Move Users Folder Location in Windows 10  


  1. Posts : 4
    Windows 10
       #1350

    Still Stymied


    My new Lenovo P15v Gen 2 came with Windows 10 Pro pre-loaded. (I'm reluctantly moving "up" from Windows 7.) I installed a second 500G SSD as drive D:, and I am still trying to relocate the entire \Users folder tree there instead of C:. I'm retired, and will actually be the machine's only user. As soon as I get it to recognize D:\Users, I will install on the new machine most of the apps I've used on the old, and populate each AppData folder on D:\Users\<owner name>\AppData with the current contents of the corresponding folder on my current machine's C:\Users\<owner name>.
    I'm less concerned about the standard folders such as "Documents" because I don't use them anyway; I have always preferred to organize both text and data files in folders corresponding to my own needs on a separate data drive.
    The problem I described two days ago, in which Kari's relocate.xml script refused to run at all, has been resolved, as I explained soon after my first post. However:
    Because this is a Lenovo pre-load, I can't use Kari's Method 1.
    Method 2 goes into a loop: after several initialization steps, Windows reboots; etc etc and so forth.

    I do have Macrium Reflect, and had made a Recovery thumb-drive as well as a full image of the original drive, so it wasn't very difficult to recover from that situation. However, in searching through this very long thread, I've seen some comments that Lenovo's preload versions of Windows 10 are especially prone to sysprep problems, so bashing away at Method 2 may not be the smartest use of my time.
    Obviously, Macrium's "File and Folder Backup" offers a very easy way to migrate all those AppData subfolder from the old machine's C: to the new machine's D: drive. I am also quite comfortable using regedit.
    So my question is, could a reasonably small set of regedit steps (taken either before or after that migration process) achieve the same results as the "relocate.xml" script that my Lenovo machine chokes on? Is it sufficient to change the ProfilesDirectory as recently described by another user, or are further steps required?
    Thanks!!!
      My Computer


  2. Posts : 28
    Windows 10
       #1351

    Thank you Kari for this fantastic tutorial!

    I am now also planning to move my user folder.

    The scenario in my case is as follows.

    I have been installing my programs on a dedicated SSD under the drive letter F: for many years.

    However, I have not changed any variables in Windows for doing so. Instead, each time I install a program, I replace the program's default path in the installation dialog from C:\[some\program\path] to F:\[some\program\path]. This has always worked without exception.

    I keep my data on a third hard disk drive with the drive letter D:

    Furthermore I have two identical PCs at different locations. I synchronize the data hard drives via Internet.

    I plan to use the program hard drive F: alternately on both PCs by physically carrying it back and forth between the two PCs by means of front hard drive bays like this:
    Move Users Folder Location in Windows 10-maxresdefault.jpg

    I'm now planning to move the user folder also over to the swappable hard drive F:

    This way I'd expect that most of the Windows and programs settings will be kept in sync on both PCs by using the F: drive on both PC's.

    Do you guys believe that this will work?

    Edit: I just noticed that the user-specific part of the registry (Ntuser.dat) is stored in the user folder. If I put the user folder on the removable disk F: with the installed programs, and move this disk back and forth between the two computers, then I have almost all possible settings synchronized on both computers, don't I?

    Edit 2: I saved relocate.xml to drive D:, forgetting that in my case D: is a Bitlocker-encrypted drive which has to be manually unlocked after every boot. Will this affect the user folder relocation -- or is relocate.xml not needed anymore after the process reboots and does its thing?

    Edit 3: After the reboot, the point circle on the Windows logo screen has now been rotating for an hour, while the HDD LED is flashing, showing HDD activity. I have only SSDs, and my user profile folder is at 23 GB with around 100,000 files. Is it normal for the relocation to take so much longer than it would take to simply move the folder in Windows Explorer?

    - - - Updated - - -

    David P said:
    Edit 3: After the reboot, the point circle on the Windows logo screen has now been rotating for an hour, while the HDD LED is flashing, showing HDD activity. I have only SSDs, and my user profile folder is at 23 GB with around 100,000 files. Is it normal for the relocation to take so much longer than it would take to simply move the folder in Windows Explorer?
    Ok it took a little more than an hour, and now the entire user folder is successfully moved to drive F:!

