How Windows Chooses Between Roaming and Local Profiles

This article was previously published under Q146192
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This article explains the following topics:
  • How Windows determines if the locally cached profile is more recent than the roaming profile
  • How modifications to the roaming profiles can be propagated to the locally cached profiles
More information
When a user with a roaming profile logs on to a computer running Windows, the system checks whether the cached locally profile is more recentthan the roaming profile. In that case, the system doesn't need to reloadthe profile from the central server. This check is based only on the "lastwrite time" of the user's registry hive Ntuser.dat.

If a network administrator makes any modifications (for example, programgroups or shortcuts) to a roaming profile, these changes may be lost.

The following is an example where these changes will be lost:
  1. UserA logs on to a workstation.
  2. UserA logs off and both profiles (roaming and locally cached) are updated.
  3. The network administrator adds a new shortcut on the roaming profile.
  4. UserA logs on to a workstation. The locally cached profile is used and the modification is lost.
After applying the modifications to the roaming profile, modify the lastwrite time of Ntuser.dat to reflect the date of the change on the profile.You can use the Touch utility from the Windows Resource Kit to do this.You should also be sure that the user is not currently logged on thenetwork when you make the changes.

Article ID: 146192 - Last Review: 10/26/2013 01:33:00 - Revision: 2.0

  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
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