Windows 10: Move Users Folder Location in Windows 10
As I reported here
Some curious installation experience with Sysprep - Windows 10 Forums
despite following this guide to the letter and taking every precaution to prevent early network access, I'm still getting intermittent success with this relocation method. The litmus test that tells a successfull install from an unsuccessful one is the "Sign In" functionality inside Windows Feedback application. If "Sign In" button does nothing immediately after the install, then your install is botched.
I found no definitive factor yet, that would determine the outcome, but practice shows that merely unplugging the Ethernet cable from the computer is not sufficient. At this time repeating the same install procedure on the same machine seems to produce good or bad results with about 50/50 probability.
Meanwhile, if the install is successful, the machine works fine, no issues whatsoever. One can probably cautiously state that there's no inherent problems in the very idea of 'Users' relocation. All and any problems you experience are most likely caused by a botched install.
Yes, ISO image downloaded through Media Download Tool now contains 'install.esd', not 'install.wim'. Meanwhile, ISO image downloaded from TechBench still contains 'install.wim'.
Also, if you visit the Media Download Tool page using a non-Windows device it will allow you to direct-download an ISO image with 'install.wim' inside.
Last edited by AndreyT; 21 Nov 2015 at 18:15.
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 regisry 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.
Last edited by AndreyT; 03 Dec 2015 at 21:25.
Question, I used this for Win 7 and 8, and it worked like a charm. I upgraded from Win 8.1 to Win 10, but now I want to do a clean install of Win 10.
My questions is this...
Can I just format my SSD, do a clean install of 0, and not have to go through the entire process to create a new xml relocation file? Since the relocation file already resides on the root of my documents drive (G, when windows boots up for the first time, will it just read the previous (old) relocation file?
Finnish but not finished
It will be simple but not as simple as you think.
Follow the Method One in this tutorial to install Windows and boot to Audit Mode. Copy and paste the answer file in MEthod One Step 2, save it as new answer file (relocate.xml or whatever.xml) and then sysprep with it, changing of course the details in answer file to match your setup as told in tutorial.
This adds maybe 5 to 7 minutes to the installation time, and it is easy and straight forward procedure.
Windows7 Pro to Windows 10 Pro Upgrade Process
I was able to get my main computer upgraded, thanks to this tutorial. Here is a list of the steps I took, along with some of my observations and mishaps. (Kari, I think I not only used up the rep points you gave me earlier, I may be in a deficit again)
- Image C: drive (SSD) in Macrium, backup D: drive with user and program data to NAS and local USB HDD in case I couldn't see the NAS later. Created a Macrium recovery disk with the latest PE and Macrium versions.
- Create installation media. Unfortunately I was downloading after Microsoft pulled the November update off the servers. I did use an unpublished link to download that update, but after creating an ISO and burning it to a DVD, it had the install.esd file. I had also downloaded an ISO file per Shawn Brink's tutorial which was the "rollback" to the July release, but this had the install.wim. I suppose I could have upgraded using the November update and then use the July release during the user file move process. I can also probably upgrade now from the November update DVD, but I am fine making sure everything is working.
- I deleted the User file content prior to moving. I made the mistake of doing this from my login rather than from the built-in administrator account or a dummy account. I couldn't log out/shutdown, finally did a hard stop, rebooted in safe mode, saw everything was working, returned to normal windows mode.
- Move user and program data back to C: per the sysprep file in the tutorial. This took a long time even with the reduced data set. Windows said it was evaluating my graphics performance, but I think that was just what the installation put up while it was doing something else and never got updated. Created another Macrium disk image of the C: drive. I had an issue with Windows giving me the "not Genuine" notice. My key was not working, I double and triple checked my entry, so I called Microsoft. The nice fellow tried several things, asked me again about checking the key. While he was checking on something with his colleagues, I found that I had misread a "V" as a "Y" (I write down the key from the label so it is easier to read, and my "V" somehow got a bit of a tail) Once I got that in correctly, everything was set.
