back to article User Data: Here, there, everywhere

Every computer user in the world has heard tales of “the computer that ate my files”. Perhaps the magical write-limit fairy arrived and turned your SSD back into a pumpkin. The infamous “someone, definitely not me” could have opened an infected email or Facebooked up an infected flash ad, corrupting the OS and causing all sorts …

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backed up and replicated work = good, backed up and replicated roaming profiles = bad

Ok, so I get where this is going and its a happy fluffy place where Alice can have a picture of her kitties (they're her 'babies') with thpeshal mouse cursors and a icon theme from the 1990's that reminds me of Geocities, along with a million IExplore toolbars and enough spyware to push the moon into a unstable orbit along with her entire ABBA collection in her ITunes account that is stored in her My Documents and definitely not forgetting along with every badly taken photo of her 'babies' (did I mention they are cats) that has then been b&w or 'sepia'ed in a misplaced attempt at improving the aesthetics and I wonder..

....what the everloving hell do I care if that vanishes overnight in a disk crash? I mean seriously...

Now I'll be the first to admit that Alice does a sterling job, she keeps a good watch out on the holidays and the phone list, she does the petty cash, she also keeps a tight clutch on the p45's, the work she does needs backing up with some priority..

..but roaming profiles and folder redirection? waste of server drive and tape space.

just you know, my /humble/ opinion.

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@morsey

The dark and sinister BOFH side of me happens to agree with you. Sadly, I don't get to set those kinds of policies, and neither do many sysadmins out there. For those of us who have to treat our users as though their desires and preferences matter...this is why things like roaming profiles exist.

At the end of the day, as much as I would like to rigidly enforce policies that make my job (and hence life) much easier, users very rarely listen to policy. Some sysadmins may be able to administer discipline or even fire staff for not adhering to the rules, however we sadly do not all have such luxuries.

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Tools, being selective and replication overkill

I agree in part with the previous comment, backing up My Docs and the Desktop (the commonest things to redirect or backup via roaming profiles) can be overkill. Although you could ask users to store their 'personals' somewhere else on the local PC - recycle bin perhaps :P.

I did for a while use Symantec Backup Exec's file and folder replication add-on, this is a different direction than roaming profiles because specific folders can be sync'ed periodically or 'near live' to the server. This fixes the logon/logoff issues but there are still potential problems with file locks and we did find some users machines got slowed down too much by the software (probably in part due to clashing with antivirus software).

One area which I think is largely over-hyped for roaming profiles is the whole 'roaming' bit. There are still few places that run 'proper' hot-desking so one of the key benefits (consistent desktop regardless of PC logged in to) is rarely seen.

Are future articles going to touch on things like virtualised desktops and using things like portable apps to keep applications self-contained?

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@choccieman

"Are future articles going to touch on things like virtualised desktops and using things like portable apps to keep applications self-contained?"

Most assuredly, however not in this set. Those are topics all thier own...

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Coffee/keyboard

No lunch for you

I was skipping along page two because I was hoping to see the author coming up with the fabulous idea of desktop virtualization (aka VDI, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure).

But no, it was rather some 90s cough-up about roaming profiles, where only reading the words of it made me sick. You even mention the "strangled scream" of admins who used the {R word} profile before, but that's where the article ends - so you offer basically no solution at all.

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@Jonas Nagel

That would be a) because VDI is a whole set of articles that will occur at some point in the future, and b) because even if you are using VDI, you still have the issue of managing profiles. (Those VHDs can only be so big.)

I should point out that I do indeed use VDI for my company. In fact there are now 43 Wyse thin clients sitting on the table in my office. (Down from 45, we're deploying them slowly.) The issue becomes roaming users. You just don’t have internet access /everywhere/. Because of this, they need access to information while offline. That is where things like folder redirection and roaming profiles are /still/ the only option.

I encourage you to read the whole set of user data articles in full. While I can’t, (and won’t) claim VDI to be the be-all and end-all solution to this mess, it is indeed touched on.

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