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Archive for February 17th, 2011

Understanding and Troubleshooting the Windows Temp Profile

Posted by William Diaz on February 17, 2011


When there is a mismatch between the local profile of a domain user and the network profile, you are going to run into a scenario where the user is logged on with a temp profile. The problem becomes apparent when the user sees only a standard desktop, which is missing their previous saved customizations and personal settings. This profile is created from the Default user account in C:\Documents and Settings\Default User + the settings applied by group policy and logon scripts. When this occurs, it is important to know why so that we can identify the problem and correct it.

When you logon for the first time with a new profile, that profile is created in C:\Documents and Settings\username. As you begin working and personalizing the desktop, programs, Windows appearances, connecting to printers, etc, these settings become a permanent part of your profile. In an environment where roaming profiles are enabled these personalization’s are also written to some network location (e.g. the local office file server) so that they can follow you to other workstations you log on to. Your roaming profile is composed of various folders and files copied from your local profile, e.g. Favorites, Contacts, Application Data, and most importantly ntuser.dat, also known as HKCU, the part of the registry that contains all your configurations. The roaming profile is written to the network profile when you log off each time and any changes made locally are merged to the profile on the network share afterwards. The next time you logon to that workstation, the profile on the local computer and network are compared. If there is a mismatch, then you run into a Windows logon prompt similar to this.
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