[gptalk] Re: Do I need a custom adm, and/or where is the setting in the regsitry

  • From: "Nelson, Jamie" <Jamie.Nelson@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <gptalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2008 08:42:03 -0500

Eh, that was only a bit longer than usual. J Good post though. I'll
remember to reference this one for future "Roaming Profile" questions.


Jamie Nelson | Operations Consultant | BI&T Infrastructure-Intel | Devon
Energy Corporation | Work: 405.552.8054 | Mobile: 405.200.8088 |
http://www.dvn.com <http://www.dvn.com/> 


From: gptalk-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:gptalk-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Cruz, Jerome L
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2008 9:29 PM
To: gptalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [gptalk] Re: Do I need a custom adm, and/or where is the
setting in the regsitry


Hi Booker,


My answer is going to be a bit (okay, maybe a LOT) longer than the
usual. Hopefully others will see the things you can run into with
roaming profiles and not just assume the technology and it's support
system are a breeze to implement. Folks, "Roaming Profiles" are one of
those 'sounds easy' to do technologies that starts to eat all your time
unless you are ready for it.


Yes, you can update it by manually changing the ADM template (see MS KB
article # 290324). Funny that the article "applies to Vista" but doesn't
describe how to update the matching ADMX template (hmmm.. I'll have to
try that some time...or see if it's still an issue at all). Anyway, you
do need to understand some of the behaviors you might run into. As noted
in the "More Info" section of the article.



"If you increase the maximum profile size to greater that 30 MB, it may
take users longer to log on while the profile is loaded from the


That 'can' be true for a user that 'really' roams from box to box on a
daily basis. In practice, we found that our End Users tended to use the
"same device" from day-to-day. So in our case, the most pressing issues
began to be issues logging off at the end of their shift.


Okay, we did have some issues with users logging onto devices in local
Conference rooms...and experiencing long delays in getting to their
Desktop while their 'large profile' downloaded. And try traveling to an
office in a different city, logging onto your laptop in a Conf Room
(using your company's LAN). There are all the meeting attendees looking
at you and waiting for your presentation...for 20 minutes (or
longer!)...talk about ouch! The solution was to train users to switch
their profile to Local Mode 'before' leaving. We even gave them a
desktop utility to easily switch...of course, then they'd conveniently
'forget' to switch back to roaming mode when they returned. Yeah..


We expected that most users would have a profile way less than 20 MB and
set out initial limits that way (just so you know, we based this on a
scan of quite a few user profiles and 'most' were well within the limits
before we updated their systems from Windows 2000 to Windows XP...things
grow huh?). Additionally, we excluded a bunch of folders including the
user's My Documents  folder. We slowly discovered all the applications
that cause larger and larger profiles and had to exclude more and more
of them.


Example We had to talk to Google about their Google Earth application
(love that app by the way). They were loading their cache file (and yes,
it was just a single file) in the
C:\Docs&Settings\Users_Profile\Application Data\Google\Google Earth\...
folder and they didn't need to be placing it there. Their default cache
file size was 100 MB and a user can get there by just running their demo
tour a couple of times. All the user had to do was launch GE and the
cache file was updated. SO there's a 100 MB file to sync at logoff. More
recent versions of GE more correctly placed the cache file in the
C:\Docs&Settings\Users_Profile\Temporary Files\Application
Data\Google... folder tree. In the meantime, we were out of space (260
char limit at the time) in the GPO to Exclude folders, so instead we
wrote a custom ADM template to reset the Google Earth's cache to the
minimum value of 16 MB... and as you can see, there went our 20 MB limit
right out the door.


Don't even get me started on why Roaming Profiles 'sometimes' go into a
stupid state and only allow a user to access a temporary copy of a
profile. And WATCH OUT for your Help Center. Sometimes they are too
helpful (AND untrained). Consider this one. [EU - End User  HC - Help


EU: I need help...all my desktop shortcuts and documents are missing.

HC: Okay, do you have a Roaming Profile?  [Side note, we built a web
tool for our Help Center analysts to use to look this up and also
trained them in the Profile support scripts we developed. Watch as they
ignore all this. Also note that all End Users were given two full weeks
to start using a Data Backup tool for their system devices. Multiple
e-mails reminding them of this were sent out of this requirement. Sadly,
not all used it as you're about to find out.] I see you have a laptop.
[Oh, so the HC Tech finally start using their tools.]

EU: I think so... is that what caused this problem?

