Office 365 and Outlook Profile Disks are Everywhere – Choose Wisely (sponsored)

Office 365 and Outlook Profile Disks are Everywhere – Choose Wisely

 In 2014 Liquidware introduced the first profile disk solution for the Windows operating system, and RDSH environments.  A profile disk can basically be described as a separate virtual hard disk that contains the user profile information that gets mounted as the user logs on.  It’s like layering for profiles.

Yes, Microsoft had one earlier but only for RDSH environments. Liquidware introduced the first ProfileUnity ProfileDisk that would solve modern Office 365 caching and bloated profile problems for any connected Windows desktop including Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp. We quickly added the ability to keep the index between Windows sessions that may be non-persistent (think VDI use case). We’ve just streamlined the process further for Citrix XenApp and Microsoft RDSH environment in our latest release, ProfileUnity v6.7.

Others have followed, including VMware App Volumes with a user disk and Citrix App Layering is now experimenting with one as well.

What problem do profile disks claim to solve?

Profiles can become very large, either through bloat or by applications that require large caches to function as designed – i.e. Office 365 with Outlook caching. The Outlook Office 365 use case is a popular one as it saves your downloaded Outlook messages, contacts, and calendar to a local Windows profile in the AppData folder. The reason it saves to this location is to ensure the data is readily available and does not have to be downloaded or indexed again at every Outlook login, as this can be very time consuming.

This works great on a traditional desktop with a local hard drive but in a VDI or RDSH/XenApp environment, profiles are not always kept locally. The VDI machines may be non-persistent and the RDSH/XenApp server may have a profile management/UEM solution rather than a local profile. In this case, if you use a profile tool – such as Microsoft Roaming Profiles or Citrix UPM – the profile bits have to be retrieved at every single logon. Because files with these solutions are retrieved on a file-by-file basis, this can be very slow and essentially impossible for a user to be productive.

Profile disk solutions don’t retrieve files on a file-by-file basis, they typically leverage a VHD or VMDK (virtual hard disk) on the network. The advantage is that files are retried at a block level, which is a far quicker transfer.

Where the similarities end

Block-transfer based profile disks are where the similarities end. Some of the solutions are limited to only Microsoft RDSH, while others offer no turnkey way to have additional functionality like keeping the Microsoft Outlook index in sync so it does not have to start over every single time.

All profile disk solutions suffer from an additional drawback, profile data is tightly coupled to the Windows OS that it was created for. For instance, if your profile disk was create for a Windows 7 or Server 2012r2 environment, it probably will cease to function for users if you upgrade the Windows OS to Windows 10. Even worse, there are already four separate versions of Windows 10 and most of those break the compatibility of profiles between versions!

Where ProfileUnity shines

ProfileUnity is the ONLY solution on the market to take this into account by having two profile technologies that work closely together: 1) ProfileUnity’s ProfileDisk takes care of the use case of large profiles such as Office 365 with Outlook caches, additional VHD container options for Dropbox, OneDrive, or Amazon Drive caches, and 2) ProfileUnity’s Portability, which can run after the ProfileDisk is mounted and remediate Windows OS version changes in seconds. You can learn more about the power of the two together in this video demo:

Choose Carefully, Choose Wisely

ProfileUnity also offers far more than profile management. The solution delivers full User Environment Management including policy management, Application Rights Management, and Application Layering options.

Don’t get locked in to a profile disk that is chained to a single Windows OS, especially with Windows 10 updates coming fast and furious over the next several years. When this happens many administrators have to make users start from scratch with their profiles. The last thing you want to do is rip and replace user profiles, which can harm user adoption and negatively impact productivity.  If you want to leverage a proven profile disk that has full User Environment Management options, try ProfileUnity free by downloading it here.

-Jason E. Smith leads Technical Product Marketing for Liquidware and has been in the User Environment Management market for 18 years.

UK Citrix User Group 2017, Autumn Meeting – London

Our 22nd event will take place in London on 27th of September.


The Theatre, 10th floor
Blue Fin Building
110 Southwark Street
SE1 0SU, London



Nearest Tubes: BlackFriars (Circle, District), Southwark (Jubilee), London Bridge (Jubilee, Northern)
Nearest station: London Bridge, Blackfriars (take South of the river exit)


09.00 Registration opens. Enjoy coffee and pastries

09:30 News and updates – UKCUG

10:00 And then there was MAS – cloudDNA Co-founder Al Taylor returns for a deep dive look at NetScaler Management and Analytics System (MAS). (Community Session)

10.45 Hardware-independent client management. Maximilian Rückert Salas (Unicon, Sponsor session)

11.00 Future Proofing the Windows Workspace. Peter von Oven,(Sponsor session)

11.15 Coffee break (sponsored by Unicon Software)

11.45 Security for Citrix Admins. Historically security was not a task for (Citrix) administrators, therefore they’ve never learned how to defend and protect against malware and adversaries. Goal of this session is to raise awareness for security and learn how hackers think and operate using real life scenarios and demos.

In this session Geert Braakhekke and Remko Weijnen will show several demos and give you tips and recommendations to defend.  (CTP session)

12:45 Beyond Things: How IoT enables the future of human-computer interaction (part one). James Bulpin (Citrix)

13:30 Lunch (sponsored by FSLogix)

14:15 From the field :XenApp 7.x has changed the way Disaster Recovery should be managed. During this session, CTP Samuel Legrand will share his real world findings. (CTP session)

15:00 Beyond Things: How IoT enables the future of human-computer interaction (part two). John Moody (Citrix)

15:45 Coffee Break (sponsored by Unicon Software)

16.15 Lakeside (sponsor session)

16:30 Round Table.  Bring your issues, questions and opinions for our lively discussion hour

17:15 Wrap up & feedback forms prize draw

17:30 Networking Drinks (sponsored by Lakeside )

Register now

Eventbrite - UK Citrix User Group 2017, Autumn Meeting

Join us online

We understand that you might not be able to make it out of the office, so we try and broadcast proceedings online. Note that you’ll always get the best experience by being in the room. We don’t have professional broadcast equipment but we want as many people as possible to be able to learn and join in the conversation. You can register to attend online here. If you aren’t joining us in person, there is no need to register twice using Eventbrite.

Submit a session idea for our next meeting

Have a good topic, project or case study you’d think would be of interest to others? Submit your session idea for consideration for our Autumn meeting