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When a particular user is having a lot of problems with Windows XP e.g. applications crashing, unresponsive applications (which used to work), and as a general troubleshooting practice for a domain user, I normally rename that user's old profile and get him/her to logon to create a "fresh" profile (on the same PC). More often than not, this will solve the problem albeit some reconfiguration i.e. Outlook, Excel add-ins etc.

As I took over the systems admin role from another administrator, I would like to know what is the easiest way to find out (either through a third party or some Windows administrative tool) what settings are carried over if the profile is a Roaming Profile. I tested creating a new user profile for one of my users and it seems basic Outlook settings such as the user's mailbox and PSTs are carried over automatically when I create a new user profile. I suspect this is done through a batch file loaded as part of the login script. However, my knowledge of scripting is limited and I don't want any corruptions to be carried over to the new profile. Can someone share their experiences on this?

Thanks in advance.

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If you have an Exchange or IMAP server, mail is kept on the server, so re-running Outlook on a fresh profile will be a matter of configuring it to look on the mail server for the user's data.

Profiles carry desktop settings, shortcuts, recently used, favorites, cached data, desktop and folder customizations, anything that is specific to the user's settings in the registry, etc. with them. In XP, you can see everything that is moved around with the profile from the c:\documents and settings\ folder. All files there are what are compared and used in profiles. You also have menu items that get merged with the local system's start menu items within the profile as well (programs that are installed just for their use, startup items just for them, things like that).

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@Bart - Thanks for your reply. What about registry entries? I heard from a colleague that whatever that is transferred across is or can be specified in group policy. The settings that have been configured to be carried across will also include registry entries. I would like to avoid transferring any "corruptions" across and so I would like to know what experienced admins such as yourself would do to check this :) – molecule Apr 26 '10 at 14:42
There are items specific to the user in the currentuser hive, I believe. Those are stored in files in the profile that are merged at login time with the rest of the registry keys. see… – Bart Silverstrim Apr 26 '10 at 15:53
In the end there are things that go major wonky when the registry or files are corrupt. It happens. And rather than "fix" it, it's easier to back up favorites, "my documents" (use home directories to store things whenever possible instead!), and wipe the profile and change where it's pointing in Active Directory. Appropriate enough we had a user today where half their start menu was missing and it wasn't launching a policy-configured program to authenticate to our filter system properly. Wiped profile, reconfigure Outlook, recopy favorites and desktop icons and they worked again. – Bart Silverstrim Apr 26 '10 at 15:55

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