How can I reduce the size of my roaming profile?
You can check the size of your roaming profile by following these instructions. If your roaming profile is larger than 1GB, we strongly recommend that you reduce your profile size, as logging in to and out of your computer will take a long time.
Where to save data?
In general, you should save any data directly to a fileserver rather than to your local hard disk. If your research group does not currently have a fileserver, the Computer Officers are happy to supply groups with 100GB of free storage space. In particular, though, you should not save files directly to
c:\users (Windows 7) or
c:\documents and settings (Windows XP) as they will then become part of your roaming profile.
By default, the Documents (or My Documents on Windows XP) folder is part of your roaming profile. You should store no data at all in the Documents folder — you should instead save your files directly to a fileserver.
The default download location for your internet browser is often part of the Roaming Profile. You should change this so that downloaded files are saved directly to your fileserver. The exact instructions for doing this will depend upon which browser you use, but instructions for some common browsers are available at:
Files which are saved to your Desktop are stored in your roaming profile. Thus, the only things you should store on your Desktop are shortcuts (either for launching programs, or shortcuts to folders and files stored elsewhere). You should save all of your files directly to a fileserver (see above).
A number of programs save files into your roaming profile — both data files, and settings/configuration options. It is impossible to offer advice about every program, but if you have a managed Windows workstation we strongly recommend that you make use of our WPKG software deployment service rather than installing software yourself, as this will ensure that whenever possible, software is configured not to store data in your roaming profile. Nonetheless, some advice about some specific programs is listed below.
Thunderbird will download all emails and attachments to your profile by default. We recommend disabling this feature, as this data can amount to many GB. To do this, open Thunderbird, and select "Account Settings" from the "Tools" menu. Then choose the "Synchronisation & Storage" option at the left-hand side, and untick the box labelled "Keep messages for this account on this computer".
Dropbox — both the application itself and the files which it synchronises — is stored in your roaming profile. As it is not straightforward to change this behaviour, the Dropbox folder is excluded from your roaming profile via Group Policy, so it does not synchronise with the fileserver where your roaming profile is stored.
By default, OneDrive saves data to your roaming profile. As it is not straightforward to change this behaviour, the OneDrive folder is excluded from your roaming profile via Group Policy, so it does not synchronise with the fileserver where your roaming profile is stored. This also applies to the OneDrive - University of Cambridge folder you may have if you use the University's OneDrive for Business service.
VirtualBox saves its virtual hard disk images inside your profile by default. As these files are many tens of GB in size, you should save them in a different location. When you create a new Virtual Machine, you will typically create a new virtual hard disk as part of the process, so ensure you specify a location yourself rather than accepting the default option.
If you use Maven to manage your Java-based development projects, you should be aware that Maven will potentially download artifacts into your roaming profile. To avoid this, you should change the value of the
maven.repo.local setting (see the Maven documentation).