Using Windows with Roaming User Profiles
Michael A. Covington
Institute for Artificial Intelligence
The University of Georgia
Last revised 2009 February 2
What are Roaming User Profiles?
Does everything travel with the user?
Changing your password
What restrictions apply to Roaming User Profile users?
Do all Windows users have to roam?
Can I get to my files from off campus?
How can I share a file with another user?
Your web site
After you leave the IAI Center
Note: Roaming works essentially the same way in Windows Vista as in Windows XP. If you use both operating systems, then after reading the notes here, you should also read this.
What are Roaming User Profiles?Roaming user profiles enable your files, your desktop, and lots of other custom settings to travel with you to any of our Windows PCs. Thus, you can sit down at any PC that has the software you need, and proceed with your work, without having to carry around disks or copy files manually.
Your roaming user profile consists of:
- Your home directory, which resides on the server. You access it as drive U:.
- Your My Documents folder, which is on drive U:
- Your profile, which is copied to the PC that you log on to, then copied back to the server when you log off. It consists of your desktop; any files or folders on the desktop (except My Documents); and all your personal settings, including desktop wallpaper, arrangement of icons, shortcuts, mailreader configuration, and the like.
Note: Desktop wallpaper (the background picture) roams properly only if it is a .BMP file. If you use a .JPG file (such as the standard files found in C:\WINDOWS\WEB), a temporary .BMP copy will be made and then lost when you log off. The cure is to save the file as a .BMP into My Documents and use that as your background.
Does everything travel with the user?No. Software (other than .exe files in your home directory) does not travel with you. On each PC you can only run the software installed on that machine.
On your desktop and Start Menu you will see both the items in your profile and the items in the "All Users" profile of the computer you are using. That's why the list of available shortcuts can vary from machine to machine.
Logging onIn order to log on to the Windows PCs you need an account.
Logging on to a Windows system can take as long as 60 seconds. This is slower than with UNIX, but once you're logged on, you have the whole CPU to yourself; other users are not sharing it. Thus, you have 10 to 30 times as much CPU power as if you were on a Sun workstation.
Not only are files copied during logon, but many programs are started afresh, including the virus protection. Thus, if someone else disabled virus protection somehow, you are still protected.
Hint: If logging on or off takes a long time, check whether any large files are stored on your desktop. Move them to drive U:.
Remember to log off for two reasons: to copy your profile back to the server, and to keep others from using your account. Allow about 2 minutes for the logoff process.
Changing your passwordTo change your password at any time, log on, then press Ctrl-Alt-Delete and choose "Change Password".
Changing your password every semester is recommended.
What restrictions apply to Roaming User Profile users?First, you can't install software, nor can you make other changes to the machine that affect other users. (You can keep .exe files in your home directory and execute them, but you cannot make changes to the Registry or anything else that affects the whole machine.)
This seems restrictive, but its purpose is to increase reliability. Remember, this is not personal computing - this is networked computing. The computers are for instruction and research, not completely open experimentation. Some non-networked PCs will remain available for experiments.
You can write on drive C: (and, if present, D:) of the PC, but please don't. Any files that you place on drives C and D will not travel with you and will probably be erased by system administrators.
Remember that all files have owners - that is, the system keeps track of who created them.
Do all Windows users have to roam?No. On any PC, we can also create local accounts with whatever privileges are appropriate.
Local accounts will not be provided to students unless there is a compelling academic reason in a particular case.
Normally, if you need local privileges on a PC, we will grant those privileges to your roaming account. That is, you will still log on to your roaming account, and on that PC, you will have special privileges.
Files stored locally on PCs ARE NOT BACKED UP. Only your desktop and U: drive are backed up on removable disks by the system administrators.
Can I get to my files from off campus?Yes. For full instructions click here. (Because this is internal information, you will have to give your IAI user name and password.)
How can I share a file with another user?You do not need to use e-mail to send a file from one AI computer user to another. If the file is large (over 1000 KB), e-mail may not even work.
Basically, to share a file or folder, you just give the other user permission to access it, then tell him where it is.
