Default User Profiles in XP

One of the things I work with quite often is assisting clients in creating images of their workstations/laptops to deploy through Altiris Deployment Solution.  Most of the work in imaging involves creating the “perfect” image to deploy. Once all the updates, software, etc. is installed, you probably want to have a profile that all users get on their initial logon. This is referred to as the “Default User Profile,” and in XP it is usually located at C:\Documents and Settings\Default User. If a user has not logged onto the computer before, it will take initial settings from this folder unless other arrangements have been made on your network.

The steps that I use to accomplish this are as follows:

  • Add all your extra software to the workstation that all users will use. Some items we generally add are Office, Quicktime, Real Player or an alternative, a free PDF creator, Adobe Reader, Shockwave, Flash, and additional web browsers if desired.
  • Create a user in Active Directory in an OU (Organizational Unit) that has no Group Policies applied to it other than what you have at the top domain level (which are hopefully few).
  • Logon to this base machine with the domain administrator account. Add the above created user to the Local Administrators Group. Do this by:
    • Right click “My Computer” and select “Manage.”
    • In the left pane, expand the “Local Users and Groups,” and then click on “Groups.”
    • In the right pane, double-click on “Administrators.”
    • Click on the “Add..” button and the bottom. Below is a picture that should give you an idea of what you need to look for. It is a screenshot from Windows 7 computer, but most of the info is the same.

      Add user to local administrators group

    • After you click on “Add…” a dialog box appears where you can type in the username you want to add to the Administrators group. Note that the  “From this location:” box at the top should show your domain name.
  • Now log off the computer and  then logon with the newly created account. It will create a base profile with the original Default User Profile that is on the computer.
  • Make changes and adjustments to how you want the profile to be for your users. Keep it basic as adding things like mapped drivers, printers, links etc. can be accomplished with Group Policies and logon scripts.  Some recommendations:
    • Go to Control Panel and make adjustments in the Power Settings. You may need to change the Control Panel View to Classic Settings to get this applet.
    • Configure wallpaper/background. I like to set it to “None” and add wallpaper through Group Policies.
    • Set an initial Home Page in Internet Explorer. This can be accomplished with Group Policies, but then it cannot be changed, so if you want your users to have the option to change, you may want to set the homepage initially.
    • Set task bar to “Quick Launch” and add shortcuts you wish here. You will need to unlock the taskbar, extend the range and lock it again so several shortcuts can be added. Many of the clients I work with like to add the Office Program shortcuts such as Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.
  • Reboot the computer and logon as the Domain Admin.
  • Make sure the option to show hidden files is enabled.
    • Double-click on “My Computer” and then select “Tools” from the menu bar and then “Folder Options….”
    • Click on the “View” tab and select the option to “Show Hidden Files and Folders.”
  • Next we will copy the profile of the user you configured to the Default User folder.
    • Right click on “My Computer” and select “Properties.” Click on the “Advanced” tab and then on the “Settings” button under “User Profiles.”

      Click on "Settings" under "User Profiles"

    • In the “User Profiles” box, click on the profile for the user you configured as noted above and then click on the “Copy To…” button.

      Click on profile you configured and then "Copy To.."

      In the “Copy To” box, click on “Browse” button and navigate to C:\Documents and Settings\Default User.” (Note that if you did not enable the option to show hidden files and folders as noted above, this folder will not be visible). Next click on the “Change” button under “Permitted to Use.” Type in “Everyone.” This is done so all users logging on for the first time will be able to use the Default User profile.

      Next click on “OK.” A warning will appear about copying over the profile. Click on “Yes/OK” and proceed to complete the copy.

      You may now proceed to upload your image. All users should get this new profile.

      A few items to note when creating images that I have encountered:

      * Make sure the Default User has no additional Group Policies on the OU it is in.

      *Make sure the computer you are using is not in an OU with additional Group Policies. Put it in the generic “Computers” folder in Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC).

      * Do NOT EDIT the Default Domain and the Default Domain Controller Policies. If something needs to be changed, make a new policy and move it up in the list so it is applied last. This could be a post of its own, but I have run into issues in imaging when changes have been made here that affect all users/computers, so am mentioning it as a reminder.

      * There are other ways of handling the Default User, but this has worked for me. Some additional info can be found in the links below:

      Petri IT Knowledgebase

      Microsoft Support – Customize Default Profile

      *Windows 7 and Vista profiles are configured differently and will be another post.


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