User's Guide to Roaming Profiles

The following guide only applies to users on the MINTS/MEDLAN domain. This does not apply to our users in SLCU or BIOSCI.

What is a roaming profile?

Roaming profiles are a feature of the Windows operating system. They allow users to log into different computers and have a consistent desktop experience. Settings typically saved in a roaming profile will include, toolbar positions and preferences, the desktop background, and settings for applications which the user uses.. One of the major benefits of implementing roaming profiles, is that the user's profile data is saved onto the server, rather than the computer.

When does a roaming profile not work?

  • A roaming profile used in Windows XP, is not compatible with Windows 7. If a user has access to both XP and 7 computers, they need to be aware that their applications settings and preferences will not roam in between these computers as they will have seperate roaming profiles created for them.
  • If a user has a large roaming profile, then it can take exceedingly long times to log on and off a machine. This usually happens when a rogue application saves data to the AppData folder (Dropbox, Spotify etc). Mechanisms are in place to prevent this from happening.

Considerations when reinstalling or upgrading your computer

When upgrading or moving from a Windows XP to Windows 7 computer, users need to realise that their application and desktop environment settings (i.e. their roaming profile) will not appear, as the roaming profile formats are incompatible. CSCS has got the capability to migrate your user profile for you, and keep as much of the roaming profile data as is possible. 

When reinstalling or upgrading your computer, it is likely you'll also be changing versions of the software. For example, moving from EndNote X5 to X7. Some applications store their settings in a way which aren't compatible between application versions. One notable exception to this (generally at least) is Microsoft Office. Upgrading from Office 2003/2007/2010 to 2013, will preserve the settings.