Here is one example. What we suggest is that you make a folder on your U: drive, put the files in it, and give appropriate permission for other people to read (and, if necessary, modify) the whole folder.
Here's a step-by-step procedure.
On Computer, open drive U:. Create a folder in it with a name such as Shared.
Right-click on this folder and choose Properties, then Security.
Click Edit, then Add and add the name of one or more users. Then highlight that name and check the permissions you want to give (such as Read and Execute).
Finally, tell the other user where the shared folder is. Other users will access it as \\aihv\users\username\foldername where username is your user name and foldername is what you named it.
Your e-mailThe IAI does not provide e-mail accounts. The following information pertains to your University of Georgia UGAMAIL account.
Web mail accessAs you know, your UGa e-mail can be read by going to http://ugamail.uga.edu.
Basic parametersFor any mail reader, the basic parameters are:
- Type of connection: IMAP
- Server (incoming and outgoing): email.uga.edu
- Your address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- User name and password: Same as for your MyID
- More setup information is here.
- When working at home, we recommend that you receive via UGAMAIL but send through your ISP. You can configure the same account in Outlook Express to have different receiving (IMAP) and sending (SMTP) servers.
Important: Go to Control Panel, Internet Options, Connections, LAN Settings, and make sure "Automatically Detect Settings" is checked. This is a setting for your account, not your PC. On accounts created before August 19, 2003, it is likely to be wrong, causing subtle problems with mail sotware.
Outlook ExpressMicrosoft Outlook Express works well with UGAMAIL.
As a roaming user, you should set up Outlook Express as described here, and then do the following:
(1) In Tools, Accounts, email.uga.edu, Properties, IMAP, make sure "Check for new messages in all folders" is not checked.
(2) In the folder tree on the left side of the screen, right-click on your UGamail inbox and choose Properties, Synchronization Settings, Headers Only. (This is optional, to improve performance.)
(3) Create a place for Outlook Express to store your mail. By default, it stores your mail in a non-roaming part of your profile which is simply deleted when you log off. Here is how to store the mail permanently and have it roam with you:
(a) Make a folder on your desktop named Mail.
(b) In Outlook Express, choose Tools, Options, Maintenance, Store Folder, Change.
(c) Navigate to the Mail folder you just created (within Desktop) and choose it.
(d) Immediately close Outlook Express and log out. Log back in again and your mail will be placed in that folder.
If you have a lot of mail, you may want to make a folder called U:\Mail on your U: drive and keep it there. Outlook Express will not let you move the mail folder to a drive other than C:. However, you can achieve this by editing the Registry. Carefully run Regedit and navigate to:
(yes, even though you're running version 6.0). Change the value of StoreRoot to U:\Mail.
Microsoft OutlookMicrosoft Outlook is distinctly harder to use, but also more powerful. Set it up as described here.
You will notice that Outlook forgets your passwords and other parameters every time you log out. That may not be a bad thing. However, if you want Outlook to remember your settings, what you'll need to do is move the file "Outlook.pst" from its present location, deep within a non-roaming part of your profile, to a folder on your U: drive.
(1) Click here to execute a script that will create a folder called U:\Mail and move your Outlook.pst file into it.
(2) Open Outlook, which will complain that Outlook.pst cannot be found.
(3) Immediately navigate to U:\Mail and show Outlook where the file is.
The content of your mail will still be downloaded as needed into a non-roaming part of your profile. But the basic settings for Outlook, including passwords, will be remembered from session to session.
By default, Outlook does not store outgoing messages in the Sent Items folder on the server. But you can make it do so. Use Tools, Rules Wizard, and start with a blank rule. Tell Outlook that every time you send the message, it should be copied into Sent Items on the email server (note: not your local Sent Items folder; be sure to navigate to it carefully).
Your web site
We no longer provide web pages for individuals. The University does, at myweb.uga.edu.
After you leave the IAI
We do not provide computer accounts for people no longer associated with the Institute for AI.
We do not provide e-mail accounts, so we can't do anything about e-mail forwarding. Check with the EITS helpdesk to make plans for ending your UGAMAIL account.