Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?



  • Scenario: 6 terminal servers in 3 locations. Application used on the terminal server has a profile folder for each user. This profile is currently stored on one file server. The application performs best when the profile is actually on the disk of the terminal server that the application is run on at the time.

    The original plan was to do DFS replication for the central file server, but a proposal was made to have a file server on in DFS replication as a location for Roaming Profiles. The Roaming Profiles will ensure that the Application profile is local.

    When reading this proposal, red flags come up with me on seeing Roaming Profiles. However, I have never used Roaming Profiles and have just gone with the general consensus that they are prone to slowness problems. But is there a way to do them well? I know there are some out there that manage it with Roaming Profiles + folder redirection. Do Roaming Profiles require the whole profile to be roaming? (thus requiring the folder redirection for things like Desktop and Documents)

    My initial thought on reading the proposal was that we would be basically duplicating our replication. i.e. the Roaming folder gets synced to each terminal server and the roaming profile gets synced between DFS-R members. Why not just sync the data between the terminal servers?



  • I've found roaming profiles to be the source of headaches and frustration. Your mileage may vary though, and it's entirely possible I did a less-than-stellar job implementing roaming profiles (was a few years ago). I found folder redirection (with DFS namespace) without roaming profiles achieved most of what I wanted and was more reliable.



  • If you are going to be doing RDS, I would recommend using User Profile Disks (UPD). It eliminates some of the complexities of roaming profiles. Apps that don't work well with roaming profiles work file with UPDs because it connects a VHDX to C:\Users\usersname as opposed to storing all the files on \someserver\someshare\username.



  • In theory Yes,.. Roaming Profiles can be a good thing.

    But you have to force the users to NOT SAVE files on the local computer. This is what kills roaming... You can't allow anything to be saved on the local as it will dog the computer and network every time someone logs in or moves to a new computer.

    best to just not.



  • @dafyre said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    If you are going to be doing RDS, I would recommend using User Profile Disks (UPD). It eliminates some of the complexities of roaming profiles. Apps that don't work well with roaming profiles work file with UPDs because it connects a VHDX to C:\Users\usersname as opposed to storing all the files on \someserver\someshare\username.

    Not heard of UPD... but that is an interesting process.



  • @gjacobse said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    @dafyre said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    If you are going to be doing RDS, I would recommend using User Profile Disks (UPD). It eliminates some of the complexities of roaming profiles. Apps that don't work well with roaming profiles work file with UPDs because it connects a VHDX to C:\Users\usersname as opposed to storing all the files on \someserver\someshare\username.

    Not heard of UPD... but that is an interesting process.

    Sadly, it's only for RDS right now. I wish they'd just set it up to replace roaming profiles. One disadvantage to UPD though -- you can only have the disk mounted on one server at a time. This normally isn't a problem with RDS deployments though.

    0_1523623640592_5e814a26-4547-42e5-85c8-f171c8d8a54d-image.png


  • Service Provider

    I have had so many problems with roaming profiles over the years.

    So I used redirected folders and offline files. Again lots of problems.

    Finally ownCloud came out and I moved en masse to it.


  • Service Provider

    @jaredbusch said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    I have had so many problems with roaming profiles over the years.

    So I used redirected folders and offline files. Again lots of problems.

    Finally ownCloud came out and I moved en masse to it.

    Same here, Nextcloud makes all of that Windows overhead seem so silly. And frees you from Windows licensing, Windows desktop lock in, etc. all as bonuses.



  • @dafyre said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    If you are going to be doing RDS, I would recommend using User Profile Disks (UPD). It eliminates some of the complexities of roaming profiles. Apps that don't work well with roaming profiles work file with UPDs because it connects a VHDX to C:\Users\usersname as opposed to storing all the files on \someserver\someshare\username.

    Interesting that this never came up in my mcsa.
    But it looks like scale out file server would be required in this situation



  • @flaxking said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    @dafyre said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    If you are going to be doing RDS, I would recommend using User Profile Disks (UPD). It eliminates some of the complexities of roaming profiles. Apps that don't work well with roaming profiles work file with UPDs because it connects a VHDX to C:\Users\usersname as opposed to storing all the files on \someserver\someshare\username.

