Best practices for managing user profiles

When IT establishes user profiles for virtual desktops, it has several profile options. If users work from multiple endpoints, for example, IT should use roaming user profiles.

When it comes to the virtual desktop user experience, IT often faces difficult decisions that pit user customization against performance.

Managing user profiles provides IT with a means to customize the desktop without storing persistent desktops on the back-end infrastructure, allowing them to store desktop configurations, application permissions, local user data and more.

IT has many options for customizing its user profile management program, but this freedom can make the process overwhelming.

What are the different profile types?

When users make a change to their profile, in most cases, the desktop saves the changes in a network share that holds all of the users' profile data, saving the user from stressing about losing local files, desktop settings and more. Different profile types provide IT with several options for managing user profiles in specific use cases.

IT pros who want to deploy the exact same desktop image to certain user groups every time should opt for mandatory profiles, a profile type that allows IT to deploy a standard desktop image users cannot change.

If users consistently log into their virtual desktops on multiple devices, then IT should consider roaming user profiles that can be deployed across different devices. This option provides more mobility than the local user profile, which stores data directly on the device. IT cannot easily transfer data from a local profile to different devices users access.

If users regularly log on to different devices, roaming profiles can dramatically improve the end-user experience by delivering a personalized virtual desktop across multiple devices and locations. However, if users typically work from the same device, then the drawbacks of local profiles are less relevant.

If none of these options sound ideal, IT can create its own mix of local and network-based storage and determine customization levels using hybrid profiles.

How and when should IT employ user profile management?

With user profile management, IT can deliver and manage user resources on various devices, including laptops, PCs and mobile devices. Each user has his own profile stored on a company network, and when he makes any changes on the desktop, such as changing the display settings, the profile saves the changes for the user's next logon. User profiles help IT provide a consistent virtual desktop experience by allowing users to customize their desktops.

In some use cases, IT may not want to spend time managing user profiles at all.

An organization managing user profiles might run into network performance issues if IT uses roaming profiles because of the amount of user profile data and competition for virtual resources. The network may deliver hundreds or thousands of virtual desktops and roaming profile data at the same time, which can cause slow logon times and, in some cases, application performance issues. To prevent this, IT must properly provision its virtual resources and trim down the size of user profiles whenever possible.

In some use cases, IT may not want to spend time managing user profiles at all. Organizations with no available network storage and thin clients do not have anywhere to store user profiles. IT can delete user profiles in a nonpersistent desktop deployment to minimize desktop storage space.

What are some user profile management products?

The added personalization user profiles bring comes at a cost. Whether IT stores the profiles in each device or in network storage, the profiles take up space and can become bloated with nonessential data. To reduce this bloat and prevent it from occurring, IT pros should consider user profile management tools that allow them to customize profile policies, such as storage capacity limits, and set app permissions and configurations.

Ivanti's User Environment Manager enables managing user profiles across the organization from a single console. Environment Manager's rollback feature allows IT to override profiles and reset them to their original form, which IT can use for profiles that have accumulated excess data over the years or for users who have left the organization.

Liquidware's ProfileUnity tool provides scalability with a maximum of 10,000 profiles per interface. Like most tools on the market, it supports user group and individual profile deployments. ProfileUnity integrates with Microsoft Azure cloud storage to store profiles, so the profiles are easy to convert to other Microsoft-friendly app and desktop deployment products and services.

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