Windows Profiles Overview

Have a rough idea of what Windows user profiles are, but a bit fuzzy on the details?  This article will provide an overview of Windows user profiles, and outline the different types of profiles and their significance.

What is a Windows Profile?

A Windows profile is simply a record of user-related data characterizing a user’s computing environment. This record may include display and application settings, along with network connections. What the user sees on the screen and what the user has access to when they log on is all determined by how the system administrator has the profile configured.

Are there different types of Windows profiles?

Yes, there are three different types of Windows profiles: local, mandatory, and roaming.

Local Profiles: profiles that are saved on a single computer. Users cannot access their profile from any other machine, regardless of whether the machine is attached to the network or not.

Mandatory Profiles: profiles that cannot be saved from one session to the next. A user may utilize any machine that is connected to the network. However, once a user logs off, any setting preferences made to the profile is permanently lost and must be reinstated at every log on. This ensures a profile will remain small and easy to manage, but renders users powerless from customizing their profile to their liking.

Roaming Profiles: do just what the name implies—they move around with you. If you log on to one computer today, and a different computer tomorrow, you're making use of a roaming profile to load your customized user settings. Roaming profiles are saved on the network so when you log on to any networked computer, your personalized desktop is loaded no matter what machine you're on. Users have full freedom of what’s on their profile, which is convenient for them, but can lead to problems such as slow log on times and server crashes.

How do Windows profiles work with VDI?

In a VDI environment, the user's desktop is created as a 'clone' of the master image that is stored on the server. In order to deliver the customized desktop to the user, the clone desktop is combined with the roaming profile and the personalized desktop appears on the client machine.

Tricerat’s Simplify Profiles Finds a Middle Ground

Both mandatory and roaming profiles have good and bad things to offer, both for the sys admin and end user. Tricerat's user profile management solutions combine the best of both profile types into one powerful program. Users can customize and save their settings without endangering the network, and system administrators gain control by having the final approval on the profile specific elements that are saved.