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User Profiles

User profiles contain all the information that the computer needs to personalize your system's look and feel. Your user profile contains your desktop icons, shortcuts, personalized Start menu, and your personal file folders such as My Documents and My Pictures. The profile also contains your network settings, network printer definitions, and desktop settings, which are stored in a Registry file named NTUSER.DAT. This file is accessed as part of the Windows Registry when you are logged in.

Normally, user profiles are stored under C:\Documents and Settings, in folders with the same name as the user account. For example, the user profile for my account is stored in C:\Documents and Settings\bknittel. When accounts are deleted and recreated, when Windows is reinstalled, or when users log on to domain accounts with the same name as local accounts, Windows may append something to the user name—usually the name of the local computer, the domain, and/or a number.


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