User profiles are a Windows feature that keeps track of an individual user's preferences for his or her Windows configuration. For a non-networked computer, profiles enable two or more users to use the same computer, each with his or her own desktop settings, such as wallpaper, colors, Start menu options, and so on.
The real benefit of user profiles becomes apparent when profiles are used on a network. A user's profile can be stored on a server computer and accessed whenever that user logs on to the network from any Windows computer on the network. The following are some of the elements of Windows that are governed by settings in the user profile:
- Desktop settings from the Display Properties dialog box, including wallpaper, screen savers, and color schemes.
- Start menu programs and Windows toolbar options.
- Favorites, which provide easy access to the files and folders that the user accesses frequently.
- Network settings, including drive mappings, network printers, and recently visited network locations.
- Application settings, such as option settings for Microsoft Word.
- The My Documents folder.