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User profiles maintain consistency for users in their desktop environments by providing each user with the same desktop environment as the last time that he or she logged on to the computer. This chapter introduces user profiles and explains the differences between local user profiles, roaming user profiles, mandatory user profiles, and temporary user profiles. It also discusses the use of home folders.
Understanding User Profiles
A user profile is a collection of folders and data that stores the user's current desktop environment, application settings, and personal data. A user profile also contains all of the network connections that are established when a user logs on to a computer, such as Start menu items and mapped drives to network servers. On computers running Windows Server 2003, user profiles automatically create and maintain the desktop settings for each user's work environment on the local computer. Settings Saved in a User Profile A user profile contains configuration preferences and options for each user - a snapshot of a user's desktop environment. Following are a few settings contained in a user profile: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • All user-definable settings for Windows Explorer (Windows Explorer). User-stored documents (My Documents). User-stored picture items (My Pictures). Shortcuts to favorite locations on the Internet (Favorites). Any user-created mapped network drives (Mapped network drive). Links to other computers on the network (My Network Places) Items stored on the Desktop and shortcut elements (Desktop contents) All user-definable computer screen colors and display text settings (Screen colors and fonts). Application data and user-defined configuration settings (Application data and registry hive) Network printer connections (Printer settings). All user-defined settings made in Control Panel (Control Panel). All user-specific program settings affecting the user's Windows environment, including Calculator, Clock, Notepad, and Paint (Accessories). Per-user program settings for programs written specifically for Windows Server 2003 and designed to track program settings (Windows Server 2003 family-based programs). Any bookmarks placed in the Windows Server 2003 family Help system (Online user education bookmarks).
Contents of a User Profile Folder Unless you have upgraded to Windows Server 2003 from Windows NT 4, local user profiles are stored in the C:\Documents and Settings folder, where C is the name of your system drive. If you have upgraded to Windows Server 2003 from Windows NT 4, local user profiles are stored in the %Systemroot%\Profiles folder. Roaming user profiles are stored in a shared folder on the server.
Following is a sample of the folders contained in a user profile folder: Table 5-1: Sample Folders Contained in a User Profile Folder Item Contents Program-specific datafor example, a custom dictionary. Program vendors decide what data to store in the user profile folder. User information and preferences. Desktop items, including files, shortcuts, and folders. Shortcuts to favorite locations on the Internet. Application data, History, and Temporary files. User documents and subfolders. Shortcuts to the most recently used documents and accessed folders. Shortcuts to My Network Places items. Shortcuts to printer folder items. Shortcuts to document-handling utilities. Shortcuts to program items. User template items.
Application data folder[*]
Cookies folder Desktop folder Favorites folder Local Settings folder[*] My Documents folder My Recent Documents folder[*] NetHood folder[*] PrintHood folder[*] SendTo folder[*] Start Menu folder Templates folder[*]
Item is hidden
Using the My Documents folder centralizes all user settings and personal documents into a single folder that is part of the user profile. Windows Server 2003 automatically sets up the My Documents folder, and it is the default location for storing users' data for Microsoft applications. Home folders, covered later in this lesson, can also contain files and programs for a user.
