Note: Flex Profile Kit version 4.0 is now available. Click here for details.
Flex profiles combine the customizability of roaming profiles with the speed efficiency of mandatory profiles. Jeroen van de Kamp of Login*Consultants in The Netherlands has just released version 3.0 of his flex profile kit. Once again, it's available at no cost!
In typical Windows environments, whether client-server or server-based, choosing the right profile strategy is never easy.
Many organizations prefer roaming profiles for those essential personal settings. But, as always, managing roaming profiles consumes a lot of resources. Because the profile content is controlled by the users themselves, roaming profiles remain a fragile component to administer and manage.
In many MetaFrame environments, applications are pooled into application silos. (Silos are separate sets of servers that host different applications.) In environments like these, users simultaneously logon on to different servers to use their applications. When using a single roaming profile, profile corruption or loss of personal settings is bound to happen. When the user’s roaming profile is updated and loaded on different servers at the same time, profile-related problems increase dramatically.
Windows 2003 allows a separate profile path for terminal servers via a GPO. This is a fine solution in small environments. However, separate profile paths for each silo have a big impact on the number of profiles you must manage. If a site has three separate application silos and 5000 users, that could possibly mean that 15000 terminal server profile are created.
Mandatory profiles seem like the appropriate answer to issues mentioned. Properly configured mandatory profiles are very fast, easy to manage, and cannot be corrupted. Mandatory profiles are (from an administrator’s point of view) a very robust component in the Windows NT environment.
There is only one big disadvantage of mandatory profiles—no personal registry settings are saved. It’s easy to redirect the profile folder content (such as My Documents and Application Data) to the user’s homedrive. This allows personal files that normally reside in the profile folder to be saved in the user’s homedrive. However, personal registry information cannot be redirected or saved when using a mandatory profile.
Nowadays, personal settings are considered essential. It is almost impossible to create a user-friendly working environment with mandatory profiles. Until now, mandatory profiles seem only suitable for users with generic activities.
The solution is the "Flex Profile." You can configure a Flex Profile Solution in seven easy steps:
- Configure a single empty mandatory profile for all users.
- Configure policies for profile folder redirection.
- Create INI file(s) from the Template.INI file(s) to designate which registry keys should be saved as personal settings.
- Copy ProflWiz.exe and the new .INI files locally to all Terminal Server or Citrix servers.
- Configure a logoff script to save the designated personal settings with proflwiz.exe.
- Edit the logon script to load personal settings with proflwiz.exe.
- Configure the user’s accounts terminal server profile to be the newly created mandatory profile.
These seven steps are all that's needed to setup Flex Profiles!