of the document.

  • The user deletes the document and logs off computer A.

To make sure that the files are deleted, the cached version of the profile is synchronized with the profile server when a user logs on. All files in the local cache that are not present in the server and that were not modified since the last logoff time are removed. By using these changes, Windows 2000 can merge user profiles.

New Namespace

There are several new folders in the All Users profiles:

  • Templates

  • Favorites

  • Documents

  • Application Data has been moved into the profile

The following screenshot shows the structure of the user profile:


Each user's profile contains the following folders:

  • Application data - Application-specific data, such as a custom dictionary for a word processing program. Application vendors decide what data to store in this directory.

  • Cookies – Internet explorer cookies.

  • Desktop -Desktop items, including files and shortcuts.

  • Favorites – Internet Explorer favorites

    Local Settings – Application settings and data that do not roam with the profile. Usually either machine specific, or too large to roam effectively.

    • Application data – machine specific application data

    • History – Internet Explorer history

    • Temp – Temporary files

    • Temporary Internet Files – Internet Explorer offline cache.

  • Favorites. Shortcuts to program items and favorite locations.

  • My Documents. The new default location for any documents that the user creates. Applications should be written to save files here by default.

  • My Pictures

  • NetHood.* Shortcuts to Network Neighborhood items.

  • PrintHood.* Shortcuts to printer folder items.

  • Recent. Shortcuts to the most recently used items.

  • SendTo. Shortcuts to document storage locations and applications.

  • Start Menu. Shortcuts to program items.

  • Templates.* Shortcuts to template items.

* These directories are hidden by default. To see these directories, change the View Options.

By default, the Local Settings folder, and its subfolders do not roam with the profile. This folder contains temporary files, application data that is not required to roam with the user, and non-critical settings and data too large to roam effectively.

It is also possible, and highly recommended in some scenarios, for an administrator to use the Folder Redirection features of IntelliMirror to redirect the location of certain folders (such as My Documents) to a network location. By doing this, and administrator can make files and folders appear to roam with the user, when in fact they remain on the network share. Folder redirection can be used with all types of user profile; local, roaming or mandatory. Using folder redirection with local profiles can provide some of the benefits of roaming profiles (having your data available from any machine, data maintained on the server etc.) without the need to implement roaming profiles. Remember though, using folder redirection with a local profile would only result in the users documents being available from all machines - to have settings and configuration move with the user, you would need to use roaming profiles.

Combining folder redirection with roaming profiles gives the benefit of roaming profiles (having your data available from any machine, data maintained on the server etc.), while keeping network traffic due to synchronization of the profile to a minimum. Folder redirection is accomplished using Group policy, and the use of folder redirection with roaming profiles is discussed later in this document.

The following table details the folders that roam with the profile by default, and whether they are Redirectable using Group Policy.

Folder Name


Roams with profile by default

Redirectable with Group Policy

Application Data

Per-user roaming application data




User's Internet Explorer cookies








User's Internet Explorer favorites



Local Settings

Temporary files and per-user non-roaming application data



My Documents

User's documents.












Shortcut's to recently used documents



Send To




Start Menu

User's personal start menu




Per-user customized templates



Default folder locations

The default locations for the user profile have been changed for Windows 2000. To assist in securing machines, the profiles were moved out of the system folder. The location of the user's profile depends on the operating system that was in place previously, the following table shows the possible locations:

Operating system

Location of user profile

Windows 2000

New installation (no previous operating system) %SYSTEMDRIVE%\Documents and Settings; for example, C:\Documents and Settings

Windows 2000 upgrade of Windows NT 4.0

%SYSTEMROOT%\Profiles; for example, C:\WinNT\Profiles

Windows 2000 upgrade of Windows NT 3.51

%SYSTEMDRIVE%\Documents and Settings; for example, C:\Documents and Settings

Windows 2000 upgrade of Windows 95 or Windows 98

%SYSTEMDRIVE%\Documents and Settings; for example, C:\Documents and Settings

There is now a switch to the unatted.txt file that allows the installer of Windows 2000 to specify the location of the Profiles folder. To do so, set the following in "GuiUnattended" Section of unattended file:

profilesdir = "%systemroot%\profiles" 

Note: Once Windows is installed, there is no supported way to move the Profiles folder.

Non-roaming Folders

In Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 4, roaming user profiles are copied from the server to the client when the user logs on, and copied back when the user logs off. However, they introduce a per-user local settings folder into the user profile that is not copied during log on or log off sessions. In this folder, operating system components and other applications can store non-roaming per-user data.

For example, Microsoft Internet Explorer can store a user's Favorites in the roaming portion of the user profile and store the temporary Internet files in the local, non-roaming portion of the user profile. By default, the Temp and Temporary Internet Files folders are excluded from the roaming user profile. You can configure additional folders to not roam by using the Group Policy snap-in. If you enable this policy, you can exclude additional folders. You cannot use the Exclude Directories In Roaming Profile to include the Temp and Temporary Internet Files folders in a roaming user profile.

Quotas on Profile Size

The Proquota.exe program is a tool that you can set to monitor the size of a user's profile. If an individual user's profile exceeds the predetermined file limit, the user cannot log off from the computer until the user reduces the size of their files.

Profile quota size is managed by using the Group Policy snap-in.

If you are combining Folder Redirection of My Documents and roaming user profiles, it is best to not use quotas on the profile. The items that would normally be written to the user profile are done so on behalf of the user by the operating system and applications, so the user is not aware of them. Examples of these files include Custom.dic and Favorites. You can also use the policy that removes cached versions of the profile on logoff, if you are concerned with disk size on a multi-user computer — for example, a public computer where thousands of users can log on.

Other Technologies to Consider in Relation to Roaming User Profiles

Folder Redirection

As noted above, Folder Redirection is an excellent method for moving large files out of the profile. This gives the user fast log on while still providing access to those files during a session. At a minimum, you should consider using Folder Redirection for MyDocuments.

Offline Files

As roaming user profiles already has its own synchronization mechanisms, it is not recommended that you combine RUP with Offline Files.

Best Practice If you use RUP, do not couple it with Offline Files.

Distributed File System(DFS)

Best Practice Use DFS with one alternative live at a time, and only enable another in the event of failure or maintenance tasks.

Important Notes

The example company, organization, products, people, and events depicted in these step-by-step guides are fictitious. No association with any real company, organization, product, person, or event is intended or should be inferred.

This common infrastructure is designed for use on a private network. The fictitious company name and DNS name used in the common infrastructure are not registered for use on the Internet. Please do not use this name on a public network or Internet.

The Microsoft Active Directory structure for this common infrastructure is designed to show how Microsoft Windows 2000 features work and function with the Active Directory. It was not designed as a model for configuring an Active Directory for any organization—for such information see the Active Directory documentation.

Step-by-Step Guide to a Common Infrastructure for Windows 2000 Server Deployment:

Installing a Windows 2000 Server as a Domain Controller

Windows 2000 Server Online Help

Windows 2000 Planning and Deployment Guide

Exploring Management Services

Windows 2000 Pro Help