What is the AppData Roaming and Local Difference? - WindowsChimp

What is the AppData Roaming and Local Difference?

If you’ve ever gone through the filesystem of your Windows PC, you must have come across the AppData folder. It’s hidden by default, though. So, you might not be able to see it or have any reason to look into it.

But if you have the option Show hidden files, folders and drives, you’ll be able to see it. Each Windows user account has its data stored away. And you’ll find all the data in the AppData folder.

After every installation, the system put necessary files in the Program Files folder, we all know that. But what about the settings you’ve personalized? Well, these are the data stored in the AppData folder.

You could take a look around if you want. But nothing would personally interest you. Though if some problem occurs in the settings or to avoid such situations, you should take a look at it.

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Where you will Find AppData?

Now that you know what AppData is? Let’s see its location. For that you need to open the File Explorer and follow the following path:

C:\\Users\\USERNAME\\AppData

Here, USERNAME is your own Windows accounts name. Well, if multiple persons use the PC then you’ll find another username’s here too. But if you are only one using the PC then you’ll just see your username.

This feature is pretty useful as the settings tweaked up by another user won’t affect yours. The system stores configuration in their respective AppData folder and you can have quick access to it.

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An Example

Let me talk about an example to clear things up, let’s assume your username is “Robert”. So, then you’ll find your AppData folder in the following path:

C:\\Users\\Robert\\AppData by default.

You can just type it in the address bar to directly go into the folder. Even if you don’t have the option Show hidden files, folders and drives marked up; you’ll still be able to see the folders within AppData.

Once you go inside the AppData folder, you’ll see three more folders in there. They are:

  • Local
  • LocalLow
  • Roaming

What are Local, LocalLow, and Roaming?

As I said earlier that these are the folders inside AppData, programs store different types of data in each of them. So, let’s first find out what they are.

Local

The Local folder has specific data for a single computer. Which means it would never sync from computer to computer even if you are signed in a domain.

All the data are specific for a PC and differs from PC to PC. They are even large. Your OS stores the downloaded cache files or other large files or settings configured for single PC here. Well, the developers mainly decide what goes where. So, it might contain different types of data.

Such as user configurations, updater, crash reports, add-ins etc.

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Roaming

Well, Roaming folder can contain entirely different data files than Local. The name says it all. It includes all data types that would roam from a PC to PC only if you logging to a domain. Of course, you have to have a roaming profile.

Important settings are stored here, such as Firefox would save all their user profiles here and then connect you to other PC. So, even if you aren’t using your computer, you can still have access to your bookmarks and settings.

LocalLow

The LocalLow folder includes data that can’t move. The file overall has a lower level of access. So, if you are running a browser or an app in a safe mode, it would only access it from the LocalLow folder.

Also, the system will not create the folder on a different computer. So, any app that needs to access this folder would crash.

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Is there any difference b/w AppData Roaming & Local?

According to The Windows Club, if your system is not going to connect to a domain, then there isn’t much of a difference between Roaming and Local. Your OS stores all these files in your PC of course. Even so, developers divide the data stored in AppData just in case.

But the situation changes if you correctly to a domain with a roaming profile. In that case, the files stored in Roaming would be available on different PC. And you will be able to access it anytime.

On the other hand, Data stored in Local folder can’t be moved or synced. So, these data can’t be accessed from a different PC even if you are logging to a domain.

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Should you Backup the AppData Folder?

By now, you must wonder about the necessity of these files. Well, it’s hidden by default. So, there isn’t any need for any user to know about this. Programs store their valuable data here, but you can roam around if there’s a need for that.

Initially, there’s no need for backing up the entire folder. But if you want to be 100% safe then include it in the backups just in case.

If you only want a specific program’s settings or user data or games save files, then you can just include that particular file. All you need to do is to dig around the AppData folder and select the files you wish to backup.

The necessity of these files is absolute. It’s better not to change up data as they can mess up your app. The programs take their necessary info’s from these files, so if you delete them or change them they won’t work correctly.

So, it’s better to leave them alone, especially Local and LocalLow files. These are crucial as they are only for a single PC and you can not sync. So, better watch out before making any changes. I would advise not to do anything unless you are 100% sure.

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Ken Moore says January 14, 2018

I very much appreciate the Windowschimp articles and links!!!
Always did wonder, for example, what the AppData and Roaming folders were all about.
Keep up the good work!!!

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