user profile

Definition of user profile in The Network Encyclopedia.

What is User Profile?

User Profile in Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, and Windows 2000, is an user-definable information about a user’s work environment, including desktop settings, network connections, printer connections, and Start menu items.

In Windows NT, when a user logs on to a workstation, his or her profile is saved locally in a personal subfolder of the %SystemRoot%\profiles folder. You can also store user profiles on a network share to allow users to access their work environment from any workstation.

How User Profile Works

A user’s profile is stored in a folder named after the username and consists of a registry hive and a series of subfolders whose functions are listed in the following table. If additional software is installed on the computer (such as Microsoft Internet Explorer), additional subfolders might exist within the user’s profile folder.


In Windows 95 and Windows 98, ntuser.dat and ntuser.dat.log are replaced by user.dat and user.da0, which make Windows 95 and Windows 98 user profiles incompatible with Windows NT and Windows 2000 user profiles.

User Profile Subfolders and Registry Hives

Subfolder or hive Contents
Application Data folder
Vendors’ application-specific data
Desktop folder
Files and shortcuts on the Desktop
Favorites folder
Favorite locations
NetHood folder
Shortcuts to Network Neighborhood items
Personal folder
Users’ personal documents
PrintHood folder
Shortcuts to Printer Folder items
Recent folder
Shortcuts to recently opened documents
SendTo folder
Shortcuts for the SendTo menu
Start Menu folder
Start menu shortcuts
Templates folder
Shortcuts to templates
Copy of the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive
Transaction log for error recovery