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Am I understanding the Roaming folder correctly (C:\Users\{user}\AppData\Roaming)? When I log out from the domain on my PC, it copies everything into the "domain cloud" so to speak. Then when I log into the domain from a different PC, it downloads everything into the Roaming folder on the new PC?

Am I correct?

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What is the server version? Are you actually on a Microsoft domain? This does not happen by default even if you are on a domain. –  KCotreau Jul 18 '11 at 23:57
    
@KCotreau I am on a Windows Server 2003 R2 domain. Understood about not happening by default. Assuming that the Roaming profiles are turned on. –  AngryHacker Jul 19 '11 at 0:00

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

When you log in, the computer loads the registry, and in this case, the local user's registry (HKCU) which tells your current session of Windows where to look for everything it needs (where the settings and files are located). In the case of roaming profile, it reads from the registry where out on one of the domain's centralized servers the user's documents, settings, and desktop icons are located.

When you log off, any changes in the roaming profile are written back to that centralized location.

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The question refers to the %APPDATA% folder though, and not the HKCU registry hive. –  paradroid Jul 19 '11 at 0:21
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@paradroid They are very inter-related. The HCKU based on Group Policy tells where to look for the any items that are to be roaming, including the information in that folder. Read this link: msmvps.com/blogs/bradley/archive/2009/02/21/… and there is a link to the Microsoft document regarding how this works (It is for Vista, but the same for Windows 7). In particular on page 22 of the Word document, there is a screenshot of the Group Policy, and puts in perspective what can be made roaming, or not. It is not all-or-none. –  KCotreau Jul 19 '11 at 0:29
    
Let me say one more thing to make it clear: Anything you change in those GP setting on page 22 gets written to your user's registry to show it where to point and find it on the centralize location, and initially anything local gets copied over. –  KCotreau Jul 19 '11 at 0:59
    
But does the contents of %APPDATA% get copied to the server, and if so, when? I'm not so sure that it does, or otherwise, it does not seem to be very reliable. –  paradroid Jul 19 '11 at 1:27
    
Yes, %APPDATA% (C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming in Vista/7) is copied to the V2 network profile folder location. –  edusysadmin Jul 19 '11 at 2:17

A roaming profile is basically when an active directory users profiles is stored in a centralized location. The benefit is that they can access there docs and setting from multiple computers. Great for lab and other shared environments. It can be useful but take time and thoroughly plan out the implementation before going forward.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc738596%28WS.10%29.aspx

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