    David P said:
    Edit 2: I saved relocate.xml to drive D:, forgetting that in my case D: is a Bitlocker-encrypted drive which has to be manually unlocked after every boot. Will this affect the user folder relocation -- or is relocate.xml not needed anymore after the process reboots and does its thing?
    Encryption of the disk D: did not cause any problems -- it did not need to be accessed by the OOBE process after the reboot :)

    - - - Updated - - -


    David P said:
    Ok it took a little more than an hour, and now the entire user folder is successfully moved to drive F:!
    Now I only seem to get difficulties assigning drive letter F: also when cloning (or carrying over, for that matter) the F: programs/user drive for use on a second PC.

    When I simply add that drive to the second PC, the drive doesn't seem to get the same drive letter, which prevents me from logging in at all because the user folders are not found.

    I guess I have to experiment a little by adding some further (dummy) drives, until the correct drive letter F: is assigned to that Program/User drive again...
    Last edited by David P; 10 Oct 2021 at 13:35.
      My Computer


  3. Posts : 9
    Windows 10 Pro x64
       #1352

    Hi Everyone! (Especially Kari)
    I've used this tutorial since early W10 and worked as a charm. Now I want to upgrade to W11, and my question is: Has anyone tried upgrading? Does it keep userprofiles folder in another drive if that was my choice back then? Does the target drive need to be empty?
    I remember for method 1, it had to be empty so it would create userprofiles folder there. After so many years, I have it full of stuff which I cannot move temporarily to another drive. I just want to know if someone tried upgrading to W11 without any issues, with userprofile folder on a different drive, and kept all the stuff safely in there :)
    Thanks a lot for your replied guys, definitely this is the most useful tutorial I have ever seen, and keeps being useful!!
    Hope Kari recovered from health issues!
    Thank you!
      My Computer


  4. Posts : 179
    Windows 11 Pro
       #1353

    I did a fresh install of Windows 11 and the tutorial here works exactly like it does for Windows 10. Not sure about upgrading from. 10 to 11. But don't see why it wouldn't work.
      My Computer


  5. Posts : 9
    Windows 10 Pro x64
       #1354

    ern88 said:
    I did a fresh install of Windows 11 and the tutorial here works exactly like it does for Windows 10. Not sure about upgrading from. 10 to 11. But don't see why it wouldn't work.
    Just want to do an upgrade, but make sure I dont lose 3 years of files during the process
      My Computer


  6. Posts : 28
    Windows 10
       #1355

    David P said:
    Now I only seem to get difficulties assigning drive letter F: also when cloning (or carrying over, for that matter) the F: programs/user drive for use on a second PC.
    Ok so this I solved (on the second PC) by holding shift while rebooting from the lock screen (that would not let me in for lack of finding a users folder), thereby booting into safe mode (with command prompt), which in turn did let me log in even without the user files in place, then monkey gripping myself into Windows task manager, from there running MiniTool Partition Manager, and thus finally being able to assign the correct drive letter F: to the SSD with my user files on it :)
      My Computer


  7. Posts : 4
    Windows 10
       #1356

    Backup, backup, backup. A program such as Macrium Reflect will compress significantly, but if you don't have enough space on your external backup drive, buy another one. Ultimately, because your time is money, it's pretty cheap insurance.
      My Computer


  8. Posts : 9
    Windows 10 Pro x64
       #1357

    oldVermonter said:
    Backup, backup, backup. A program such as Macrium Reflect will compress significantly, but if you don't have enough space on your external backup drive, buy another one. Ultimately, because your time is money, it's pretty cheap insurance.
    Just asking to save the time to make a clean install of all software I have on my laptop. When I did last week on my desktop, pressing CTRL+SHIFT+F3 I could log with embedded admin, but sysprep failed and had to rebuild all from scratch. It's what I want to avoid on my laptop...... I could backup both System drive and UserProfile drive, but that's 1Tb+2Tb and I don't have the patience to wipe both drives clean in case a windows upgrade fails and doesn't keep my current settings....
      My Computer


  9. Posts : 28
    Windows 10
       #1358

    Funny, I just cloned (within Windows) my F: drive (where all my programs are installed) to another SSD and then moved the drive letter F: from the old drive to the new one using MiniTool Partition Manager WHILE LOTS OF PROGRAMS WERE RUNNING from that drive letter F: -- INCLUDING THE WINDOWS SWAPFILE -- and not one single program, including the Chrome browser, noticed it, let alone crashed

    - - - Updated - - -

    OK so I've done the Users folder relocation twice now (Method Two), and it has worked almost without problems.

