Home > Windows, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 > Google Chrome User Settings with Roaming Profiles

Google Chrome User Settings with Roaming Profiles

Google Chrome is becoming increasingly popular among users. Google Chrome recently surpassed Internet Explorer in market share. According to numbers from StatCounter, Google’s browser finally averaged higher traffic than Internet Explorer for the first time over a full seven-day stretch. From May 14th through May 20th, the Google’s Web browser garnered a 32.76% share, ahead of Microsoft’s 31.94% and Mozilla Firefox’s 25.47% share. It has grown quite popular among students and professors at my university and among enterprise environments.

A problem was recently reported to me that Google Chrome was not storing user’s information once they logged out of a computer. Looking into the issue, I realized what was going on. Google Chrome stores information in the local application data folder of the user’s profile. This folder is not uploaded when the user logs off a computer.

Windows XP/2003:

C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default

Windows Vista/7:

C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default

I needed to be able to tell Google to save it’s user data in the Roaming folder which is uploaded when they log off, and not the local application data folder. This can be achieved by passing the user data directory as an argument when running Chrome’s executable but that would require making that change manually of hundreds of computers.

Luckily, Google has provided administrators with tools to make deployment and management easier.

I had recently installed the ADM template that Google provides administrators to set the home page as well as some other common settings for our public laboratory computers. In that ADM template, is the option to set the user data directory to one of your choosing. Google Chrome uses it’s own set of variables rather than using the standard Windows environmental variables.

The current list of Chrome variables on Windows includes:

  • %APPDATA% = ${roaming_app_data}
  • %LOCALAPPDATA% = ${local_app_data}
  • %USERNAME% =  ${user_name}
  • %COMPUTERNAME% = ${machine_name}
  • %USERPROFILE% = ${profile}
  • %PROGRAMFILES% =  ${program_files}
  • %WINDIR% =  ${windows}
  • ${documents} – The “Documents” folder for the current user. (“C:\Users\Administrator\Documents”)
  • ${global_app_data} – The system-wide Application Data folder. (“C:\AppData”)

So what I did was set the user data directory to the roaming data directory like so:

${roaming_app_data}\Google\Chrome\User Data

After performing a group policy update, the machines were correctly storing user’s data in their roaming profiles.

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