Microsoft deprecated the "TileDataLayer" model in the Windows 10 1703 Creators Update. In this post, I describe a hack that allows you to work with Start Tiles in roaming user profiles.

The latest feature update released for Windows 10—the "Creators Update"—brings a host of new features and refinements. However, one point often missed is that Microsoft can also deprecate features between Windows 10 updates. In the release version, there was a much-derided feature called Wifi Sense, which allowed you to share wireless network information with lists of "friends" such as Outlook Contacts. They quietly took this out and gave it a bullet in the head with the "Anniversary Update," and because it was a feature not many people were even keen on, there were very few candles lit for its passing.

When developers deprecate features that users have become used to and that possibly make them more productive, there may very well be disruption and pushback from the user base. That's bad enough—but when the changes affect administrative and management functions, there is even more uproar. Often, enterprises put into place tweaks and workarounds that are specific to their environments. And the need to change these tweaks and workarounds can cause extra overhead for IT departments.

Deprecated TileDataLayer model

A good case in point is roaming profiles and the Start Tiles. I wrote an article previously explaining how to get the Start Tiles included into a roaming profile with a fairly ugly hack. The concept of Start Tiles was new to Windows 10, and this paradigm forced administrators to adopt methods such as this to ensure smooth roaming.

After a period of adaptation and experimentation, admins accepted that the data controlling the Start Tiles experience had moved to %LOCALAPPDATA%\TileDataLayer\Database, and that capturing this folder into a roaming profile would allow porting the settings from device to device.

However, the Creators Update lists the "TileDataLayer" model as one of the deprecated features; see this for further details on other features the update removed or deprecated. Deprecated means the feature is "not in active development and…planned for potential removal in subsequent releases."

Our testing indicates this is indeed true; they haven't completely done away with the TileDataLayer—yet. But on the surface at least, using the method from the previous article to deal with roaming profiles and the Start Tiles no longer works with the 1703 update. This is probably because Microsoft have started to put the new method in place and are in a period of transition towards it.

Digging under the hood indicates this speculation appears accurate. It seems there has been some movement away from the TileDataLayer model, which now necessitates some extra changes to the hack we have previously used.

Start Tiles in roaming profiles

First, you need to ensure this Registry value is set in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE for roaming profiles to function correctly on the 1703 version of Windows 10. It's not entirely clear what this value does, but it appears to allow customization of the Start Menu/Tiles even in situations where custom start tiles policies are applied.

Key:   HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

Value: SpecialRoamingOverrideAllowed


Value: 1

Next, you need to adjust the data in your ExcludeProfileDirs value to allow saving these folders in addition to the TileDataLayer folder, because these appear to be the areas where Microsoft are shifting the Start Tiles data towards.



AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer (you may only need this one if you see problems in the ordering or presentation of items on the Start Tiles)

It’s also implicit in a roaming profile situation that you would be saving the entire user Registry hive, but if you were using another solution to achieve this, the Registry key that (at least for the 1703 edition) relates directly to the Start Tiles is this: HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\CloudStore

The folders now required for the Start Menu settings

The folders now required for the Start Menu settings

To give you a place to start, I've included the results from my testing, which I used for the ExcludeProfileDirs value and which allowed me to roam the Start Menu settings in their entirety. However, given that the value is exclusion-based, you will have to test and ensure there aren't any additional %LOCALAPPDATA% folders you need to add to this list, based on the applications loaded within your base image.

This seems to work pretty well in my lab, but you will need to test it thoroughly in specific enterprise environments. As mentioned in the previous article, you can easily set this via Group Policy.

Key - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
Value – ExcludeRoamingProfileDirs
Type – REG_SZ
Data - AppData\LocalLow;$Recycle.Bin;OneDrive;WorkFolders;AppData\Local\Comms;AppData\Local\ConnectedDevicesPlatform;AppData\Local\Google;AppData\Local\GroupPolicy;AppData\Local\Mozilla;AppData\Local\Packages;AppData\Local\Publishers;AppData\Local\PeerDistRepub;AppData\Local\Temp;AppData\Local\VirtualStore;AppData\Local\Winternals;AppData\Local\Adobe;AppData\Local\Apple;AppData\Local\AppleComputer;AppData\Local\Autodesk;AppData\Local\Chromium;AppData\Local\CrashDumps;AppData\Local\NVIDIA;AppData\Local\NVIDIACorporation;AppData\Local\Skype;AppData\Local\WebEx;AppData\Local\Foxit

These preferences can allow setting this for all users or a subset of them based around configurable parameters.

