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USV?  What is that?  Windows user state virtualization (USV) is a collection of Microsoft technologies that enables synchronization of user state information from individual computers to a central location. Centralized management and storage of user state is desirable because it provides users with mobility and flexibility while helping IT departments manage costs and compliance.

Some careful consideration and planning needs to go into any USV strategy.  Factors like different operating system versions, different applications and platform architectures, security, backup, network and different user needs all have implications on USV working.  As a result, guidance (like this) as well as controlled testing and rollouts need to be followed.

This Solution Accelerator guide describes a scenario assessment process that helps IT pros understand USV requirements, and how to map them to appropriate USV technologies. It also explains real-world caveats and considerations that might apply so IT pros can develop realistic strategies for their organizations.

This guide focuses on the following three Windows USV technologies:

  • Folder Redirection (FR)
  • Offline Files (OF)
  • Roaming User Profiles (RUP)

Is USV a good idea?

It depends, but largely yes.  By centralizing the storage of user state that typically resides on users’ computers, USV simplifies backup and management of business-critical data; when the central storage is backed up, the user state that was synchronized from user’s computers is also backed up. Centralized management of user state also yields the following benefits:

  • The ability to work from different computers. Centralized data and settings can be synchronized and cached locally across different computers, thereby providing users with flexibility and mobility options that can help them be more productive.
  • The ability to work when disconnected from the organization’s network. USV technologies automatically and seamlessly cache local updates to user data and settings so as to synchronize them with the central store when network connectivity is reestablished.
  • Faster and simpler user migration. USV technologies enable the dynamic composition of user state on new computers over the network and thereby simplify migration.
  • Recovery from disaster scenarios and when hard disks fail or computers are lost or stolen. Centralized data and settings that are regularly backed up can be restored to new hard disks, thereby reducing the time required for organizations and users to become productive again.

Some resources for you:

me15Jeff Wettlaufer
Sr Technical Product Manager
System Center, Management and Security Division
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