    However, both times I noticed that:

    1. my pinned Taskbar icons are gone (although the shortcuts are still all present in the "User Pinned" folder now located in F:\Users\MyUsername\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\TaskBar;
    2. some programs that were set to autorun wouldn't automatically start after booting;
    3. Trimble SketchUp would complain about some paths under C:\Users not existing (fortunately, this can be fixed in the program's settings);
    4. my custom standard Windows font was reset to default; and
    5. my CAD controller (3DConnexion SpaceNavigator) would not work anymore. Unfortunately, now it's even impossible to install its driver. The driver installation would start, but then roll back everything and fail.

    Are these some known, or possible issues...?

    Also, a Registry search brings up almost 4000 occurrences of the string "C:\Users", among them also paths to some autorun entries (that now don't work anymore).

    What should I do about these Registry entries -- replace them all with "F:\Users"....?

    - - - Updated - - -

    I just found this post by AndreyT:

    AndreyT said:
    BTW, I don't know whether it has been mentioned already, but this procedure suffers from some "traditional" backward-compatibility bugs in Windows, which date back all the way to Windows 7.

    As you certainly know, to improve compatibility with older software, Windows creates hidden directly junctions (or, sometimes, symlinks) that "mimic" Windows XP directory structure. For example, drive C: contains a hidden junction 'Documents and Settings' that usually points to 'C:\Users'. Also, 'C:\Users\<user name>' contains a hidden junction 'My Documents' that points to 'C:\Users\<user name>\Documents' and so on and so forth.

    Now, when you use this relocation procedure, Windows installer obediently relocates the 'Users' folder, but it forgets to update the target for 'C:\Documents and Settings' junction. The latter remains pointing to the non-existent original location 'C:\Users'. The same applies to 'C:\ProgramData\Documents' and 'C:\ProgramData\Desktop' junctions and probably some others.

    This general bug manifests itself in many other contexts as well. For example, when you use Properties of 'Documents' folder to relocate it to a different drive, Windows "forgets" to update the hidden 'My Documents' junction.

    This is probably not a big deal, since it can only affect older software, which is also thoughtlessly hardcoded to rely on Windows XP directory structure. But the issue exists. If you want to keep everything consistent, it makes sense to manually update the junctions after any relocation procedures.

    In addition to the above, if you do a search for 'C:\Users' through the Registry immediately after install, you will discover that some registry values are created as pointing to 'C:\Users\...' locations. Notably, the values under 'ShellFolders' suffer from that problem. This also has to be fixed manually, if you want a proper clean install.

    Is this still relevant, and should those junctions be updated manually? Also, if I replace all (3,800) occurrences of "F:\users" in the Registry by "F:\users", is this safe, or can it go catastrophically wrong?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Also, I just saw that there is still (or, already again) stuff in C:\Users:

    Move Users Folder Location in Windows 10-image.png

    I wonder what I should do with this?

    - - - Updated - - -

    David P said:
    Also, I just saw that there is still (or, already again) stuff in C:\Users.
    I wonder what I should do with this?
    Ok so I went and deleted the entire C:\Users folder, and relocated the Outlook *.OST file from C:\Users\MyUsername\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook to the respective place on drive F: this way.

    David P said:
    Also, if I replace all (3,800) occurrences of "F:\users" in the Registry by "F:\users", is this safe, or can it go catastrophically wrong?
    Also here, I went and changed all occurrences from C: to F:

    So far, nothing much happened. I hope it remains that way.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I don't mean to be heretical, only asking: there are still tutorials to be found where people seem to relocate their Users folder using Junctions, or even Softlinks, like for example here.

    Is there a reason that this would not work, or break something, nowadays in Windows 10?
    Last edited by David P; 17 Oct 2021 at 09:30. Reason: typo
      My Computer


  10. Posts : 9
    Windows 10 Pro x64
       #1359

    oldVermonter said:
    Backup, backup, backup. A program such as Macrium Reflect will compress significantly, but if you don't have enough space on your external backup drive, buy another one. Ultimately, because your time is money, it's pretty cheap insurance.
    In the end, I upgraded using this mediacreationtool.bat, selected 11 and Autosetup. Worked as a charm and Windows keeps using my d:\Userprofile folder Nothing has been lost in the process, only thing I had to do, is add again some Desktop shortcuts and done. This tutorial is in spanish, but is priceless to upgrade machines not supported by W11.

    Leaving the link here, just in case someone else wants to use the same .bat file :)
    Como actualizar a Windows 11 en un PC no soportado
      My Computer


 

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