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What is the best way to allow users on a LAN to easily sit at a new computer and have all their settings brought in when they sit there? The settings brought in would be:

  • Outlook / email settings
  • Mapped drives Network Printers Browser
  • favorites/bookmarks
  • Application shortcuts needed by the new user

The network is a Windows 2003 Active Directory domain environment The solution would only need to be at one physical location but possibly would be extended to other locations over VPN.

Some possibilities I've considered are roaming profiles, scripting, or virtualization techniques, but I haven't tried any yet and I'm looking for input.

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Just being nosey, are you working for a school? – Lucas McCoy May 2 '09 at 19:58
Not a school. Just a small business with about 40 computers, with a few users that work at multiple desks and a small IT staff (just me). I would like to prevent getting called just to setup a new user location. – Tom Willwerth May 2 '09 at 20:01
up vote 5 down vote accepted

To cover all the options you specfied you would need to use a combination of techniques:

Outlook setup is a little more complicated, you can generate a .prf file that contains all the users Outlook setup instructions, which can be run as a startup script to setup the user outlook connection

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I would recommend looking at ScriptLogic as a choice to assist with managing this type of configuration. – Kevin Kuphal Jun 5 '09 at 18:38

Personally (and I don't know if you will see this answer but maybe the Google people behind you will), I would run with Windows Terminal Servies. Esentially it makes the local machines thin/dumb clients and keeps all of their data at the server. This would work extremelly well for the enviroment you are describing including the remoting in through a VPN. RDP is pretty easy on the bandwith. We have run a solution like this for 2 and a half years now and have been thrilled with it.

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