Different type of profile

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Default User Profile

  • A 'default user' profile is a template that Windows uses when it creates temporary or new profiles (either local or roaming).
  • Every PC has a 'default user' profile (stored at "C:\Documents and Settings\Default User" for English Windows XP, and set as hidden).
  • If there is a 'default user' profile stored on the NETLOGON share of the logon server, then this is used in preference to the local version.

All Users Profile

  • The 'All Users' profile is another special profile which is loaded on top of whatever profile a person is assigned.
  • The 'All Users' profile is most commonly used by applications to install desktop and start menu shortcuts to all current and future users of a specific computer. If the shortcuts were placed into the 'default user' profile they would not be picked up by accounts which already had a profile stored on the computer.
  • The NTUSER.DAT file for the 'All Users' profile doesn't actually store any registry settings at all.

Temporary Profiles

  • Windows will create a 'temporary' profile when a user who has a specified roaming or mandatory profile logs on, but the specified profile is unavailable (e.g. if the location of the specified profile cannot be contacted)
  • Temporary profiles are automatically deleted with the user logs off. No data persists beyond the current session.

Local Profiles

  • Windows will create a local profile when a user who does not have a specified roaming or mandatory profile logs on.
  • The local profile will remain on the PC when the user logs off.

Roaming Profiles

  • A roaming profile is simply a copy of a local profile which is stored at a remote location.
  • When a user that has a specified roaming profile logs on, the profile is copied from the remote location to the local PC (Windows does check to see if there is already a local copy of the profile for the user which is no less current)
  • When a user that has a specified roaming profile logs off, the profile is copied from the local PC to the remote location (Windows does check to see if the local copy is more up to date than the remote copy)
  • If the policy setting 'delete cached copies of roaming profiles' is enabled, then the local copy of the profile will be deleted when the user logs off.
  • Roaming profiles can be refined by either redirecting certain folders to different network locations (this saves on the content of these folders being downloaded/uploaded at user logon/logoff) or by excluding certain folders from roaming (again, helps save on network bandwidth).
  • Please note that if a roaming profile is large it may take quite some time to copy to the computer being logged onto. For example if a user has several files either in their roaming desktop or documents folder, such as a movie file, it could take more time than a lesson allows for those files to be transferred to the local desktop or documents folder. Caution should be taken when allocating this profile type if network bandwidth is a consideration as too many roaming profiles will swamp a network with traffic, especially in a school where pupils and staff logon to a different computer several times a day. These problems can be avoided by redirecting the My Documents and Desktop folders to a network location. Additionally, there is a group policy setting which prevents users creating profiles larger than a predetermined size.

Mandatory Profiles

  • A mandatory profile is a special type of roaming profile. The only difference is that the profile is never copied back to the remote location.
  • If the policy setting 'delete cached copies of roaming profiles' is enabled, then the local copy of the profile will be deleted when the user logs off.
  • A mandatory profile may be shared between many users. It is one way of providing a controlled working environment for users (with the addition of Group Policy settings).