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Perform Post-Installation Tasks (part 2) - Managing User Data

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Managing User Data

The Windows Vista desktop administrator within an enterprise needs to manage user data. User data consists of

  • Profiles

  • Application data

  • Locally stored data

  • Remotely stored data

Windows Vista Profile Management

Windows Vista profiles have an entirely different structure than those in previous versions. The profile’s directory structure was simplified by reducing the complex folder hierarchy of previous Window profiles. The goal was to make accessing data within the profile more intuitive.

Using Windows Vista Folder Redirection for Data Access

Folder redirection in Windows Vista presents another issue when mixed environments are involved. Folder redirection in Windows operating systems concentrated on these four folders and their hierarchy:

  • Application data

  • Desktop

  • My Documents

  • Start menu

With Windows Vista profile folder modifications, folder redirection is not 100% compatible between Windows Vista and these previous versions. A new folder redirection setting was created so that if Group Policy is created to affect folder redirection on Windows Vista computers within the infrastructure, a separate setting is used to determine whether a similar folder redirection policy will take effect on Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, or Windows XP computers.

To affect Group Policy settings on Windows Vista computers within a domain, your system must meet the following requirements:

  • A Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003, or Windows Server 2008 domain must exist.

  • The domain name system (DNS) must be used for name server resolution.

  • A Windows Vista computer must be used as the administrative workstation.

Starting up Group Policy Management using the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), you are presented with a forest hierarchy. When you select a hierarchical location within the domain to create your Group Policy, the Group Policy Object Editor opens your new Group Policy object. Tunneling down into the new Group Policy to create your folder redirection policy, you click through the following path:

User Configuration\Windows Settings\Folder Redirection

At this juncture, you are presented with the top hierarchical folder layer of the Vista folder redirection policy. At this location there are far more options to choose than the four previous folders. You can now choose to redirect any of the following folder hierarchies present in Figure 2. You also see that upon making a selection of a particular folder within the hierarchy, you have a new option to enforce folder redirection on Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP computers.

Figure 2. You can choose the option to apply folder redirection policy to previous Window operating systems.

This option is available for selection only if the folder redirection policy in Windows Vista has a comparable folder redirection policy in the previous Windows operating systems.

Folder redirection for Windows Vista computers has another viable purpose other than centralizing user data. If a Windows XP user is also a user of a Windows Vista computer and roaming profiles are in use within the domain, sharing a roaming profile between Windows Vista and the XP computer is not possible.

You set up roaming profiles under Windows Vista in the exact same way as you have in the past. In Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC), you must configure the path to the user’s profile. You select and open the properties of the user account. Select the Profile tab of the user’s account property tabs. Here, you type the location for the storage of the roaming profiles using the normal Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path:


After you apply the changes to the Profile properties of the user account, the variable %Username% is changed to the name of the user’s logon name. When a Windows user logs on and initiates the use of his roaming profile, the directory is created. The difference for a Windows Vista user is that, instead of the directory name created in the roaming profile share location being just the user’s logon name, it is now the user’s logon name with a .V2 extension appended. Microsoft added this extension to notate that the roaming profile is now a “version 2” profile versus the older “version 1” profiles from any previous Windows operating systems.

Windows Vista uses an extension at the end of the folder path to reference an updated version of the profile. Figure 3 shows the addition of the .V2 extension to some of the user folders on the left side of the Explorer output. Also note the differences in the Version 1 profile that is displayed under TestUser2 on the left side of the Explorer window, as compared to the Version 2 profile that is displayed on the right for the same user.

Figure 3. Note the differences between the Version 1 profile and the Version 2 profile.


When Not to Use the .V2 Folder Extension Do not append the .V2 extension to the path that is typed into the user’s profile path in Active Directory and Users and Computers. If it is added, Active Directory has no way of finding that path and the roaming profile is not created.

Recall the previous problem in which the user who uses Windows XP and Windows Vista computers requires the use of a roaming profile to centralize the storage of his profile data. To allow access to the data when the user is logged on from a system using either operating system, you have the user continue to use the roaming profile. When that user is using a system with Windows XP, the roaming profile original path is used. When the user uses a Windows Vista computer, a new user’s profile directory is created with a .V2 extension appended to the end of the user’s name. To access the data from the original roaming profile, you can implement a folder redirection policy to point to shared locations within the user’s data stored within the original roaming profile. If you recall from the previous discussion of setting up folder redirection policies, you have the ability to distinguish which operating systems the folder redirection policy affects even though it is applied to the user. For this situation, you would not want the policy applied if the user is not using a Windows Vista–based computer. In this case, ensure you do not select the option to apply it to other Windows operating systems.

Additional work is required to make this fix a success. You need to create shares within the original roaming profile and use these shares as pointer references for the folder redirection policy. For a complete setup of this scenario, including step-by-step directions for creating the folder redirection policy, download Microsoft’s abstract titled Managing Roaming User Data Deployment Guide from the Windows Vista TechNet library. You can find this guide at http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsVista/en/library/fb3681b2-da39-4944-93ad-dd3b6e8ca4dc1033.mspx.

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