Windows stores information about a particular user in a so-called profile. Some examples of the sort of data that gets stored in a profile are (N.B. this list is not exhaustive):
- Application data and settings
- The "Documents"/"My Documents" folder
- The "Downloads" folder, which is where your internet browser may save to by default
- Files stored on your Desktop
- Directories you create under c:\users\[your-username]
Members of some groups in the department have a roaming profile. This means that the master copy of the profile is stored on a fileserver. When you log in to a Windows computer, the contents of your profile will be synchronised from the fileserver to the local computer. When you log out of the computer, any changes to the profile are then synchronised back to the server. Instructions for checking whether or not you have a roaming profile are available here.
There are two main reasons why a roaming profile might be useful in the department. Firstly, because the contents of the profile are stored centrally, whenever you log on to any computer in the department you will have the same application data and settings (e.g., internet browser bookmarks, preferences in Microsoft Office etc.).
Secondly, because the master copy of your roaming profile is stored on a Departmentally-managed fileserver, all data stored within it is automatically backed up.
However, roaming profiles can also cause problems. Because they are synchronised with the fileserver whenever you log in or log out, a large roaming profile can cause logging in/out to be slow. We therefore recommend that your roaming profile should be kept as small as possible, and some advice for achieving this is available here.