User Profiles are created locally whenever a new user logs on to the machine. This information is stored in the USER.DAT file for that particular user, and the USER.DAT is placed in a subdirectory unique to that user.

There are two types of profiles:

  • Local Profiles
    Local profiles are stored on the hard drive of the machine that the user is logged on to. This information is not shared with the network, and changes on one computer will not affect the local profile of another computer on the same network.

  • Roaming Profiles
    Roaming profiles are stored on the server. When a user logs on to a machine, the roaming profile data is downloaded from the server to the client machine. If any changes are made to the profile (such as changing the background desktop picture), the profile on the server is updated when the user logs off. Changes made on one computer will affect every other machine that the user logs on to.

    Unless user profiles are enabled, the computer uses a default profile for every user. Should a new user log on, the computer will use the default profile. Any changes made will be stored under that users data. Select the User Profiles tab of the Passwords icon in the Control Panel.

    If roaming profiles are activated on an NT server, the user is asked if they would like enable profiles when they log on. If they answer "no", the default profile is used. If they answer "yes", one of the following things will happen:

  • Profile Not on Server, Not on Local Machine:
    The default profile is copied to the user profile, and any changes are recorded in the USER.DAT and the roaming profile.

  • Profile Is on Server, Is on Local Machine:
    The date and times of both profile configurations are checked. The latest version is saved as the local and roaming profile. NOTE: If your profile keeps getting screwed up, check the date and time of the machine you've been using. When logging on to a network, always synchronize the clocks.

  • Profile Not on Server, Is on Local Machine:
    The local profile is used, then copied to the server as the local profile.

  • Profile Is on Server, Not on Local Machine:
    The roaming profile data is copied to the local profile.

    If you are using a Novell Netware server, the roaming profile is stored in the Mail\User_ID directory. When Win9x is connected to a Novell server, it always compares the profile timestamps. The latest profile will be used.