Roaming User Profiles

This page explains Roaming User Profiles. It contains some technical details for advanced users and IT support staff. Please see Your data for more general information.

What is a user profile?

Your user profile stores your personal Windows and software settings.

Some of the things that are stored in your profile include:

  • Settings for most applications
  • Wallpaper
  • Screen saver
  • Display properties – colours, fonts and sizes
  • A personalised Taskbar
  • Desktop Toolbars

A few programs also default to saving data in a location called "Roaming Application Data" (AppData\Roaming), which is part of your profile. This is not typically a location that you, as the user, will specify.

Why use Roaming Profiles?

A Roaming Profile allows your Windows and software settings to follow you around from computer to computer. It is Microsoft's recommended way of handling user settings.

How do Roaming Profiles work?

Your profile is stored both on the local hard disk and on a central server.

On the hard disk, your profile lives here:

(replace username with your UOB username)

When you log on to a managed PC for the first time, a new folder is created both locally and on a filestore. Any changes you make while logged in are stored in the local copy of your profile. At log off your profile is copied to the filestore.

The next time you log on to any managed PC, your profile on the filestore is read and synchronised with any local copy.

Where are Roaming Profiles applied?

Roaming Profiles are applied to all managed desktops at the University.

  1. Open Access PCs (lecture theatres, seminar rooms, students spaces etc.) have Roaming Profiles enabled. This lets settings to follow you from computer to computer. It also speeds up login, as Windows doesn't have to spend time creating a new profile for you on every new PC you use. The Roaming Profile quota on Open Access PCs is 500 MB.
  2. Regular Systems desktop PCs (typically staff and PhD systems) have Roaming Profiles enabled. They are configured to use a different profile store. This prevents inappropriate settings, such as personal images used as wallpaper, from roaming to public areas. The Roaming Profile quota on Regular Systems is 2 GB.

Have I got a Roaming Profile?

  1. Go to your Service Desk personal details page.
  2. If you see Has Open Access Roaming Profile then you have a Roaming Profile for use on Open Access PCs
  3. If you see Has Regular Roaming Profile then you have a Roaming Profile for use on all other PCs

Does this computer have Roaming Profiles enabled?

If your computer displays this icon in the System Tray (lower right) then your computer has Roaming Profiles enabled.

You can hover over this icon for a usage message and double click for detailed information as shown below.

(If this screen is endlessly refreshing, close any open programs, particularly Chrome.)

Why is there a profile quota?

The size of a profile must be limited because your Roaming Profile is synchronised each time you log on and off and a large profile can cause significant delays. You are advised to keep your profile smaller than 500MB. You will be warned when you go over quota and optionally shown a list of files (largest first) to aid in reducing the profile size.

Which folders are not part of my Roaming Profile?

Files in MyFiles (drive O), including your Documents and Desktop folders, are not part of your Roaming Profile and do not count towards the quota.

Your Local Documents and Chrome Local Downloads folders are also excluded.

Your "Roaming Application Data" folder (AppData\Roaming) is part of your Roaming Profile; but AppData\Local and AppData\LocalLow are not, and do not count towards the quota.

Several additional folders are excluded from the Roaming Profile sync for performance reasons (these folders may or may not exist in your profile, but the list is designed to cover all users):

click to expand
Folders Reason for exclusion
  • Desktop
  • Documents
Each of these folders is "redirected" to MyFiles and should never exist in the user's local profile. Should this redirection fail and these folders are present, these exclusions prevent them from accidentally syncing to an inappropriate filestore.
  • Chrome Local Downloads
  • Downloads
  • Local Documents
  • Saved Games
These folders are intended to remain local and are not backed up or copied anywhere. This allows you to make full use of your hard disk, if you wish. See Application performance.
  • SkyDrive
  • OneDrive
  • OneDrive for Business
  • OneDrive for Business Archives
  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Microsoft Office 15
  • VirtualBox
  • VirtualBox VMs
  • AppData\LocalGoogle
  • AppData\Roaming\ESRI\Local Caches
  • AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird
  • AppData\Roaming\Google\Chrome *
  • AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPhone Software Updates
  • AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPad Software Updates
  • AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync
  • AppData\Roaming\Zotero
  • AppData\Roaming\Juniper Networks
  • AppData\Roaming\SSH\temp
  • AppData\Roaming\Meerkat
  • AppData\Roaming\Turning Technologies\TurningPoint
  • AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Common\Media Cache Files
  • AppData\Roaming\Turning Technologies\TurningPoint
  • AppData\Roaming\dropbox
  • AppData\Roaming\Downloaded Installations
  • AppData\Roaming\Spotify

* Applies to open access PCs only

Folders for applications that adversely affect logon/logoff performance due to the size of files (Dropbox etc.) or the number of non-essential temporary files they create.

What can cause large profiles?

Profiles generally grow in size over time. The most common causes for going over quota are installation of large numbers of Chrome extensions or other data stored there which would have been better placed in MyFiles (O:). Another common cause is programs that default to the user profile for their installation. Ideally these would be installed elsewhere.

What can I do if I go over quota?

Windows will notify you if you are over quota with the message below and accompanying warning icon (red circle with white cross) in the bottom right corner of the screen:

Double click the icon to display a small window which lists all the files in your profile in descending size order:

You should remove unnecessary Chrome extensions. You can do that by entering chrome://extensions/ in the address bar and then clicking the small 'rubbish bin' image next to each extension. You should also move any folders / files that you’ve intentionally added, starting with the largest, to MyFiles (O:) or Local Documents. Note that when you add or delete items from the local copy of your profile, changes are not reflected on the server until the next time you log off and your local profile is uploaded to the server.

Once your profile size has reduced below the quota the warning message and icon will be replaced with the normal Roaming Profiles icon.

What else should I know about roaming settings?

If you are logged on to more than one machine at a time, both machines will update your Roaming Profile when you log off. This means that the last machine you log off from will write its changes last and that will be the profile you see on your next logon. If you have icons or shortcuts on your desktop or in your start menu that point to files or other programs on the local machine, those items will not function when you're logged on to some other machine, unless those files or programs exist.

What is folder redirection?

User profiles normally contain folders such as Desktop and Documents. By redirecting these onto a filestore the data can be accessed from all Managed Systems and is backed up. It also means that the user profile is kept as small as possible to keep logon and logoff quick. Laptops keep an offline copy of all redirected data for when the UOB network is not available.

See the Your data page for more on folder redirection.