There are four types of user profiles: • Local User Profile • Roaming User Profile • Mandatory User Profile • Temporary User Profile Local User Profiles A local user profile is based at the local computer and is available at only the local computer. When a user logs on to the client computer running Windows Server 2003, he or she always receives his or her individual desktop settings and connections, regardless of how many users share the same client computer. Windows Server 2003 automatically creates a local user profile the first time that a user logs on to a workstation or server computer. The local user profile is stored in the C:\Documents and Settings\User_logon_name folder on the computer, where C is the name of your system drive and User_logon_name is the name the user types when logging on to the system. A user changes his or her local user profile by changing desktop settings. For example, a user might make a new network connection or add a file to My Documents. Then, when a user logs off, Windows Server 2003 incorporates the changes into the user profile stored on the computer. The next time the user logs on to the local computer, the new network connection and the file are present. Roaming User Profiles To support users who work at multiple computers, you can set up roaming user profiles. A roaming user profile is based at the server and is downloaded to the local computer every time a user logs on. In contrast to a local user profile, which resides on only one client computer, a roaming user profile is available at any workstation or server computer on the network. Changes made to a user's roaming user profile are updated locally and on the server when the user logs off. This profile is created by a system administrator and is stored in a shared folder on a server. The first time that a user logs on at a computer, Windows Server 2003 copies all documents to the local computer. Thereafter, when the user logs on to the computer, Windows Server 2003 compares the locally stored user profile files and the roaming user profile files. It copies only the files that have changed since the last time the user logged on at the computer, which makes the logon process shorter. Mandatory User Profiles To specify a profile for individuals or an entire group of users, you can set up mandatory user profiles. A mandatory user profile is a read-only roaming profile, based at the server and downloaded to the local computer every time a user logs on. It is available at any workstation or server computer on the network. Users can modify the desktop settings of the computer while they are logged on, but none of these changes are saved when they log off. The next time that the user logs on, the profile is the same as the last time that he or she logged on. Only system administrators can make changes to mandatory user profiles. You can assign one mandatory profile to multiple users who require the same desktop settings. If you need to change the desktop environment for this set of users, you can do so by changing only one profile.
Temporary User Profiles A temporary user profile is issued any time an error condition prevents a user's profile from being loaded. Temporary profiles are deleted at the end of each session. Changes made to a user's desktop settings and files are lost when the user logs off. Note: We will only see how to create Roaming User Profiles.
Creating User Profiles
You create local user profiles simply by logging on. To create roaming user profiles, you assign a profile to a user account. To create mandatory user profiles, you must create a profile template, define a profile template storage location, define a profile, assign a profile to a user account, and configure the profile as mandatory. Temporary user profiles are created automatically by the system if there is a problem and therefore cannot be created by an administrator. Creating Roaming User Profiles Create roaming user profiles on a file server that you frequently back up, so that you have copies of the latest roaming user profiles. The copying of roaming user profiles between the server and client computers can use a lot of system resources, such as bandwidth and computer processing. To create a roaming user profile, complete the following steps: 1. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users And Computers. 2. Expand the appropriate domain, and then click the appropriate OU. 3. In the details pane, right-click the user account for which you want to create a roaming user profile, and then click Properties. 4. In the Properties dialog box for the user, click the Profile tab. 5. In the Profile tab, in the Profile Path box, type the path to the folder in which you want to store the user profile, using the format \\Server_name\Shared_folder_name\%Username%. Click OK.
A home folder is an additional folder that you can provide for users to store personal documents, and for older applications, it is sometimes the default folder for saving documents. You can store a home folder on a client computer or in a shared folder on a file server. Because a home folder is not part of a roaming user profile, its size does not affect network traffic during the logon process. You can locate all users' home folders in a central location on a network server. Storing all home folders on a file server provides the following advantages: • Users can gain access to their home folders from any client computer on the network. • The backing up and administration of user documents is centralized. • The home folders are accessible from a client computer running any Microsoft operating system. You can further enhance the home folder feature by redirecting the user's My Documents pointer to the location of his or her home folder.
Creating Home Folders on a Server
To successfully complete the tasks for creating home folders, you must have permission to administer the object in which the user accounts reside. To create home folders on a server, complete the following steps: 1. On a server, create a folder to store all home folders on a network server in the C drive, where C is the name of your system drive. The home folder for each user will reside in this shared folder. Ensure that the folder can be easily identified as the folder containing the home folders. 2. Share the folder you created in step 1 and give the Administrators group Change or Full Control permissions. 3. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users And Computers. 4. Expand the appropriate domain, and then click the appropriate OU. 5. In the details pane, double-click the user account(s) to which you want to assign the home folder. 6. In the Properties dialog box for a user account, click the Profile tab. 7. In the Profile tab, click Connect in order to connect to the home folder on the server, and specify a drive letter to use to connect. In the To box, specify a Uniform Naming Convention (UNC) name, for example, \\Server_name\Shared_folder_name\User_logon_name. You can use the %Username% variable as the user's logon name to automatically name and create each user's home folder the same as the user logon name. Click OK.