Q176059 says that the Users control panel applet, which provides "a simplified way of creating, managing, and deleting user profiles", was only introduced in the update that installs Internet Explorer 4. The word "simplified" implies there was already some other, more complicated way. I know that you could create a new user on Windows 95 just by logging in as a nonexistent one, but how could you manage and delete them before IE4?
Before Internet Explorer 4, Windows 95 user profiles could only be managed manually. Creating a user profile would result in the following changes:
<username>.pwlfile in the main Windows directory, used to store the user’s passwords (not only their login password; passwords used to access resources on the network, if the user checked the “Save this password in your password list” box)
a directory under the
Profilesdirectory in the main Windows directory, with subdirectories for
- the desktop
- the “Recent” folder
- the Start menu
and files for the user registry (
USER.DATand its backup,
Thus to manage users, you would do the following:
- to delete a user and all their data, delete their PWL file and their profile directory;
- to clear a user’s password, delete their PWL file; individual entries can be deleted using the Password List Editor;
- to change a user’s password, use the Change Windows Password applet in the Control Panel;
- to update a user’s copy of the Start menu, copy shortcuts as necessary (installation programs would only install shortcuts in the running user’s profile).
The Windows 95 Resource Kit describes how to set user profiles up, and how they work, but doesn’t go into management detail; it’s concerned mostly with system policies which allow user profiles to be constrained.
Given that there was no file system-level protection, all this was for user convenience rather than anything else, at least when used on a non-network-connected system: users would be able to customise their settings, desktop etc. without affecting other users.
Internet Explorer 4 added a few more directories under user profiles, so that each user could have their own favourites and downloaded web pages.