Monday, October 24, 2011

Modify Windows 7 Default Profile

Many organizations are still in the process of figuring out Windows 7 deployment. One thing that can come into play with a new Windows 7 deployment is the default profile. When a user logs on to Windows 7 for the first time their profile is created from the default profile. If the default profile is configured as you want it to be for the users then there is not need to modify the user profile after log on. Sounds good right?

The problem with modifying the default profile as a method of standardizing user profiles is maintenance. After desktop computers have been deployed it is very awkward to modify the default profile. The officially supported method of configuring the default profiles is:
  1. Create a blank install of Windows 7
  2. Install applications
  3. Log on as a local administrator and customize the profile
  4. Sysprep the system using an unattend.txt file with the copyprofile tag
  5. Take image of sysprepped system and deploy
Note: When you run sysprep, ensure that there is only one administrative user on the system. If there are multiple administrative users there is no way to guarantee that the correct administrative user is selected for the profile copy.
As you can see, this method is ok for new systems, but not already deployed systems. You can manually copy files and modify files in the default profile. You can also edit the ntuser.dat registry file that is part of the default profile, but it is pretty awkward. Also, modifying the default profile does not modify the profile of any existing user profiles.

The end solution is to avoid using default profiles as much as possible for configuration. Instead use Group Policy to push out as much of the configuration as you can. Group Policy can push out files, folders, and registry keys. However, you'll need to put some extra time into learning how to do it.

Here is a link to more discussion on how to do the sysprep and also how to edit the default user registry files:

1 comment:

  1. Forensits FREE defprof tool works before or after imaging, and keeps taskbar and other settings.