What we are comparing below is the structure of a user's local profile on XP, with the same local profile on Vista. As you move from XP to Vista, so Microsoft has made changes in layout of personal
folders. Vista has new locations for the storage of Documents, Local Settings and AppData.
The biggest change is that XP's Document and Settings folder has been moved in
Vista to a folder called Users.
In terms of 'need to know', all depends whether you are a user who has lost their files (see screenshot below), or a developer planning to save your program's settings in a user's profile.
It often helps to have two people explain the same structure, and here is
a view kindly sent in by Richard.
The key to understanding this folder structure is to focus on the (My)
Documents folder. When you look in XP, under
My Documents, you see My Music, My Pictures and My Videos. In Vista,
those other "My" folders that were under My Documents in XP, are now one
level higher. [It would have helped if Guy had expanded the 'guyt's
Documents' folder in the above screenshot.]
Problems arise when a Vista user wants to wipe their data; unlike in XP, they can't
just grab "Documents". Now instead, they MUST grab
Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, which are one level higher in the tree
than they were in XP.
Another source of irritation is that you cannot double click the
"shortcut" links. Because they are symbolic links or junction points
you are DENIED access.
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In Vista, the biggest change in the arrangement of a user's settings is the creation of the AppData folder. Furthermore, this AppData folder has three subfolders,
Local, LocalLow and Roaming. As with Local Settings, a folder called Application Data exists in Vista for backwards compatibility with XP.
If you look closely at the icons under the Users folder,
you will notice that some subfolders have a shortcut arrow. These arrows indicate a Junction point or Symbolic link. For ordinary mortals stick with the idea that these folders represent shortcuts, for example,
the 'All Users'
settings are now actually stored here --> C:\ProgramData. As far as Microsoft's technical explanation of Junction Points and Symbolic links, it was a case of 'Guy is reading, but Guy is not understanding'.
does like is practical investigation, therefore I challenge you to try this:
Launch a cmd prompt.
Type: cd c\users
Now for the coupe de grace: dir /ah
Observe <JUNCTION> and <SYMLINKD>
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The key phrase is, change in location. Vista has a new Users Folder which
replaces XP's Documents and Settings. Within the new folder structure, Vista has a folder called plain 'Documents', which replaces XP's 'My Documents' folder. The most important new subfolder is
AppData. Also to maintain backward compatibility,
Vista has shortcut links to the old XP folders such as Local Settings and Application Data.
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