roaming user profile

Definition of roaming user profile in The Network Encyclopedia.

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What is Roaming User Profile?

A Microsoft Windows NT or Windows 2000 user profile that is stored on a network server so that the user can access personal desktop settings from any machine on the network.

Roaming user profiles are generally created for users by the system administrator. A roaming profile that cannot be modified by the user is called a mandatory user profile.

If the server on which the profile is stored is unavailable when the user logs on to the network, the locally cached copy of the profile stored on his or her workstation will be used instead.

How It Works

There is no default location for roaming profiles on a Windows NT–based or Windows 2000–based network. They can be stored either on domain controllers or on member servers. To create a network share for users’ roaming profiles, create and share a folder called Profiles on one of the servers. Then proceed as follows:

  • In Windows NT, open User Manager for Domains, open the property sheet for the user, and click the Profiles button. Then specify the profile path as follows: \\SERVER_NAME\Profiles\%username%. This creates a subfolder within the Profiles share with the name of the user and for which the user has full control permission. When the user logs on to and logs off of a workstation for the first time, the user’s local profile is copied to his or her personal profile folder.
  • In Windows 2000, open Active Directory Users and Computers, open the property sheet for the user, and select the Profile tab. Then follow the procedure described for Windows NT.

Windows 95 and Windows 98 also support roaming user profiles, but Windows NT user profiles are not compatible with Windows 95 and Windows 98 user profiles. If a user has a Windows NT roaming profile configured, that user’s desktop settings are available from computers running Windows NT Workstation but not from machines running Windows 95 and Windows 98.

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