So what is Roaming in Windows 7 anyway?

On February 21, 2009, in Windows 7, by

I just posted this link in the Windows 7 forum and reminded myself of what a great document it is so I’ll post this here.  The issue was that someone didn’t know what Local, LocalLow and Roaming was and why they had to stick something in Roaming on Windows 7

The folder structure on Vista is the same.

This document has the best explanation I’ve found for what the three folder areas mean and how they are boundaries of data.

Windows Vista also has changed the Application Data folder structure. Previous user profiles did not logically sort data stored in the Application Data folder, making it difficult to distinguish data that belonged to the machine from data belonging to the user. Windows Vista addresses this issue by creating a single AppData folder under the user profile. The AppData folder contains three subfolders: Roaming, Local, and LocalLow.

Windows uses the Local and LocalLow folders for application data that does not roam with the user. Usually this data is either machine specific or too large to roam. The AppData\Local folder in Windows Vista is the same as the Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data folder in Windows XP.

Windows uses the Roaming folder for application specific data, such as custom dictionaries, which are machine independent and should roam with the user profile. The AppData\Roaming folder in Windows Vista is the same as the Documents and Settings\username\Application Data folder in Windows XP.



4 Responses to So what is Roaming in Windows 7 anyway?

  1. indy says:

    Wish it had never changed.

    NT4: c:\winnt\profiles

    W2K/XP c:\documents and settings\

    Vista c:\users\ and a redirect for D&S that invalidates years of training and consistency.

    OK… enough. we get it MSFT, you have no idea what you are doing.

    and this ghetto change is one more reason we skipped Vista.

    Previously you could use explorer to copy a profile to another profile in a pinch with XP/W2K. You can’t do this with XP–>Vista, it breaks stuff. Now, you have to use CLI or the equally as buggy Windows Easy Transfer (which has yet to accurately migrate settings for me. Seems to ALWAYS miss Firefox profiles. And IT SUSPENDS/HIBERNATES if you don’t babysit it which you always must do since profiles take a long time to migrate.


  2. bradley says:

    More like an example of IT curmudgeons that refuse to learn new things 😉

    That ghetto change is in Windows 7. And Windows 2008. So either get used to it or move to a new OS and get used to even more.

  3. indy says:

    Oh I will “learn it.” I just don’t see why I have to be Microsoft’s lapdog when they deem it necessarily. I imagine if Windows 7 changed profiles to c:\fairyland you would roll over and take it.

    Yes we can learn how to do these things, yes they break things. No we don’t have to change for change’s sake. Most people easily worked around the differences between local settings and application data a decade ago?

    How about the new user to Vista, when they go to “Application data” as they are used to in Explorer, and get a big fat error message that tells them nothing?

    Windows easy transfer: Allows machines to go into standby/sleep/hibernate during the transfer:fact. You must either disable suspend/sleep/hibernate on both systems or you will not have a complete transfer.

    “Get used to it.”

    The attitude of “This is the way MS wants it, regardless of customer demands,” is rather dangerous one to take, wouldn’t you think?

    My customers are who I follow, not Microsoft. It always has been, and always will be that way.

  4. bradley says:

    Read the document I have linked. There’s a very logical reason why they did this. If you listened to some pundits Microsoft should chuck the registry as well.

    Customers demanded security too. Again, read the document and you’ll understand it was done for that.

    The ‘stub’ location in Explorer is for the transition to standard user. Again, once you take a little bit of time to understand the reasons, it makes sense.