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Managing files for local user accounts

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Managing files for local user accounts

Administrators can use home folders and My Documents to collect user files in one location. User files located in one place simplifies the backup process and makes access control management easier to maintain.

Home folders can be a local folder or a folder located on a shared resource and can be assigned to a single user or many users. When a home folder is assigned to a user, it becomes the user's default folder for the Open and Save As dialog boxes, for command prompt sessions, and for all programs without a defined working folder.

The My Documents folder is an alternative for home folders, but it does not replace them. When a user tries to save or open a file, most programs determine whether to use the home folder or My Documents in one of two ways:

  • Some programs first look in the home folder for files that match the type of file that is to be opened or saved (for example, *.doc or *.txt). If a file with that extension is found, the program opens the home folder and ignores My Documents. If a file of that type is not found, the program opens My Documents.

  • In other programs, the home folder is ignored, regardless of whether the home folder contains any files.

For more information about how to assign home folders, see Assign a home folder to a local user account.

When upgrading servers from Windows NT 4.0 or earlier, programs that have stored documents in the home folder will continue to open and save documents in the home folder. However, if a program is installed after you have upgraded, the program uses My Documents to open and save files.

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