Deleting Windows Profiles

Written by James Pocock:

There have been a few problems recently with local copies of roaming profiles being incorrectly deleted. The following procedure should be followed when deleting a profile.

Removing the Local copy of the profile

A common mistake is to simply logon to the local machine as an administrator and delete the users Profile from C:\Users or C:\Documents and Settings.

However, deleting only the local folder does not remove some key registry settings. While XP is usually quite forgiving of this Windows Vista is not and a profile which has been deleted in this fashion will never function correctly on the machine until it is rebuilt.

The profile should be fully deleted from the local system by using the User Profile settings option in System Properties.

In Windows XP:

System Properties > Advanced Tab > User Profiles > Settings

In Windows Vista:

System Properties > Advanced System Settings > Advanced Tab > User Profiles > Settings

Profile 1

Highlight and delete the profile you wish to remove (you may need to reboot first).

Profile 1

Finally you can manually remove any residual folders from C:\Users or C:\Documents and Settings.

Remove the Server Copy of the Profile.

Within the CAMPUS network only the user and server administrators have permissions to remove a profile. There are two ways to go about this.

Map a drive to the folder above the users remote profile folder with the user using their user account. You can find out the path by using CAMA.

Alternatively you can request this process is performed by ISS by emailing

Rename the folder as zap.username. This is important because The CAMPUS profile servers have run scheduled tasks which remove folders prefixed with zap. each morning at 06:30. This allows some time to retrieve files from the old profile. More importantly, If the old profiles are not deleted they will count against the users quota.

This entry was posted in FileStore, Profiles, Vista by James. Bookmark the permalink.

About James

I am an Infrastructure Systems Administrator in the Infrastructure Systems Group (ISG) within ISS. We are responsible for a number of the core services which support the IT Infrastructure of the University including Active Directory, Exchange, DNS, Central Filestore, VMware and SQL. I hold number of current Microsoft Certifications and am also a Symantec Certified Specialist (Netbackup)

2 thoughts on “Deleting Windows Profiles

  1. So if a profile is corrupt and needs to be completely reset what is the correct sequence?

    1) Rename cameo profile
    2) Remove local copy with control panel as described
    3) Remove residual folder under C:Documents and Settings

    Is this the best sequence, or is something different preferable?

  2. Hi Chris

    Yes that order would be fine although 1 and 2 are interchangeable. You just need to take care not to logoff when using the corrupt profile after ‘zapping’ the server copy as this will send up a copy of the corrupt profile which will be downloaded next time.

    As such you need to be logged in as another user and map the drive if you are going to zap at your end.


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