- Updated to Windows 10 using the upgrade process (running setup.exe from the root of the install media), creating a dummy user account. No issues with the activation key.
- Deleted files from D: in readiness to move the user data back, copied the sysprep script to the D: drive . I wanted to format the drive first, but I got a popup message saying that the drive was in used. I noticed that there was still a hidden ProgramData folder there. I suspect that the issues I had in step 3 above may have caused this. I didn't disconnect the D: drive during install since I was worried that the drive letters might get remapped. I went ahead with the move process anyway, since I had backups of everything so I could always roll back if necessary.
- Completed the move process. All the programs migrated, everything worked fine. I copied the user data from the backup USB to the D: user directory.
- Ran into the start menu issue. I wish it had happened BEFORE I copied everything. I logged into the dummy user account, deleted my old account and files, then created a new account under the same name. I logged into it to create the user folder, then logged back into the dummy account and copied everything into that folder.
- Speaking of the dummy account, make sure that you have it set up to view all files. When I created my new account, I didn't get all the files copied over and certain items were not working correctly. Turns out the AppData folder hadn't gotten copied. I know Kari says not to do that, but in my case, that has my Thunderbird email files and setups, so there is a lot of data there I need. I copied it over and tried it out. I have all my emails, browser bookmarks, etc. The programs I use 99% were tested and work.
- I had to re-establish my account to my NAS (QNAP) but all the files are viewable. Next step once I am sure things are stable is to check my Macrium scripts and create the latest image (I try to do this on a somewhat regular basis anyway).
It was a fairly long process for me, but I didn't start things first thing in the morning and didn't stay up late working on it. Most of the time was spent waiting for backups, image creation and the install. Thanks again to Kari for the excellent tutorial.
On a bit of a sidenote, I posted before about doing an in-place upgrade - my metro apps are completely toast. Is it best to reverse what I've done with the user folders first or can I just run the upgrade with the unattended answer file?
You can just run the in-place upgrade without doing anything. No need to move folders back, no need for answer file - just mount the ISO and click on setup.exe - it works fine.
I think is no longer needed in that form, on my installation (three partitions). The partition letter were correct C, D, E then USB F and optical drive G:
Warning If you intend to use drive D: as the location for the relocated Users folder, please read this before proceeding! ...
I only moved the optical drive to W, since you can always have more than one usb-stick and then things get confusing with DVD in between.
no install.wim, after creating ISO, still no install.wim
I have a new hard disk, sent to me by Dell after my old disk died. It came with Windows 8, so I download win10 to a USB drive and installed from there. The USB contains no install.wim. I downloaded win10 as an ISO, burned it to a DVD, and still have no install.wim. I have install.esd on the USB, but I could not figure out how to create an ISO from the USB. Running the install never provided that option.
This in on a Dell Inspiron 4357 laptop.
I always move my user foldere to a separate partition, so this is frustrating. I wish the old 'simple' registry hack still worked.
I used the tutorial to move my user folders to a spare, second drive in my laptop. Now I'm thinking about changing it from a spinner to an SSD and I'm wondering what steps I should be considering, before I make that swap, to preserve my user folders...
I don't want to move my Users folder. (Kari has an excellent tutorial on that. I did it on a previous system and that's not a solution for me.)
My C drive is an SSD and my downloads are at 120GB. Sure, I can move things manually, but...
Alienware M17x R5 Laptop
Windows 10 Pro (upgraded from Windows 7 Pro)
What caused the problem:
1. I wanted to change the locations of the users directory from C:\ (SSD partition that contains the OS) to W:\ (HDD)
I have a computer that is stuck in an "automatic repair" loop. On this machine, the Users folder is on a separate physical hard drive than the system drive.
I have concluded that I will have to reset the PC. What is the best way to move...
I'm trying to move all of my documents to a new hard drive and I successfully did it with all of them except for the "Music" folder; each time I try to move it to a new location I get this error message:
Is there a way to correct this?