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It seems obvious to me that User DSNs should carried along with a roaming User's Profiles, and when only a System DSN is set, that it will not be pulled along with the User's profile when they hop from work station to workstation.

However, I don't know this for a fact, although it makes sense in my head. Is that the case, does have to be a particular kind of profile for this to occur?

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You need to also consider that the DSN will normally rely on the correct drivers being available on each system, which isn't always going to be the case. – John Gardeniers Sep 12 '12 at 4:50
up vote 2 down vote accepted

In the instances that roaming profiles actually function as intended/expected, this is what happens, yes. User DSNs move with the users (providing the machine they move to have the requisite driver installed), System DSNs stay with whatever system they're on. Of course, if the same System DSN is on multiple machines, it will still be there for a roaming user, but because it was there to begin with, not because it moved.

Having said that, if you throw out a Google search on User DSNs and roaming profiles, you'll get a whole bunch of results back for how to troubleshoot it not working, which should inform you about the wisdom of relying on roaming profiles to actually work reliably.

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Sounds like you've been burned before... – Ryan Ries Sep 12 '12 at 1:00
"Which should inform you about the wisdom of relying on roaming profiles to actually work reliably"...noted... – leeand00 Sep 12 '12 at 2:20
leeand00: While I'm not discounting or dismissing anyone else's experience with roaming user profiles, I'll say that I've managed more than 1,000 roaming user profiles across 20 Terminal Servers for longer than 7 years now and can count on one hand the number of issues I've had with them. – joeqwerty Sep 12 '12 at 3:02
@RyanRies Yeah, it seems to be something that varies inexplicably from environment to environment and admin to admin. If you never have any problems with it, they're awesome, and count your blessings. If you do, break out the aspirin, because they seem to be a particularly large PITA to troubleshoot and get working as expected (at least in my experience). I've experienced both kinds of environments, but it's the ones that give you the massive headaches that you remember the most poignantly. – HopelessN00b Sep 12 '12 at 3:36
When we expect the worst, being wrong is a good thing. – John Gardeniers Sep 12 '12 at 4:48

Yes, a user DSN roams with the user profile. The user DSN is stored in the HKCU registry hive for the user.

A system DSN is stored in the HKLM registry hive on the computer where the DSN was created.

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I can assure you that system DSNs are not going to roam, as they are stored in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.

User DSNs should roam however, as you can create User DSNs using the user-specific portion of the registry

Per Microsoft:

All registry entries in HKEY_CURRENT_USER except those under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes are included in the per-user registry portion of a roaming user profile.

Edit: Beaten by 50 seconds. -_-

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