Windows user profiles are important in the eyes of users: a fact often overlooked by IT staff. They make up what a regular user considers to be "the computer" - the remembered layout of shortcuts, documents, saved passwords and application settings. While saving documents on the network is common-place, saving the user profile is less so, mostly because IT departments consider them replaceable.
Keeping all this information in a profile is very bad form, but that doesn't change the fact that -- especially in small businesses - everyone does it.
While a good idea in theory, roaming profiles are prone to error and hard to apply to laptop users. They also add large waits to startup and shutdown to the untrained user who saves everything to their desktop.
Keep your users happy. Keep their profiles!
While working for IT Partners, there were a number of reasons we found as to why we would need to reassign a Windows user profile to another user:
- moving from a local account to a domain account
- moving from a poorly implemented DC to a freshly implemented DC
- users changing roles in a company
I developed a cool utility for Windows sysadmins. It lets you see the user profiles that are available on your system, and reassign them to other users. It also lets you see profiles for users that don't exist any more (and tell all those "Account Unknown" users apart), so you can free space by deleting them.
ProfileTool was written in part while working for IT Partners, so thanks to Andrew Johnson for letting me release it as open-source software.
Go to the ProfileTool webpage and learn more. This really useful utility is 100% free and open source, but it never seemed to catch on among the people that I figured would find it really useful.