Group Policy Quick Tip – Remove Old Profiles

If you support computer labs or any other environment where lots of different people log into your computers daily, you’ve probably had to deal with user profiles that need to be deleted.  The good news is that there is a setting in Group Policy that take care of that for you.

Delete Old Profiles on Reboot Group Policy Setting

Why would you want to set this policy?

  • The main reason for setting this policy would be for lab or other types of public use terminals where many users log in on a regular basis.  The large number of user logons will cause user profiles to accumulate on the local system.  Setting this option will delete old user profiles that are no longer in use.

Where is the policy located?

  • Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > System > User Profiles > Delete user profiles older than a specified number of days on system restart.

Configurable Options

  • Click Enabled
  • Set the number of days you want to wait before deleting old profiles.

Supported Operating Systems/Software

  • Windows Vista and up

Gotchas and Other Considerations

There are two things you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • The deletion process happens on reboot which can potentially have a serious impact on system performance during reboots or shutdown/startup.  For a lab, kiosk, or other public terminal, this may be acceptable.  For day-to-day workstations, this may not be an acceptable slow down.
  • Second, I’ve had a few situations where the user’s profile was deleted, but the C:Usersusername folder stayed behind.  The next time the user logged into the computer, they got a new profile folder at C:Usersusername.domain.


5 thoughts on “Group Policy Quick Tip – Remove Old Profiles

  1. Michael February 14, 2012 / 12:14 PM

    Could this be deployed in a terminal server environment?

  2. kyle February 20, 2012 / 1:31 PM

    I haven’t personally, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

  3. Mike April 1, 2014 / 10:50 AM

    Kyle: I’ve also found that if the registry entry for a user profile is not deleted you will get a temporary profile when the user logs back on. You have to manually remove this entry from the registry after you manually delete the folder from the Users folder. So this GPO is flawed IMO.

  4. Hunter October 30, 2014 / 2:06 PM

    I agree with Mike’s Comments. Is there another setting to also remove the HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Profilelist\”S-1value” associated with C:\Users\folder at the same time of processing this GPO?

  5. Justin January 27, 2017 / 9:17 AM

    Kyle. Not sure if you are still monitoring this, but this is the first article on this topic that has mentioned the issue I am having. I am seeing the second condition under your gotchas section, where the users data is deleted within each user folder, but the user folder remains and the next time they login it creates a new folder. Have you stumbled across a solution for this?

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