    Interesting that this never came up in my mcsa.
    But it looks like scale out file server would be required in this situation

    You need a reliable server. I do think it needs to be on SMB3 though. I've got this running on a Server 2012 R2 setup and have zero issues with it.

    Edit: Just don't reboot the server that holds the UPDs while everybody is connected. 😃



  • It sounds like they are pretty confident they can implement a good roaming profiles setup and are going to go ahead with it. It's their problem and not mine, so I'm going trust they know what they are doing.



  • Roaming profiles are an archaic approach and a major headache, always have been in every environment I've been in. They were a good idea when introduced, but constantly has issues. Folder redirection replaced roaming in some environments, but I've still had some of the weirdest issues with even folder redirection. There are other methods for storing files anymore.



  • I only use a small subset of roaming profiles, which is only to sync user certificates. It stores them in AD and are automatically loaded into their personal certificate store on the machines they log in to.

    I wouldn't use more than that.



  • My advice is to not use roaming profiles and instead use Folder Redirection , they will be less trouble.



  • @dbeato said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    My advice is to not use roaming profiles and instead use Folder Redirection , they will be less trouble.

    This is the best way to do it imo.



  • @dbeato said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    My advice is to not use roaming profiles and instead use Folder Redirection , they will be less trouble.

    Also using roaming profiles will create different profile versions for each OS the RDS are on which can cause a lot headache with registry and applications.



  • @dbeato said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    My advice is to not use roaming profiles and instead use Folder Redirection , they will be less trouble.

    Manual Folder Redirection with Symbolic Links
    I've actually been using folder redirection with symbolic links instead of changing any of the user shell folders paths. And with some adjustments, its been working great for users that are using Nextcloud.



  • @black3dynamite said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    @dbeato said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    My advice is to not use roaming profiles and instead use Folder Redirection , they will be less trouble.

    Manual Folder Redirection with Symbolic Links
    I've actually been using folder redirection with symbolic links instead of changing any of the user shell folders paths. And with some adjustments, its been working great for users that are using Nextcloud.

    That’s good that it works for you, although symbolic links can be a disaster if not properly configured in Windows.


  • Service Provider

    @dbeato said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    @black3dynamite said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    @dbeato said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    My advice is to not use roaming profiles and instead use Folder Redirection , they will be less trouble.

    Manual Folder Redirection with Symbolic Links
    I've actually been using folder redirection with symbolic links instead of changing any of the user shell folders paths. And with some adjustments, its been working great for users that are using Nextcloud.

    That’s good that it works for you, although symbolic links can be a disaster if not properly configured in Windows.

    How? I have never had a problem with symlinks.



  • @jaredbusch said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    @dbeato said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    @black3dynamite said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    @dbeato said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    My advice is to not use roaming profiles and instead use Folder Redirection , they will be less trouble.

    Manual Folder Redirection with Symbolic Links
    I've actually been using folder redirection with symbolic links instead of changing any of the user shell folders paths. And with some adjustments, its been working great for users that are using Nextcloud.

    That’s good that it works for you, although symbolic links can be a disaster if not properly configured in Windows.

    How? I have never had a problem with symlinks.

    Before Windows 10 to get a symlinknyou couldn’t do it without elevated permissions now is much improved. I was just stating that if not planned properly (meaning symlinks are created but configuration of NextCloud, OneDrive or whatever’s have you are not set) You wil have applications and data issues (which is expected) . Linux has very well set symlinks better than Windows in my opinion so far.



  • @dbeato said in Can Roaming Profiles be a good idea?:

    Before Windows 10 to get a symlinknyou couldn’t do it without elevated permissions now is much improved.

    I use directory junction (/J) instead of directory symbolic link (/D), which requires admin privileges. All I wanted is to create a link from c:\users\user1\Desktop to c:\users\user1\Nextcloud\Desktop.

    Edit: Now obviously there are more to it than just creating links to have it properly setup.