A user profile represents what the user sees when they log into their computer. This includes the desktop wallpaper, the icons such as My Computer, Internet Explorer, Recycle Bin, the Start Menu, and the task bar. Some of these items can be customized by the user (such as the choice of wallpaper) and preserved when the user logs on at a later time.
On a more technical level the user profile represents a collection of folders and files. The User Profile is comprised of a registry hive and a set of profile directories. The registry is a database used to store computer and user specific settings, and portions of the registry can be saved as files, calledh i v e s1. These hives can then be reloaded for use as necessary. User Profiles take advantage of the hive feature to provide roaming profile functionality.
All User Profiles within the LS&A NT domain are configured as \u201croaming profiles\u201d. Roaming profiles are the collection of folders and files comprising the user profile that are automatically copied to a common server\u2014the s-lsa-prof server. Because of their location on a common server, user profiles are available on any LS&A NT domain computer that a user logs into. Hence, the user profile (i.e. the collection of folders and files) travels with the user as they move about logging into different NT4 or Win2K(P) computers.
The folders and files that make up the user profile for most users at LS&A are described in the table below. Some of these folders or files are normally hidden from view. These hidden objects are denoted with an asterisk. The hidden objects, however, can be seen if the \u201cAdmin Friendly Explorer View\u201d has been enabled.
Application-specific data, such as a custom dictionary for a word processing program. Application vendors decide what data to store in this directory. Users or DSAs do not normally work within this directory.
Internet cookies are small signatures that indicate previous visits to a site. Cookies usually make the subsequent visits faster. These files are generally small in size (normally 1K) and do not require management by the DSA.
Desktop icons/shortcuts that display on the desktop. This folder stores all shortcuts created by the user. The shortcuts in this folder can be very useful to the DSA. New shortcuts can be added directly to this folder. They can also be removed from this folder. Shortcut changes in the Desktop folder must be made when the user is not logged into a computer. The DSA should make the changes on the server-based version of the profile only.
Storage point for documents and pictures. Location can be modified to point to a network path. Note: My Documents replaces \u201cPersonal\u201d when the user profile moves to Windows 2000; they both serve the same process.
Network Neighborhood information. Permanent drive mappings are stored here as shortcuts. The DSA can copy the drive mappings stored in this location to other profiles.
Stores shortcuts to the most recently used documents. Can be managed by the DSA to maintain a \u201crecent\u201d listing of the most used documents. The DSA does this by removing files from the server-based profile. The user can trim this down by selecting Start / Settings / Task Bar and Start Menu / Advanced, and click on the box to Clear all recent document pointers. The Recent folder can become unwieldy to work with over time if not cleaned up occasionally.
Represents the settings for NT Explorer, the taskbar, printer settings, control panel, accessories, and help bookmarks. The Ntuser.dat file is mapped to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER portion of the registry when the user logs on.
The Ntuser.dat.LOG file acts as a sort of transaction log file that can serve the purpose of profile recovery. This file is updated each time the user logs off the computer.
Establishes the exclusion list of files not included as part of the Roaming Profile. This list currently includes Temporary Internet Files, History, Temp, and Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
The User Profile registry hive is the NTuser.dat in file form, and is mapped to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER portion of the registry when the user logs on.The NTuser.dat hive maintains the user\u2019s environment preferences when the user is logged on. It stores those settings that maintain network connections, Control Panel configurations unique to the user (such as the desktop color and mouse settings), and application-specific settings. Together, the Ntuser.dat file and the other folders/files make up the user profile that provides the complete set of user profile settings.
As a result of these settings being embedded within the Ntuser.dat file, these settings can only be changed when a user is logged into a computer. The user or DSA would have to make the changes on the cached profile, and log off to preserve them on the server-based version2.
A roaming profile is stored on a network share and can be accessed from any computer. A user who has a roaming profile can log on to any computer for which that profile is valid and access the profile. An NT4 profile is valid for both NT4 and Win2KP. However, NT4 or Win2K profiles cannot be used on Windows 9x computers due to differences in the registry.
A local profile is specific to a computer. A user who has a local profile on a particular computer can gain access to that profile only while logged on to that computer. The local profile will be stored in one of two locations on the computer depending on whether it is an NT4 or Win2K(P) computer.
To determine the exact location of the local profile when logged into an NT4 or Win2K(P) computer, the user can type \u201cset\u201d at a command prompt. The set command will display the environment variables on the computer. The \u201cUserProfile\u201d variable will display the precise location of the local profile.
A mandatory profile is a pre-configured roaming profile that the user cannot permanently change. In most cases, mandatory profiles are assigned to a person or a group of people for whom a common interface and standard configuration is required.
At LS&A, mandatory profiles are generally used for instructional labs. Typically, a shared account is created with a mandatory profile. Students who use these accounts can make desktop modifications while logged into the computer, but the changes are not uploaded or preserved when the user logs off the computer.
Before a user logs into a new Win2K(P) computer for the first time, there are only two user profiles on the newly built computer. These profiles are called \u201cAll Users\u201d and \u201cDefault User\u201d. The screenshot below shows these profiles. Understanding how they are used to create the initial user profile for the user is important for later troubleshooting and management.
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