Windows profiles and folder redirection.

Desktop management applications
Microsoft Windows
SQL Server
I want to understand the best way to centrally control a user?s profile. I need 10 computers to all be logged in at the same time and share a desktop that cannot be changed at the workstation ? only on the server. I implemented folder redirection using GPOs, but when the profile is synced with the server, the desktop that is on the workstation overrides the sever copy. I thought about using roaming profiles, but I think only one computer would be allowed to login with the user at a time. What about a mandatory profile? Can the same username be logged in multiple times using a mandatory profile? Overall, I am looking for a way to make 10 computers log in using the same username and get a desktop (and other settings) from the server. I do not want the workstation to have the ability to edit these settings; I only want the changes to be made on the server. Also, what is the difference between a roaming profile and folder redirection? If I use folder redirection to change the path of the desktop, application data, etc. How is that all that different from a roaming profile? I understand that folder redirection does not include all the folders and files in a profile, but I am unclear when you would use one over the other. Or are they something that should always be used together?

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Probably the simplest way to accomplish your goal is to implement a mandatory profile. You would set this up in the same manor as you would a roaming profile with one exception, your going to rename the NTuser.dat file to manual profiles can be assigned to an individual or by group so all of your workstations will receive the settings. Plus with a manual profile the user cannot make permanent changes to the desktop environment like they can with a roaming profile.

Folder redirection basically points or redirects the mount point of a folder to a network share so that it’s contents are accessible from other workstations on the network. You could use this in conjunction with a roaming or mandatory profile.

Good luck!

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  • Skepticals
    Mr. P: I changed a test user's profile to mandatory, but they can still delete objects off the desktop because the desktop folder is stored elsewhere using folder redirection. Isn't the profile alredy being redirected to the server when I put in a path such as profilestestuser? If so, does that mean I do not need to use folder redirection? All I want is for the profile to be stored on the server and not the workstation. By entering a UNC path into a use's profile setting, does this make it a roaming profile? Because I need to be able to log in more than one computer with the same user. Is folder redirectiong not necessary with my setup because the entire user profile will be redirected to the server?
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  • Petroleumman
    Hello, Here is a link to a Microsoft KB article that will walk you through the steps involved in creating a mandatory profile in an XP environment. Note that once you have completed all the steps per the article, you will need to assign the path to the profile on the users properties => profile tab in AD. In a nut shell when a user logs on to an XP computer it will attempt to load the profile defined by the user's properties but if there is a delay in the process such as a slow network, XP will then look at the local machine for an existing profile for the user. If one is present XP will load that profile instead of the mandatory profile. This may be why your user can still make changes to the desktop environment. Also note that with a manual profile the user can still make changes to their computer environment while logged on, but these changes are not permanent and will only be available during the current session. When the user logs off the changes will be discarded. To prevent a slow network from causing problems with mandatory or roaming profiles, select the 'Always wait for the network at computer startup and logon' setting in GP (Computer Configuration => Administrative Templates => System => Logon). This will prevent XP from overriding your custom profile at logon with a locally stored profile. If you feel folder redirection is causing problems, turn that off until you get your profiles working properly. Then test redirection one folder at a time until you get the desired results. Good luck!
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  • Skepticals
    Mr. P, Thank you for all the info. One last question, Is there a reason that I need to use folder redirection in conjunction with Roaming/Mandatory profiles? Because I thought by adding the path in Active Directory the profile would be redirected to the server anyway. Is this correct? J
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