Profile Sync Wizard

The Profile Sync Wizard can help simplify the deployment of mandatory user profiles.

User Profiles Profile Sync Result Log

User Profiles

On a Microsoft Windows computer, the user profile is where personal settings are saved the next time you logon. The settings may be things you choose to save, such as your bookmarks, colour scheme and wallpaper or they may be things saved for you, such as browser history, window positions and software that starts when you login. There are typically thousands of file, folder and registry changes stored in the user profile, collectively referred to as 'user state'.

There are three main types of user profile that are used to store user state:

  • Local - the type of profile you get on a home computer or on a network that doesn't manage user profiles. The profile is stored locally, on the computer itself and, if you logon a different computer you will receive a fresh profile with none of your settings remembered.
  • Roaming - on networked computers your profile can be set to follow you to whichever computer you use. All of the local user profile setting changes will be copied to the network when you log off, so that they can be copied back, to whichever computer you use, the next time you logon.
  • Mandatory - similar to a roaming profile, but frozen in time. You receive the same settings at any network computer you logon to, but changes are not saved when you log off, so your settings revert to the saved state the next time you logon.

Which To Use?

You have chosen poorly!

On the face of it, roaming profiles might appear to be a good compromise for networked computers and it may even have been true twenty years ago but, these days, appearances are definitely deceptive!

The sheer quantity of data that is stored in a typical user profile, combined with the increasing reliance on wireless networks makes roaming profiles a poor choice in most circumstances, resulting in lengthy login delays.

Using local profiles will result in reasonable login times, if the user has used the computer before, but creating a new profile can lead to delays, especially as some software, such as Microsoft Office, can be slow to initialise the first time it is used. Local profiles also do little to help inhibit the spread of malicious applications.

Worse still, the persistence of user state that local and roaming profiles offer have undesirable consequences, whereby malicious scripts, ransomware or malware can remain dormant and wait for the next logon to activate!

For these reasons we have come to regard mandatory profiles as the optimum solution for schools use, click the Mandatory Profiles tab above to see why.

Mandatory User Profiles FTW!

The fact that mandatory profiles make no effort to maintain user state can be viewed as a major drawback. After all, having your computer forget your favourite colour scheme, that wallpaper you like or even your preferred network printer, does not seem to be ideal on the face of it.

However, on school networks in particular, it is a drawback that can be mitigated and even turned into an advantage!

Pros:

  • Loss of user state - the fact that changes a users make to their profiles are not retained the next time they logon.

Cons:

  • Loss of user state -
  • Difficult to maintain - traditionally a fair comment, but the SchoolSuite Profile Sync Wizard goes a long way toward mitigating the fact.