HC: Probably... You know that since you have a laptop, you really don't
need a roaming profile don't you? [Oh yeah, thanks for that HC Tech. You
haven't even looked at anything, have already diagnosed the problem, and
have just 'dissed' the IT department.] Can I have your permission to do
a remote takeover?

EU: Yes, please, I need my stuff for a meeting in twenty minutes.

HC: [Logs on...and wanders around the user's system.] Hmm, yes you do
have a roaming profile. I think the system threw you into a temporary
profile, but I can fix this for you... I did this kind of support at my
previous job. All I have to do is copy your files over into this profile
[into a "temporary" profile...what?... it's 'temporary...!!!!  What
about using our support scripts?] and then I'll just switch a few
registry entries around so the system thinks that this is your real
profile. Then you just need to reboot.. [WHAT... HC Techs Are NOT
allowed to access and change End User registry entries. NOT PROCESS! NOT
PROCESS! The HC tech "moves, not copies, the user's files, makes
registry changes, and then cleans up the "old" profile by deleting the
old one. Then goes to the profile server and 'deletes' the copy up there
so the EU can 'start cleanly'. I hope every IT person reading this is
screaming "No, No, No" by now.]  Okay, you can reboot now.

EU: Okay, well, it seems to be doing something. Okay I have my desktop
back... wait, all my shortcuts and documents are missing again. My
meeting is in 5 minutes. [So the user logged off and the system
'deleted' the temporary profile with all the files that the HC tech had
moved there. Since the HC Tech had "moved" the files, there was no
backup of them left on the device. Since we never roamed the Desktop in
the first place, those files weren't up on the profile server in the
first place, so not part of a server side data restoration from tape
would help. Now it gets better...or worse L.]

HC: Well, we can get the files back from the XXXXX tool [XXXXX = The
tool the user's were supplied with to backup their device data.]

EU: Is that that the tool those e-mails were talking about? Well, I
haven't had time to load and run it. Don't you know how busy some of us

HC: You haven't backed up your data? Ummm, well, I'm not sure we'll be
able to get it back for you then. I think I'm going to have to escalate
this to the IT Tech group.

EU: Now you wait just a minute...WHERE's MY STUFF? Don't you know that I
keep all my work data on my Desktop? That's two years worth of work and
I NEED IT BACK RIGHT NOW! I have a meeting with some of the Company's
directors... [Have we had enough now? Let's just say that you've GOT to
have the HC staff trained to follow process and in whatever they do...
"First Do No Harm"... And sadly, no, I didn't make this up. BY the time
we were called to assist, a bunch of folks had tried all sorts of
things..we immediately attempted to utilize some undelete utilities, but
the damage was done and we were not able to recover anything significant
for the End User...sigh. You can expect many IT managers heard an earful
on this one.  And just in case you don't know... ~ 95% of these kinds of
issues are resolved by a simple reboot-which by the way was fully
documented in the HC support scripts we provided.]


Moving on, how about profile server storage and access issues? We had
40,000+ roaming users. In a population like that, quite a few had VERY
large (100+ MB) profiles whose logoffs were taking 30-40 minutes at the
end of the day. Most users profiles were taking 2-7 minutes to perform a
logoff and profile sync until we were able to optimize the traffic and
hardware resources. The IT department was NOT very popular for awhile.
Imagine each server having to handling the logoff profile sync for 4,000
- 6,000 users within a ten minute timeframe...and we had multiple
"dedicated" roaming profile servers...and of course they were all on the
same company network LAN. That'd be a Time/Date stamp lookup of
approximately 5,000 users times of an average 3,500 files = an access of
17.5 million files all within about 10 minutes, for each profile server.
And then copying up the files that needed to be updated... Wow! Disk
Queing Perf counters were easily in the 5 - 10 range (though at one
point we actually recorded some in the mid-thirties.. WAY BIG Ouch...
Most Server Admins will go into PANIC mode if they see Disk Queues
higher than '2' (yes..only two)! We eventually tuned it back down to
below that in general.


For each server setup, we used servers with 2 GB RAM in 2 node clusters,
Fibre-channel Controllers each with hardware buffers of 256 MB all set
to 100% Write mode (obviously caching Reads is worthless with each user
having their own files), RAID 5 on the hard disk drives (20 drives with
460 GB available on each-the amount of disk space was almost never an
issue), and Gigabit network connectivity. Needless to say, these were
some significantly powerful boxes. And don't forget the possible impact
of taking one cluster down for maintenance. That can easily cause any
accessing user account to switch to a temporary profile on their local
device and the Help Centers calls start pouring in.


Very few folks have to support implementations of such scale, but there
it is.



