Use Chrome Browser with Roaming User Profiles
For administrators who manage Chrome Browser on Windows for a business or school.
You can let Microsoft® Windows® users in your organization create a single Chrome Browser profile and reuse it on each computer they need for work or school. To allow roaming profiles, you turn on Roaming User Profiles for these users.
When a user signs in to Windows on a computer on your network, Windows copies information from the user’s roaming user profile to their local computer. When they start Chrome, Chrome uses their roaming profile to update the local Chrome profile.
A user’s roaming profile contains bookmarks, autofill data, passwords, some browsing history, browser preferences, and installed extensions. It doesn’t contain information about cookies, browsing sessions, cached or downloaded files, local browser instance data, or other transient data.
Before you begin
Using Roaming User Profiles changes how your users can use Chrome Browser. For example, a user can’t run Chrome Browser sessions on two machines simultaneously. And they can’t synchronize their profiles with Chrome sync.
Before you turn on Roaming User Profiles, be aware of all the consequences listed in What to tell your users.
Turn on Roaming User Profiles
To turn on the roaming profile option in Chrome Browser, choose an option:
- Use the
--enable-local-sync-backendcommand line flag. For details, see the instructions for Chrome Browser flags.
- Enable the RoamingProfileSupportEnabled policy
When you turn on roaming profile support, your users can’t use Chrome cloud sync.
Check if a device uses roaming profiles (optional)
To see if a Windows computer is using Roaming User Profiles, enter chrome://sync-internals in the browser window on that computer. On the About page, under Local state, find Local Sync Backend Enabled. If it’s true, then Roaming User Profiles is enabled. Local Backend Path shows the location of the roaming profile file.
Change roaming profile file location (optional)
Information for each user’s roaming profile is kept in a file named profile.pb. By default, this file is located in %APPDATA%/Google/Chrome.
If you change or redirect the location of this file, be aware of possible effects on synchronization or simultaneous Chrome Browser sessions. See What to tell your users, below.
To set a different location for profile.pb, choose an option:
- Use the Chrome command line flag
- Set the RoamingProfileLocation policy. You can use any of the supported path variables.
Using Roaming User Profiles can affect your users' experience with Chrome in ways they might not expect.
If a user has a big profile with tens of thousands of bookmarks, autofill data, or extensions, Chrome might consume more memory and run slower.
If a user has more than one Chrome Browser profile, Roaming User Profiles might not work properly. We recommend that each user use a single Chrome Browser profile.
When Chrome maps a user’s profiles to roaming profiles, it maps them in the same order they were created on each computer. If two different profiles, such as work and private, are created in a different order on different computers, they will not be mapped correctly.
If the user accidentally deletes or corrupts the Roaming User Profiles file profile.pb, Chrome Browser will not lose the local Chrome profile data. But any profile changes the user makes afterwards will not synchronize to the roaming profile.
If you use the SyncDisabled policy, it overrides the RoamingProfileSupportEnabled policy. The local Chrome profile (if any) will not be updated from the roaming profile.
Running Chrome on multiple machines at a time
If your users are familiar with running Chrome Browser sessions simultaneously on multiple machines on your network, Roaming User Profiles can cause behavior they might not expect. We recommend that users never run simultaneous Chrome sessions when they use Roaming User Profiles.
A user might want to run Chrome Browser simultaneously on multiple machines on your organization’s network. But if they use Roaming User Profiles, profile changes they make in one Chrome session will not sync with other sessions. So we recommend never running simultaneous Chrome sessions when you use Roaming User Profiles.
For example, a user might run Chrome on machine A and machine B at the same time. When the user makes a profile change on machine A, the roaming profile gets updated. But Chrome does not automatically sync the change to the profile on machine B. So if the user makes a different change to their profile on machine B, the roaming profile gets updated with that change, and the first change get overwritten.
Your users might not expect that behavior. When running Chrome without Roaming User Profiles, users can make profile changes in one session and see them synchronized with the other sessions. But while RoamingProfileSupportEnabled is enabled, Chrome does not sync between running sessions.
If your organization uses folder redirection for the folder containing profile.pb, then a user can't start a Chrome session on more than one machine at a time. Roaming User Profiles depends on creating and locking a file profile.pb for each session. If you use folder redirection for %APPDATA%/Google/Chrome (or for the folder you specified in the RoamingProfileLocation policy), then each Chrome session for the user will try to access the same profile.pb file. The user will be unable to start a second Chrome session on another machine until they close the session on the first machine.
Sync your account settings to use Chrome cloud sync instead of Roaming User Profiles