I am seeing something unusual that has to do with Windows 7 roaming profiles in conjunction with folder redirection. Roaming profiles are enabled on a Windows 7 machine via group policy, and the users Desktop/Documents/etc folders are redirected.

The problem is for some reason multiple instances of the Desktop/Documents folder appear when a users browses with Windows explorer to their home folder. For example we can see a Desktop that is part of the users profile \users\username\Desktop and a Desktop folder that belongs to the redirected folder \\server\share\users\%USERNAME%\desktop.

Duplicate Desktop

This behavior results in some users storing files in the roaming profile version of the Desktop and Documents folders resulting in very long login/logoff times while the files are transfered to/from the server.

This is for a computer lab, so using roaming profiles is absolutely required.

We have tried manually deleting all the Desktop/Documents folders that are part of the users profile but they seem to come back. We are thinking about setting up a scheduled task to automatically delete these folders, but surely there is a better way?

The domain controllers and file servers are all Windows 2008R2.

A typical user folder on the server looks like this.


  - *Desktop           (redirected)
    *Documents         (redirected)  
        Music          (redirected - follow desktop)
        Pictures       (redirected - follow desktop)
        Games          (redirected - follow desktop)
        Videos         (redirected - follow desktop)
  - *Downloads         (redirected)
  - *Favorites         (redirected)
  - *Links             (redirected)
  - *AppData           (redirected)
  - RoamingProfile.V2  (roaming profile)

So what is needed to get redirection and profiles to work properly and not have Windows somehow generate the Desktop/Documents/etc folders in the roaming profile? How do you handle this? Is there some obvious fix we are missing?

1 Answer 1


There is a group policy setting for excluding specific folders from roaming with the user profile. Setting this should avoid the problem you are seeing. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/814592

  • Which should keep the profile from roaming, but does it keep windows from creating it? What happens when the user decides to store the extremely critical document in that folder, and it gets wiped lost because the system is also set to purge the local profiles, or they can't figure out which computer they were on?
    – Zoredache
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 23:15
  • @Matt It at the bottom of this group policy is states "Note: You cannot use this setting to include the default folders in a roaming user profile." I was under the impression that the folders I am getting duplicated are the default folders? Am I off base? Will this prevent windows from creating these folders?
    – id10t
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 23:23
  • The behavior I've seen with this policy is that setting after the system has already added one of these folders to the roaming profile will not delete the existing folder from the roaming profile. It will only affect new profiles. I'm not sure what is meant by the note about default folders. The folders that are associated with a profile (i.e. Desktop, My Documents, etc) get created every time a user profile is created. The difference is whether or not they get created locally or as part of the roaming profile.
    – MattChorba
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 14:17
  • If they are excluded from the roaming profile they will only be available on the local machine. Then, through folder redirection, they will be stored on a network storage of your choice while appearing to the user as if they are still local machine folders. The setup I use is bare-bones roaming profile (through folder exclusion policy) combined with redirecting My Documents and Desktop to the user Home folder.
    – MattChorba
    Commented Dec 14, 2011 at 14:17

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