A user’s desktop and application experience is typically controlled by the settings data that is stored in the user’s profile.
A user profile describes the desktop computing configuration for a specific user. This includes the user’s environment and preference settings. A user profile is a group of settings and files that define the environment that the system loads when a user logs on. It includes all user-specific configuration settings, such as program items, screen colors, network connections, printer connections, mouse settings, and window size and position. Profiles are distinct from user policies, and every user has a profile even if your organization doesn't use Group Policy.
A user profile consists of the following:
A registry hive. The registry is a database that is used to store computer- and user-specific settings. Parts of the registry can be saved as files that are called "hives." These hives can be reloaded for use as necessary. User profiles take advantage of hives to provide roaming profile functionality. The user profile registry hive *is the NTuser.dat in file form* and is mapped to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER part of the registry when the user logs on. The NTuser.dat hive maintains the user’s environment preferences when the user is logged on. It stores settings that maintain network connections, Control Panel configurations unique to the user (such as the desktop color and mouse), and application-specific settings. *The majority of the settings that are stored in the registry are opaque to user profiles settings are owned and maintained by individual applications and OS components.*
A set of profile folders that are stored in the file system. User profile files are stored in the file system in the Profiles directory, in one folder for each user. Each user profile folder is a container that applications and other OS components to populate with subfolders and per-user data such as shortcut links, desktop icons, startup applications, documents, configuration files, and so on. Windows Explorer uses the user profile folders extensively for special folders such as the user’s desktop, start menu, and My Documents folder.
Together, these two components record user-configurable settings that can migrate from computer to computer.
Before Microsoft User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) can apply or save settings data to the user profile, the following conditions must be met:
The user profile is present on the computer.
The user’s registry hive (NTuser.dat) is mapped to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER part of the registry.
The user’s %userprofile% environment variable is updated with the value of the local profile folder.
UE-V is compatible with local and mandatory user profile types. A local user profile is stored on the computer’s local hard disk and will always be loaded and applied before UE-V starts executing. The same is true for a mandatory user profile, except that it will be copied from a server share before it is applied on the computer. After the local or mandatory user profile is applied to the computer, UE-V applies application and desktop setting data to the user profile. Therefore, the user’s desktop and application environment should always be consistent with the last saved UE-V settings state. UE-V will save and reapply settings data changes that are made by the user even if a mandatory user profile is configured for the user.
When you create a mandatory profile, we recommend that UE-V not be installed on the computer on which the profile is being created and from which the profile will be copied to the server.
We do not recommend that UE-V be used with a roaming user profile (RUP) because both UE-V and RUP are used to roam user settings data, and possible conflicts or unexpected behavior might occur.