Windows User Profile Considerations
User profiles if left unchecked can wreak havoc on an otherwise smoothly performing system causing disk space to quickly disappear as temporary Internet files, non-shortcut objects appear on the desktop and Outlook temporary files grow out of control. This can have a major impact in a terminal server environment with a large number of users sharing resources on the server. Fortunately a few simple checks can keep these in line.
1. The first item to consider is roaming profiles so a user profile is stored on a server and copied to the target server upon login and copied back upon logoff. Remember though – if profiles become too large they can take time to copy back and forth between servers – and if the servers are operating via a WAN connection the slow speed can become dramatic.
Microsoft have a number of recommendations on their Technet site in their article: Group Policy Recommendations for Roaming User Profiles
2. The second item is to enable policy limits in Group Policy. This limits the size of user profiles and provides a useful warning mechanism for users together with adding an icon in the task bar so users can become familiar with their profiles.
To access this area simply navigate the Group Policy Object Editor to User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> System -> User Profiles then to the Limit Profile Size section.
Microsoft have a short overview of the Limit profile size option on their MSDN web site article: Limit profile size and clicking on the Explain tab in the policy editor gives an overview of each of the options.
3. Some other considerations beneath the Documents and Settings folder that can affect performance include:
This stores temporary Internet files and is organised into randomly names sub folders. If left unchecked this can become huge as it stores html pages, flash animations, java scripts and others.
- Non Shortcuts on Desktop
To organise the desktop it is possible to place shortcuts to files directly onto the desktop (which take up very little space) however it is also possible to drop the files onto the desktop (which can be large and may get missed in the backup run!). There are typically Word, Excel or PowerPoint files but could also include applications.
- Temporary Outlook Files OLK
When a user opens an attachment in Outlook then often the attachment is temporarily stored in a sub folder of the hidden Application Data under a folder starting with OLK. This can easily become crowded and may cause some users confusion if they update the attachment and don’t save it in the proper folder.
- User.dmp files – Some times problems occur and user dump files are generated. These can be large files and need to be dealt with.
Other sites that talk about Windows User Profiles include:
- In Windows, what is a user profile, and how do I copy one user profile to another?
- Windows Profile How Do I?’s
- How to check user profiles on a Windows XP-based computer
- Roaming Profiles
- Restrict users to save on desktop using Group policy
- Customize the Default User Profile in Windows XP