Roaming Profiles & Folder Redirections: How They Work and Why They Lag

Suggested Optimizations and Performance Enhancers

  1. Keep your Desktop clean. (Less than 500MB)
  2. Minimize the size of cache\temporary storage.
  3. If you use DropBox, make sure it's storage folder is on the harddrive and not in a redirected or synced folder.
  4. Be aware of programs that install to appdata and try for an alternative destination. (i.e. DropBox)
  5. Empty your Downloads folder before logging off of any machine.
  6. If possible, log out of every machine you are logged into before the end of each day.
  7. Reboot your machine, at a minimum, weekly.

Windows 7 Roaming Profile Information

A roaming profile allows a users desktop and applications settings to follow them no matter what domain member Windows workstation they log into. A domain users roaming profile is located under /sysvol/windows/profiles/<username>.V2 or \\\profiles\<username>.V2. Though, not everything in the local user profile, c:\Users\<username>, is stored in the roaming profile. As a result of this information being synced with the copy saved on the server, the size of a user's profile is directly proportional to a users log in and log out times.

The following folders are excluded by default from the roaming profile sync on Windows 7:

  • $Recycle.Bin
  • AppData\Local
  • AppData\LocalLow

More folders can be excluded from being synced by adding a registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\ExcludeProfileDirs [REG_SZ]
The limitation is that only folders can be added, not individual files, for exclusion.

The following folders and files are synced during log on and off:

  • Local profile: c:\Users\<username> <--> Roaming profile: \\\profiles\<username>.V2
  • c:\Users\<username>\ntuser.ini <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\ntusers.ini
  • c:\Users\<username>\NTUSER.DAT <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\NTUSEr.DAT- User registry
  • c:\Users\<username>\ntuser.pol <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\ntuser.pol - User Group policy
  • c:\Users\<username>\Documents <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\Documents - User document folder
  • c:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\AppData\Roaming - Application settings
  • c:\Users\<username>\Contacts <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\Contacts - User Outlook contacts
  • c:\Users\<username>\Favorites <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\Favorites - User Internet Explorer Bookmarks
  • c:\Users\<username>\Links <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\Links - User Internet Explorer links
  • c:\Users\<username>\Saved Games --> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\Saved Games - User games setting
  • c:\Users\<username>\Searches <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\Searches - User Windows search
  • c:\Users\<username>\Music <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\Music - User saved music files
  • c:\Users\<username>\Pictures <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\Pictures - User saved pic files
  • c:\Users\<username>\Videos <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\Videos- User saved video files
  • c:\Users\<username>\Desktop <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\Desktop - User desktop icons
  • c:\Users\<username>\Downloads <--> \\\profiles\>username>.V2\Downloads - Files downloaded from the web

The following folder redirections happen to all Windows users during log on:

  • Personal -> \\\dfs\home\%username%\My Documents
  • My Videos -> \\\dfs\home\%username%\My Documents\My Videos
  • My Pictures -> \\\dfs\home\%username%\My Documents\My Pictures
  • My Music -> \\\dfs\home\%username%\My Documents\My Music
  • Desktop -> \\\dfs\home\%username%\WinData\Desktop
  • AppData -> \\\appdata\%username%

With folder redirection, the AppData and Desktop changes are no longer synced during log on or log off. This makes Windows log on and log off a little faster. However, if the cifs servers have problems, then the Windows client might malfunction because Windows can't access its desktop. Also, software applications that store their settings in AppData will hang.