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In multiple Sitecore sites I have implemented a separate SQL database for storing information related to the user profile where one-to-many relationships where concerned. One such example is:

UserA has a BMW and Ford UserB has a Mercedes, Volvo and Toyota.

These values might appear in the user profile area where the user can add/delete.

Is there a best practice for this type of user profile information that is self-contained in Sitecore that I have overlooked?

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The best practice is to have everything in Sitecore.

User profile fields are stored in Core db.

You can define "database" in your field source.

You will define source of your field like : databasename=master&datasource=/sitecore/content/cars

See also: https://sitecorecontextitem.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/working-with-custom-user-profile-fields-in-sitecore/

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