Interestingly, there is one further folder where the Start Tiles databases appear to be replicated to, but is not actively used. This folder is AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\SettingSync (hidden and marked "System" by default, so you may not notice it initially).

The SettingSync folder

The SettingSync folder

This folder appears to be a placeholder for settings Microsoft will eventually put into their Enterprise State Roaming (ESR) feature. The idea is to store certain profile settings in the Azure cloud and allow roaming between user sessions on different devices. It requires a Premium Azure Active Directory (AD) subscription and only works on Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. But it will eventually be the go-to solution for roaming as more core apps move to UWP and Azure takes off. A case in point is the Settings UWP app versus the traditional "legacy" Control Panel. Gradually more and more configuration items are moving to the Settings app, and once this is complete, ESR in its entirety should be able to manage anything within this.


Windows 10 feature updates don't just bring new features—they can take away existing ones. And in cases such as these, where new behavior renders ineffective any configuration tweaks you may have made on the older versions, it demonstrates perfectly why you need to have a broad testing process to identify possible issues.

  1. Steve Sutton 6 years ago

    Thank you for this, its very helpful, i came up with the original solution you published and i posted it on a forum long ago so its good others picked up on it, you have saved me a lot time trying figure what has changed so thank you for this article.

    Once issue i encounter in when users log on twice it corrupts the start menu still, have you had any luck finding out what happens in the scenario.


    • Mark 6 years ago

      I’m experiencing the same problem. Logon to first machine; all good. Logon to second machine; all good. Logon to third machine; start menu corrupted.

      Any ideas?

      • Nick Panaccio 6 years ago

        Same issue here. First two logins are fine, but on the third the Start menu is corrupted (missing tiles, duplicate tiles, etc.). Never fails, always on the 3rd login. This is on W10 1703/VDA 7.15/UPM 7.16.

  2. Zane 6 years ago

    Hello James,

    I found this article while looking for infos to confirm my own findings. My goal was to backup the right-side of the Start menu.

    I now created a small package to do all the operations needed to backup and restore the Start menu automatically: if this could be of interest to you, please give a look at StartTileBackup. Your feedback is very welcome.

    • Bill 5 years ago

      Dude, you’re a frikkin genius.  You saved me a whole lotta brain-strain.  Thank you just isn’t enough.  🙂

  3. Grubsy 6 years ago

    Should the registry value be ExcludeProfileDirs instead of ExcludeRoamingProfileDirs?

    I was using ExcludeProfileDirs on 1607.



  4. Norm 6 years ago


    Helpful. Thank you.

  5. Christoph 4 years ago


    great Tutorial. Thx 4 this. But i have one Problem after adding adding the Exlude registry entry. Always after login Windows shows first boot screen. I don't know how its called in English. I talk about the screen "Hello!" – "Windows is prepared, do not shutdown" screen (sorry, tried to translate it)

    Any Ideas which folder has to be Included that Windows remembers that the user was already logged in?

  6. Kris 4 years ago

    I've recently had this issue start on my desktop. Event ID 455. What happens is that the actual lock screen shows up just fine, but the logic screen — where you put in your password and your account picture is displayed, will lag/freeze so badly as it tries to load that log-in that it resets to the lock screen or even the computer monitor just goes dark again due to no input. It's something wrong with the TileDataLayer and I don't know how to fix this. This has started happening after the most recent windows update 1903 and part of the reason why I haven't done the update on my laptop — I'm scared this same update will result in the same lock-up problem.

    I found in another post you just have to add the two missing folders (because yeah the two folders at the end of the path are MISSING) and the necessary program files would show up. Well….they didn't. And I'm really pissed because each time my computer goes back to sleep or hibernate mode, this whole issue starts up again. It takes like 3 minutes of hitting a button to bring the log-in screen up, the screen freezing up and reseting, lather, rinse repeat before I can log in.

    • Kris 4 years ago

      sorry couldn't edit the typos I mean *login* screen not logic screen.

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