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Designing Highly Managed Desktops

Updated: March 28, 2003

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

Typically, a highly managed desktop is the most appropriate workstation configuration for users in an office environment. Users’ personal files are cached locally, so they are available if a server becomes unavailable. Authoritative versions of the files are retained on central servers, so backup and physical security are easier to protect. The user’s personal configuration and customizations are stored on central servers, so replacing a workstation does not alter a user’s computing environment. Also, users can receive their own personal computing environment on another user’s workstation. After the visiting user logs off, and the regular user logs on, the regular user’s personal computing environment is restored. To implement this process, you must configure Roaming User Profiles, Folder Redirection, Offline Files, and server disk quotas.

To create highly managed desktops, perform the following tasks:

  • Set up Folder Redirection to redirect My Documents to a shared folder on the network.

  • Set up Roaming User Profiles for users who use multiple computers so that their settings follow them to any computer they use. For more information about implementing roaming user profiles, see "Using roaming user profiles" in Help and Support Center for Windows Server 2003.

  • Set up Offline Files to minimize vulnerability to network status inherent in redirected folders. Designated files are cached locally to ensure that in the event of network disconnection, users can continue to work on these important files. For more information about using Offline Files to minimize vulnerability to network status, see "Configuring Offline Files" later in this chapter.

  • Set up Disk Quotas on the servers that contain redirected folders so that individual users cannot use too much disk space.

  • To remove cached versions of roaming profiles when the users log off, apply the Delete cached copies of roaming profiles policy setting. This policy setting is available in the Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\User Profiles node of the Group Policy Object Editor.

  • Make applications available to users by using Group Policy–based software management to assign or publish applications to users. You can also use Microsoft Systems Management Server to manage software if your organization is medium or large, if your users run operating systems earlier than Microsoft® Windows® 2000 Professional, or if you require more advanced capabilities for planning, distributing, and tracking software.

    For more information about managing software, see "Deploying a Managed Software Environment" in this book.

    For more information about Systems Management Server, see the SMS Product Information link on the Web Resources page at

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