[FIXED] Google Chrome user settings with roaming profiles and environmental variables

November 1, 2011

Overview

Google Chrome is fast becoming popular in the enterprise and Google has provided some tools to make deployment and management easier for Windows admins:

Issue

By default, Google Chrome keeps user settings in the following locations:

Windows XP/2003:

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

Windows Vista/2008 & 7/2008 R2:

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

Unfortunately, due to the fact that Google Chrome keeps user settings in the local application data section of the user profile, it cannot be used with roaming profiles out of the box. For some enterprises, this may be a major road block in deploying Chrome!

Google’s Group Policy templates allow for setting the UserDataDir to another location however unfortunately, if an environmental variable (such as %APPDATA%) is used within the UserDataDir path (ie %APPDATA%\Google\Chrome\User Data), Chrome crashes on startup. It appears that Chrome does not support the use of environmental variables for passing paths via GPO.

Solution

Google seem to have created their own 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}

Other variables:

  • ${documents} – The “Documents” folder for the current user. (“C:\Users\Administrator\Documents”)
  • ${global_app_data} – The system-wide Application Data folder. (“C:\AppData”)

So for example, to store Chrome’s user data in the roaming application data section of users profiles, I set the UserDataDir policy path to:

${roaming_app_data}\Google\Chrome\User Data

tags:
posted in Internet, Windows by Sam Kendall

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10 Comments to "[FIXED] Google Chrome user settings with roaming profiles and environmental variables"

  1. Joe Rainero wrote:

    Hello Sam,

    Thank you for posting this. We used ${roaming_app_data}\Google\Chrome\User Data in the Set user data directory for the ADM for Chrome but Chrome crashes when we try to open it. When we set it back to not configured, Chrome works again, but does not save our settings because we use roaming profiles with folder redirection and we have redirected the appdata folder. Do you have a suggestion how we should configure this?

    Thanks,
    Joe

  2. John Doe wrote:

    Hello Sam,
    I also tried this fix with google chrome. No luck
    Any suggestions?

  3. Chris wrote:

    Sam and Joe,

    Great tutorial! Unfortunately Chrome crashes for us, too, when attempting to use the roaming_app_data variable for user settings. This is in Windows 7. I haven’t found a solution yet, but hey the day is young!

    Chris

  4. Anwar wrote:

    Can you tell me how to use this variable to fix this problem.%APPDATA% = ${roaming_app_data}.

  5. Jeremy wrote:

    The crashing problem should hopefully be fixed in the latest Chrome build (see my homepage link)

  6. james wrote:

    I have posted this in EE to see if we can get the ball rolling.

  7. Neil wrote:

    I have redirected the user data folder, but found that I have to disable the built in flash that Chrome uses if I have Adobe Flash installed. All of my settings were just wiped though, so I don’t think redirecting user data in Chrome is stable yet.

    I doubt it ever will be because Google just doesn’t care about this sort of thing.

  8. pdtechguru wrote:

    Google Chrome Home Page Group Policy

    http://pdtechguru.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/google-chrome-group-policy/

  9. Dan wrote:

    Thanks for this posting.

    Based on your experiences, and what other commenters have noted, I decided it was better to leave these settings alone and use Citrix UPM policies to roam the AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data folder from one session to the next, but excluding the AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cache folder, as it seems to contain the, well, cache.

    I just read the thread in http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=84045. Not nice at all.

  10. michaanonym wrote:

    uhm.. sorry.. but i even don´t know where to configure those properties…
    do you all mean, that i should redirect via GPO with those strange google-variables..?

    sorry for my bad english and for any misunderstandings..

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