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Roaming vs. Local Profiles

What are the main differences of roaming and local profiles?

Windows roaming and local profiles are similar in that they both store Windows user settings and data.  A local profile is one that is stored directly on the computer.  The main advantage to using a local profile is that the profile is accessible even when the computer is disconnected from the network.  A major drawback of a local profile is that the user profile data is not being automatically backed up by the server.  Since most users rarely back up their computers, if a hard drive fails, any data that is stored within local profiles on that machine would be lost.

Roaming profiles are stored on a server and can be accessed by logging into any computer on the network.  In a roaming profile, when a user logs onto the network, his/her profile is copied from the server to the user’s desktop.  When the user logs off of their computer, the profile (including any changes that the user might have made) is copied back to the server.  A major drawback of roaming profiles is that they can slow down the network.  Windows user profiles often become very large as the user profile data continues to grow.  If you have a large roaming profile, the login and logoff times may take a significant amount of time.

The solution to this problem is to use folder redirection with roaming profiles.  Folder redirection allows specific folders (such as the Desktop and Documents folder) to be permanently stored on the server.  Doing so eliminates the need for the redirected folder to be copied as a part of the logon and logoff processes.

In summary, for a hassle free network experience one should choose the default local profile.  However, if you need roaming profiles enabled, Concise can assist you with the configuration and deployment of roaming profiles utilizing folder redirection so you can have the best of both worlds!

by:  Daniel Lin