Difference between Local Profile and Roaming Profile

Key Difference: In a local user profile, the setting changes made to a computer are saved locally on that computer. In a roaming user profile, setting changes made to the computer are saved onto the server and loaded on any computer the user logs in.

Many companies these days are creating different types of profiles that allow a user to access that profile or login account from any machine. Whenever you purchase a Windows computer, it requires you to automatically create a log in, which can be named anything depending on the person. However in companies, people that require to constantly change computers in the organization are issued a roaming profile. Let’s understand the difference between the two confusing profiles.

A local profile is a profile created with a log –in and password and issued to an employee. The person then logs on to the system and makes some settings changes to that profile. These settings could include downloading certain applications, changing the desktop settings, browser settings, etc. This local profile is saved on the computer that the user made the changes on. Whenever, the person logs onto the computer, their profile is cached locally on that server. However, if a person were to log on to another computer, they would not see these changes that were made. A local profile is simple to create as the person only has to create a domain for the user. This profile is also beneficial incase the system or the profile becomes corrupted, as it would only affect the profile rather than the entire farm.

For people that are constantly on the move and require using multiple computers, they are issued a roaming profile. A roaming user profile allows the computer to save the settings and changes on the server directly. So all the changes that a person makes is directly cached on to the server. Whenever a person logs in to any computer, the profile will access the cached data on the server and then load the setting on to the new computer as well. The person would easily be able to access the applications, or settings that he has made. However, for a roaming profile to work, the person must be logged onto the same server. Another server, would not have his domain or profile on it. Roaming profiles are considered as hectic because log in time takes too long as the computer must cache the server. Also, if a profile is corrupted, it has a chance of infecting the entire server network. The benefit of a roaming profile is that a person will be able to access all the same settings or applications if they change their computer.

Many companies these days issue local profiles more commonly and ask the people to save all the documents and files on the server rather than the computer. This ensures that the person does not lose any data and if they also have to shift computers, they only lose certain settings or appearance changes made to the computer. A roaming profile is very uncommon and only issued in case a person has to frequently shift computers or a person who works in multiple departments. Roaming profiles have multiple limitations such as longer log-in and log-out timings, login delays over LAN or WAN, the greater the amount of data stored on the roaming profile, the longer it takes to log on and log off. Third party websites are unable to recognize between the different profiles and end up saving temporary files onto the roaming profile. The main problem of roaming user profiles occurs with the new updated profiles, where the data is not backed up on the server until the person logs off. So, incase a person shuts down the computer without logging of or a computer crashes, the data is not saved.

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