Using a Snapin to update

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I hadn't explored Snapins very much, but it recently occurred to me that they might help me deploy changes to the user profile on our lab computers. I thought I would share the way I got it to work.

A little background: Our school's computer lab runs Windows XP in a workgroup environment. I have been using mandatory profiles for a while to protect profile settings from being altered by users. There is a useful tutorial on mandatory profiles in Windows here: [1]. The process is a bit tricky, but the main change to a profile is renaming its ntuser.dat to (ntuser.dat is a hidden system file that resides in the user's profile and contains registry data).

I wanted to be able to place a new version of in a read-only share on our NAS and push that file out to the clients in the lab. This is much faster than using FOG to deploy a new image every time I update a user profile.

First, I wrote a batch file to do this. I used xcopy <> because it can handle hidden files. Here is the content of that file:

xcopy /q /y /h "\\path\to\" "c:\documents and settings\UserName\" 

Note that using the /h flag allows copying hidden files and the /y flag suppresses prompting to confirm that you want to overwrite an existing destination file. The /q flag suppresses the display of xcopy messages and I am not sure whether it was necessary.

Next, I used a freeware tool called "Bat To EXE" [2] to convert the batch file to an executable. B2E has an option to create a "Console Application" or a "Ghost Application." I chose the Ghost option.

Next, I used FOG's Snapin page to upload the EXE. I gave it a name, browsed to and uploaded the EXE and checked 'Reboot after install'.

Next, I assigned that Snapin to a test computer (edit the host in 'Host Management') and then chose 'Deploy Snapins' under 'Task Management'.

The computer rebooted after a few minutes and when I logged on to the host I found that the profile had been successfully updated.

Please note that messing with ntuser files is potentially dangerous if you don't back them up first. My batch file makes no provision for backing the file up as part of the script, so that would be a useful addition.