*         To support any deployments, go 'slowly' and be ready to help
your "Help Center" analysts so that they can in turn help the End Users.

*         And by the way, laptop users need their data backed up even
more than a desktop user. Laptop users will say that they already roam
because they have a laptop. That isn't the point. Most any hardware
maintenance group will tell you that laptops have higher maintenance

*         As you ramp up profiles on a server, watch your Perf Counters
VERY closely. We found out that once you start to hit the limits of the
hardware, the bad perf numbers increase exponentially, not linearly.

*         Monitor your Performance metrics.

*         Deploy Microsoft's UPHClean to all Win2K and WinXP devices
(it's built into Vista...yea!).

*         If possible for 'any' Roaming Profile deployment, spread the
load to multiple servers. In case of a power outage in the middle of the
day, just watch every single user try to log back on at the same time
off a single server. If that load isn't spread across multiple

*         Deploy Anti-virus to the desktops and seriously consider
turning it 'off' for the profile server share folders (hey, it's the
same data that was just on the PC and just got scanned there). That
helps with server performance tuning. [Besides, we were starting weekly
scans on Friday night and they were still running in the middle of the
day on Monday...whew.)

*         Watch out especially for Java application folders...usually
the applications that use them are coded by Java developers who are less
familiar with Windows profiles and boy do they tend to 'load up' the

*         User Profile data is NOT like other server storage data. It's
typically a few big files and then literally thousands of 1KB - 2 KB
files. (Remember about that 17.5 million file number? See above...).
Most Server Admins have 'no experience' tuning servers to support this
kind of data and will use the same process thinking to support a design
for it. Your deployment team needs throw out all preconception and make
sure everyone starts from scratch. 

*         Test out your server data restoration processes and repeat
testing them on a regular basis.

*         Monitor your Performance metrics.

*         Did I mention "Monitor your Performance metrics"? Pilot
testing cannot be used as 'the' expectation. We had  400 pilot users on
a single server whose logoff time increased by about 30 seconds. When we
ramped up for production and got to about 1,000 users on the

*         Go get and read Darren and Derek's (Melber) GPO book as well
as Jeremy Moskowitz'es books on GPO's/Managed Desktops and read all you
can about the various Roaming Profile scenarios.


GPOs? We'll there's actually not too many.

*         Use the 'Add the Administrators security group to roaming user
profiles' setting

*         We set the "Timeout for dialog boxes" setting to 1 second (the
minimum you can set it too. BTW: If you set it to '0', the messages stay
visible until the user explicitly clicks it off...so '1's the ticket to
set). This minimizes calls to the Help Center for stuff the User would
click OK on anyway. And if the user "has" a problem, the data is logged
in the App Event log for the Help Center to find anyway.

*         We turned on Verbose UserEnv logging for all clients for
debugging purposes, used tools to gather them from time to time, and
wrote some parsers to extract certain types of data. The folks at
SysProsoft have a 'free' and handy utility to look at individual UserEnv
log files called: Policy Log Reporter

*         Control the "Exclude directories in roaming profile setting"
to exclude necessary folders. Here were some (not all) of ours:

Desktop;My Documents;Recent;Application Data\Adobe;Application
Data\AutoDesk;Application Data\Macromedia;Application
Data\Microsoft\MSDAIPP;Application Data\Microsoft\Clip
Organizer;Application Data\Roxio;Documents

*         If you limit the size of profiles, then consider updating the
text of the popup message with the "Limit Profile Size" setting and also
redirect the users to local resources (like your Help Center).

*         Consider controlling the "Prohibit User from manually
redirecting Profile Folders" setting.


So, can you successfully deploy Roaming Profiles to either small,
medium, or large numbers of End Users? Sure, but be prepared to (1) go
slowly, (2) spend some significant time supporting it (in terms of both
hardware and personal time)...and more the larger numbers you go for,
and (3) have some fun, it's a learning experience. It's a great feeling
when you see the light come on for an End User who has almost everything
back after logging onto a repaired system (after a system crash and
reload). It 'can' and 'is' worth it.




From: gptalk-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:gptalk-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Booker.Washington@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2008 3:07 PM
To: gptalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [gptalk] Do I need a custom adm, and/or where is the setting in
the regsitry


For my labs, I have set the limit profile size to its maximum of
30000kb.  I want to raise it, but it gives me the error message that
30000kb is the max.  Can I override the max with a custom adm, and/or
where is that limit found in the registry.  If I make the change t
osomething higher than 30000kb will it even be recognized by policy?





Booker T. Washington III

Systems Support Specialist


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