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Using Home Directories with Terminal Server

Updated: March 28, 2003

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

It is important that you plan for use of home directories in a Terminal Server environment because most applications must install user-specific information or copy configuration files for each user. By default, Windows Server 2003 defines a home directory for each user. For Terminal Server users, the default user’s home directory is his or her user profile directory on the terminal server, for example \Wtsrv\Profiles\Username. This directory contains user settings. Terminal Services writes user-specific application files, such as .ini files, and by default refers any application seeking the Windows system directory to the user’s home directory.

Users typically save their personal files to their home directory, in the My Documents folder. This can be a problem if roaming profiles are used and the home directory is located within the user’s profile directory. Windows Server 2003 copies everything in the user’s profile directory to the profile cache on the local computer each time the user logs on. This can take considerable time and resources, particularly if the roaming profile is stored across the network or over a slow link. You can use Group Policy to redirect the My Documents folder to a central non–Terminal Server computer. For more information, see "Change a user's Terminal Services profile path" in Help and Support Center for Windows Server 2003.

It is recommended that you use Terminal Services–specific home directories. Choose a location on a file or print server for the home directories. Share the file and give Change permissions to Everyone, then change the home directory path for Terminal Server users. By default, users have full access to their individual home directory. Administrators can copy files into the directory, but not read or delete files there.

You can specify a location for redirecting the home directory for Terminal Services users with the TS User Home Directory Group Policy setting. With this setting you can specify the location of the home directory on the network or on the local computer, the root path, and the network drive letter if the root path is located on the network.


  • To facilitate the use of application compatibility scripts, use the same virtual drive letter for all user home directory redirection points. The first time you run an application compatibility script on a server, the server prompts you to set the drive letter that references the root of the user home directory. This drive letter is used for all subsequent application compatibility scripts. For terminal server farms, it is essential that the same drive letter be used on all the servers within the farm.

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