In a networked environment, a PC can be used by many people. As people leave and PCs get passed around, or as people who once used a PC and added a roaming profile to the system leave, profiles tend to add up. In many instances profiles can be as small as a megabyte or two, but with established users such as an administrator account these profiles can be consume gigabytes of disk space. Further, if you have profiles on a computer that are from people no longer with the company, they can constitute a severe security risk.
To see what profiles exist on an XP system, log in as an administrator and open the System control panel. Click the Advanced tab; then click the Settings button in the User Profiles section in the center of the control panel. You'll find a list of local profiles, their names, and their sizes.
Before you delete a profile, it's a good idea to backup the system. Since networked profiles are also stored on the network server, they should be backed up from the server in case you need to reestablish the profile. You can set whether the local profile or roaming profile for an account is set by clicking the change Type button in the User Profiles dialog box.
Barrie Sosinsky is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.