Section 8.6: Managing User Data

In addition to the My Documents folder, Windows Server 2003 allows you to create home folders for users to store their personal documents. You can locate all users' home folders on a client computer, or in a shared folder on a file server, or 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.

8.6.1: Using User Profiles

A user profile is used to store the user's desktop environment, application settings, and personal data. User profiles maintain consistency for users in their desktop environments by providing users with the same desktop environment they had the last time they logged on to the computer.

Windows Server 2003 supports four types of user profiles:

• Default User Profile, which serves as the base for all user profiles;

• Local User Profile, which is created the first time that a user logs on at a computer and is specific to the local computer as it is stored on the computer;

• Roaming User Profile; and • Mandatory User Profile. Roaming User Profiles

An administrator can set up roaming user profiles to support users who work at different computers. This profile is stored on a network server so that the profile is available to user regardless of where the user logs on in the domain. When a user logs on, Windows Server 2003 copies the roaming user profile from the network server to the client computer running Windows Server 2003 at which the user logs on and consequently, the user always receives the appropriate desktop settings and connections.

When a user logs on, Windows Server 2003 applies the roaming user profile settings to that computer. 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. This shortens the logon process.

When a user logs off from the network, Windows Server 2003 copies changes that were made to the local copy of the roaming user profile back to the server where it is stored. Mandatory User Profiles

A mandatory profile is similar to a roaming user profile except that it does not save any changes a user made to the profile when the user logs off from the network. It is thus a read-only roaming user profile. Windows Server 2003 allows an administrator to assign one mandatory user profile to multiple users who require the same desktop settings. This means that when the administrator changes one profile, he or she changes the desktop environment for several users.

The Ntuser.dat file, which is a hidden file located in the folder that contains the profile, contains that section of the Windows Server 2003 system settings that applies to the individual user account, and the user environment settings. By renaming the file to the administrator makes the file read-only and thus mandatory.