Much like in NT 4, a user profile defines a user’s desktop environment and settings. This can include things like the placement of desktop icons, drive and printer mappings, and mouse-related properties. In Windows 2000, two types of profiles still exist – local and roaming.
A local profile is the most simple. By default, every time a user logs onto a system for the first time, the default profile is opened for that user, and is ultimately saved on that system in a folder bearing the user’s name, under the Documents and Settings folder. Any changes made by the user are saved at logoff. When the user logs on to that system again, they receive the environment they left off with. The nature of a local profile is that it does not ‘follow’ the user. That is, if the user were to log on to another computer, they would receive the default profile, and another local profile would be created.
A roaming profile is one where the user’s environment ‘follows’ them as they move to different systems on the network. These profiles are stored on a server, and are copied back and forth as the user logs on or off. In order for a user to have a roaming profile, the location of the profile must be stored in the properties of the user’s account, in the User Profile section of the ‘Profile’ tab.