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In previous versions of Windows, the Roaming Profile is uploaded only when the user logs off. However, in Windows 7, a Group Policy setting can allow the registry file to be uploaded in the background. The setting is called Background upload of roaming user profile’s registry file while user is logged on.

However, with this setting set, the Win32_UserProfile LastUploadTime field in WMI still only reflects the last log off. I assume that this is because more than just the registry file need to be uploaded to the server in order to qualify as a full upload.

So, my question is: What other parts of the profile are uploaded on log off?

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

Everything in the local user profile folder (pointed to by the environment variable %USERPROFILE%) gets synchronized with the roaming profile on the file server at logoff, except folders configured in the exclusion list.

By default, the exclusion list contains (on Windows 7):

  • $Recycle.bin
  • AppData\Local
  • AppData\LocalLow

The list is stored in the registry, at

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\ExcludeProfileDirs

It can be configured via the Group Policy setting

User Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\User Profiles\Exclude directories in roaming profile.

For more information please see my article How to Reduce the Size of Roaming Profiles and Microsoft Knowledge base articles KB315415 and KB814592.

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Note that on Windows 7 (32-bit) changing the policy causes ntuser.ini to be updated on the next login, but DOES NOT update the value at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\ExcludeProfileDirs – Deanna Nov 1 '13 at 11:29
@helge fantastic answer! Thanks in particular for linking to your article. This lead to your Profile Toolkit suite of information about Windows profiles, which is just so, so useful to have in one place. So, thanks! – Charles Roper Feb 24 '14 at 10:59

Lots of things - it sounds like your understanding of Roaming Profiles is fairly lacking. The user registry (Which is really NTUSER.DAT) is only one half of the story. I'd suggest browsing to your roaming profiles location (The one on the server, rather than the workstation) and you'll all of the other stuff such as Application Data and maybe the Desktop etc etc.

All of the things you see there are uploaded at log off, and downloaded at log on.

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No that's not quite correct, things are syncronized at logon, not uploaded. background uploads allow you to set time intervals or specific times to do uploads. So at log off it's entirely possible that very little (if anything ) is uploaded – Jim B Jan 13 '12 at 21:01
You're right @JimB that's a good point. Though I interpreted as the OP not realising there was more to a roaming profile. Additionally, background uploads need to be specifically configured so we can probably assume they don't use them. – Dan Jan 13 '12 at 22:44
even without background uploads enabled, only changes would be synchonized so what gets uploaded depends always on usage. – Jim B Jan 14 '12 at 0:20

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