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Windows 2000 Pro: The Missing Manual by Sharon Crawford

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User Profiles

Your user profile stores everything your computer knows about the environment for your user account: your desktop icons and wallpaper, Start menu configuration, My Network Places shortcuts, and so on. Windows 2000 has four types of profiles:

Local User Profile

The local user profile is the default profile type. It sits on your computer; unlike some other kinds of profiles, it doesn't follow you when you use another computer. In other words, you have a separate user profile on every computer at which you log on locally (as opposed to over the network).

Roaming Profiles

As described on Section 14.1.1.1.3, a roaming profile is a user profile that's stored on a network server, which lets you sit down at any computer on the network—or even dial in from the road—and be treated to the same profile settings (desktop, Start menu, and so on) you'd see if you were actually sitting in front of your regularly scheduled PC.

Mandatory Profiles

A mandatory profile is essentially a read-only roaming profile. When the administrator gives you a mandatory profile, you're allowed to make changes to your desktop environment, but they're not saved. The next time you log on to the network, the server again downloads the mandatory profile's settings to your computer.

Default User Profiles

When a new user logs on, Windows 2000 creates a new user profile, which inherits its settings from the default user profile. In other words, the default profile is like a template that serves as a starting point ...

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