Roaming user profiles have gone wrong

Microsoft Windows server 2003 r2 standar...
January 22, 2010 at 16:23:20
Specs: Windows 2003 R2 Server, XP clients, 2000 clients
I work for a very small school. We have a Dell server running Windows 2003. Everything was just peachy until we were gone for Christmas break. After break, we started having problems with our user profiles. Moar users (like 50+ out of 55) get a message that the roaming profile is not available, they will be logged on with the local profile. Then when it can't find a local profile, they get a message about being logged on with a temporary profile and it logs them on but none of their stuff is there. Ironically, however, it knows their full name (i.e. the name listed in their network profile, not just their user name) and they can browse the network fileserver. If I rename the profile and let the server create a new profile it intermittently works or will let them log on but then when they log off they get a message that the updates can't be copied to the roaming profile. The messages indicate that it has to do with security settings on the file shares. This cannot be the case. The settings have not changed since the day I setup the server and they worked for the 5 months prior to school being closed for 2 weeks for Christmas.

Several other users have had their accounts log them on and then immediately log them off. It happens no matter what client computer they use. I have deleted their profiles and user accounts and recreated them and it still happens.

There don't seem to be any differences in the accounts of those users who it works for and those that don't and nothing was changed on the server prior to any of these things happening.

Any clues to what is going on would be greatly appreciated. We are behind a firewall with intrusion/anti-virus/etc. prevention so virus/malware/spyware doesn't seem like a likely scenario but it is possible.

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January 25, 2010 at 04:59:54
Sounds like the logon process finds the user in the AD but that there is something wrong with the profiles. Network-wise it seems to be right though.

Even though you're sure nothing has changed on the server, check permissions on the folders that contain the profiles. Also check if you can browse into them (as a basic user) and add / delete / change files to make sure it really works.

If the permission settings is ok then I'd check for hardware issues... normally when everything works fine one day and the next nothing works at all I usually check hardware parallell to normal troubleshooting. You never know these days, harddrives just aren't what they used to be. And it never hurts to check.

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January 25, 2010 at 05:26:05
Hardware would be a likely suspect IF it didn't affect every single client computer. It doesn't matter where the user tries to logon from, they can't get their roaming profile.

I spent the weekend digging around in the profiles folder and here is what I have found. There are apparently files in most of the user profiles that are locked somehow by something because when I try to delete the profiles folder I can't. I can't rename or move it either. When I try to delete the profile folders of user that are having problems, I can't delete those either. This also happened when I created a default user profile for first time logon. After one use, something in the folder is locked and I can't delete the folder or modify it.

I also noticed in my backup log that one user in particular had an incremental backup occur over the weekend for some of the application settings files in his profile. The reason this is alarming is because that user hasn't been logged for over a week and the modified dates on the files is from a week ago. So if it hasn't changed in a week and backups have been happening every day all week, it should have already been backed up and no longer part of the set until it changes. The files this is happening to are user OpenOffice application settings files. It seems to only be for this one particular user but reading through 100+ pages of log files is taking up precious time that I could be spending fixing the problem. But I'm wondering if there is something not right about the OpenOffice software. Of course that doesn't explain why about a dozen users have had no problems at all, again no matter what client machine they use.

I've ended up recreating the profiles in a new folder. I can't copy the old ones because if I do that they don't work--even if all I do is copy a few of the files in Favorites or on the Desktop. However, I would like to know what went wrong so I can prevent it in the future or know how to fix it in the future.

Gonna run a complete virus/malware/spyware scan today just in case and then try a file/folder unlocker.

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January 26, 2010 at 06:20:52
I meant look for hardware issues on the server actually... that would explain why it affects everyone. But as I said, it's a longshot. Never hurts to check though. But leave that for now. It doesn't feel like that's your problem.

Profiles contain hidden files and can be hard to remove sometimes. It's usually the case with the ntuser.dat file for example. That doesn't necessarily mean you have a problem.

That the backup files were modified when the user wasn't logged on I see as natural too. Backup programs often run as a service and can take backups even when none is logged on. And to know what files has been changed since last backup, the program flags all files as backed up, and when a file changes (for example if I edit the file and save it) it looses the flag. That way, at the next incremental backup, the program knows what files to grab since they've changed since last backup. So that doesn't necessarily equal a problem either.

I would suggest exactly what you did. Start fresh. Create new profiles and copy the important files (My Documents, Desktop etc) over to the new profile.

What caused it is a difficult question. But try everything from a virus scan to harddrive test just to see if there might be anything traceable.

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