What is a profile?

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  • A 'user profile' is a collection of files (and registry settings) which are applicable and specific to a user.
  • Any time a user logs on to a Windows NT/2K/XP PC (or server for that matter), that user WILL have a profile for that session, even if it is only a temporary one.

Exactly what is in a user profile?

NTUSER.DAT

This is the file where the HKEY_CURRENT_USER registry hive is stored. Lots of applications use this area to record configuration information which is specific to the user (rather than the machine).

My Documents

This is the default location for storage of user documents. This folder is often 'redirected' to a network location so that when the user of the profile saves their work, it is stored in a central location.

Application Data

Applications can store files here which are specific to the user. This folder is often 'redirected' to a network location.

Desktop

Shortcuts (.lnk and .url files) that appear on the user's desktop. This folder is often 'redirected' to a network location.

Start Menu

Links which are displayed on the Start Menu

Cookies

Internet Explorer cookies.

Favorites

Links which appear in Internet Explorer's favorites list are stored here.

Local Settings

Applications can store data here which is never meant to roam from PC to PC. Temporary (including temporary Internet Explorer) files are stored here.

NetHood

Links to commonly used network paths

PrintHood

Links to printers

Recent

Links to recently used documents

SendTo

Target links for the 'send to' context menu option

Templates

User templates (for Office)

Other Items

There are many applications which add additional content to the above list in additional folders.