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I've done some reading and apparently the main obstacle to fast remote profile syncing is that Samba takes a long time to transfer lots of little files like cookies. After reading Roaming Profiles: Best Practices , I plan to use Folder Redirection, but I want my users to be able to login as rapidly as possible, even if it means that their data is still coming in when they reach their desktop. Is there a way to do this with GPO or a third party add-on that can load user profile data faster/speed up the login process for users?

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The first obstacle is keeping the size of the roaming profiles under control. No matter what you do if you have big profiles they will take time to come down. - I would check the size of the profiles before doing anything else. –  JamesK Jan 5 '11 at 9:59
    
Is linux involved? If not then it is not Samba, it is smb or cifs. Whether you are asking for windows or linux tools is going to make a huge difference to the answer. –  JamesRyan Jan 5 '11 at 12:54
    
Nope, no Linux. Mixed XP/Win7 machines. –  user65712 Jan 5 '11 at 18:38
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...even if it means that their data is still coming in when they reach their desktop

This is referred to as profile streaming. It is implemented in third-party profile management products only, namely Citrix Profile Management, RTO Virtual Profiles (bought by VMware and currently not available) and Appsense Environment Manager. The only one of these products that is available independent of other products comes from Appsense, but be warned, it is not inexpensive.

If buying into a third-party product is not a possibility for you, I recommend you carefully analyze and optimize your roaming profiles. Here are some articles from my blog that may be helpful:

User Profile Design: A Primer

How to Reduce the Size of Roaming Profiles

Should AppData be Redirected or Left in the User Profile?

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