What is a Roaming Profile?

At Bren, we use roaming profiles on the Windows desktop computers.  This allows you to have the same experience (desktop, icons) on the different computers that you logon to.  There can be some problems when the Profile gets too big.  Following are a list of Question/Answers on roaming profiles. 


Q: Why does it take a long time for me to login and logout of the computers at the Bren School?
A: Your account at the Bren School uses a "Roaming Profile." This profile stores things like your email settings, shortcuts and/or files on your desktop, files cached by MS Internet Explorer, custom screen backgrounds that you use, some application settings, the location of your network home directory, and so forth. When you login to a machine at the Bren School your profile is downloaded from the server to the machine at which you are sitting. When you logoff your profile (along with any changes) is uploaded to the server. So, using large background images, storing files on your desktop (including the "My Documents" folder), and your internet cached files can result in a very large profile which takes a long time to download or upload when you are logging on or off of computers in the lab.

Q: What is the difference between my profile and my H drive?
A: Your profile should only contain pointers to data, whereas your H drive should actually contain all of your data. Profiles are stored on our main file server under \\nintu\Profiles, whereas data is stored under a folder specific to your group under \\nintu such as co2002 or faculty.

Q: Why do I want a small roaming profile?
A: The reason that you want to keep your profile within the recommended size parameters is multifold. For one, a smaller profile makes for less time logging on and off a machine. Each time you log on to a machine, the machine downloads your profile from Nintu, and each time you log off, it uploads your profile, and any changes you have made to it. This is another reason you want to keep your profile small: a small profile will cause less network traffic while it is downloading or uploading. There is also a finite amount of space on our profile server. If it becomes gorged on too many large profiles, you will not be able to upload your profile, and will lose whatever changes you made to it. For these reasons, it is preferable to have a small profile.


Q: What is considered a "reasonable" size for my roaming profile?
A: Your roaming profile should generally be between 1 and 5 Megabytes (MB). You can check the size of your roaming profile by doing the following: Start Windows Explorer by right-clicking on the "Start" button and select "Explore". This will start the explorer in your local profile directory. Right-click on the folder that matches username, and select "Properties" (e.g. if my name is George Smith, and my username is gsmith, then I would right-click on the folder called gsmith). The "Size" value will tell you how large this folder is (note that it may take a while to "count" all of the files if your profile is large).


Q: What can I do to reduce the size of my roaming profile so that my login/logout time doesn't take as long?
A: There are a number of steps that you can take to help reduce your profile:

Make sure that your Internet Explorer "cached file" settings are set to only store 1MB of files. To do this, start MS Internet Explorer, select "Internet Options" from the "Tools" menu. Press the "Settings" button on the "General" tab in the "Temporary Internet files" box. Set the "Amount of disk space to use" in the "Temporary Internet files folder" to one (1) MB. Press OK.

Set the number of days of "History" in Internet Explorer. To do this, start MS Internet Explorer, select "Internet Options" from the "Tools" menu. Change the "Days to keep pages in history" to 1 day. Also press the "Clear History" button.

Don't use custom screen backgrounds. You can remove your custom screen background by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting "Properties..." Then select the "Background" tab and select "(None)" in both the "Pattern" box, and the "Wallpaper" box. Then press OK.

Despite the settings that you have made above, Windows will often store more files that you have asked it to. Another thing that you can do periodically is "clear out" your history and cached internet files manually. To do this, you need to: Start Windows Explorer by right-clicking on the "Start" button and select "Explore". This will start the explorer in your local profile directory. Select "Folder Options" from the "Tools" menu. Select "Show Hidden Files and Folders" on the "View" tab, and deselect the "Hide file extensions for known file types." Press OK. Click on the "+" next to "Local Settings" in your profile folder, click on the "+" next to "Temporary Internet Files" and then click on the "Content.IE5" folder. Delete all sub-folders of the Content.IE5 folder by selecting the folder in the left-hand pane and pressing the delete key (answer "yes" and "yes to all" to the dialog boxes that appear). NOTE: you should change the "Show Hidden Files and Folders" and "Hide file extensions for known file types" in Windows Explorer back to their original settings when you are done with this clean-up process.

Check to make sure you aren't storing large files on your desktop or in your profile. You should be storing all of your files in your network home directory (the "H:\username" network disk). It's OK to have "shortcuts" to files stored in your H: drive on your desktop, but you shouldn't have the actual files stored on your desktop. To check for files in the "Desktop" and/or "Personal" folders of your profile. (Start Windows Explorer as in step 4 above).

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