Move Users Folder Location in Windows 10  

  1. Posts : 1
    Windows 7 & 10

    I'm having some similar issues as ManhattanMarc myself.

    Relocating the User folder on my system seems to be absolutely trashing anything to do with the Modern UI on my desktop when installing Windows 10 Home or Pro. When I did Enterprise on my laptop there were zero issues nor have any cropped up. On my desktop, however, I got a clean install going with the User folder relocated and functioning correctly only to have the Start button, Cortana, Windows Store, and Modern UI aspects like account creation become absolutely unusable. In addition to that every second or so the little round/circling "something is active" indicator on the mouse cursor would blink off, and Event Viewer would track multiple error messages pertaining to Cortana, uishell.exe (IIRC), and one or two other programs/services.

    I tried pretty much everything from the troubleshooting sites on the matter; sfc /scannow, DISM, powershell, and even a big, huge batch file where I couldn't identify 98% of the stuff in it. I checked services, I rolled back registry changes I'd made prior to Windows 10 coughing up a hairball, I shut down services and startup tasks, and I even managed to find a round-about method to create a new user account only to have the issues persist there as well. In fact the only time I saw any relief from this issue was when rebooting into Safe Mode which allowed the Start button to function properly.

    After something like 12 hours of trying to fix that I decided that there was no point in not reinstalling Windows 10. That was about 16 hours ago, and most of the time spent since has been devoted to trying to get a functional installation going.

    Every single time I relocate the User folder Windows' installation process goes into the "skip product key, change settings, 'Just a moment...', Reboot!" loop that ManhattanMarc described. Furthermore every time I've re-booted into OOBE with the User folder relocated off of the OS drive/partition the start menu in the default Administrator account has refused to work indicating that even on a fresh, clean installation the issue persists. Heck, I even had two separate instances of the bootup following the sysprep call resulting in error messages popping up saying that I needed to restart the installation process from scratch, and during one of the infinite loop reboots I managed to get an error message to pop up saying something about explorer.exe but not providing anything useful like error codes.

    The .xml file matches what's in the OP, sans differences in drive letters, and I've even cycled between Windows Home and Pro in both installation and .xml file playing "mix and match" when proper pairings failed. Mix and match also failed. I snagged an ISO with the proper install.wim file via the steps mentioned in the OP (IIRC), and still no go. Hell, the first, and only, successful install with the User folder relocated was with an ISO that had install.esd. I've done multiple full installs both with and without network and internet access to no avail. Heck, even going through the UEFI stuff to reformat the OS drive as GPT instead of MBR to match the (4TB) drive I wanted to put the user profiles on didn't seem to help.

    I'm rather getting to my wits' end at this point as I'd like to give Windows 10 a fair shot based on how it's actually letting me utilize the HD4600 GPU integrated with my i5-4690k while Windows 7 would just crash/reboot as soon as my desktop got past the BIOS stage when I had the iGPU enabled. Edit: I quite simply have severe reservations about utilizing an OS with user profiles on the same partition as the OS. I've already had one instance where Windows crashed so hard that I couldn't access the partition afterwards and lost thousands of hours of gameplay as a result. I'm not particularly eager to either risk having that happen again or having to duplicate my entire user profile on a separate drive because developers got stuck on stupid and started hiding files all over the user profile directory structure.

    I seriously miss the days when game developers had a brain on the matter and saved config files, game saves, and so on in the directory you installed the game to.
    Last edited by Marikhen; 21 Apr 2016 at 07:10.
      My Computer

  2. Posts : 1
    Windows 10 Home

    Hi Kari, thanks so much for this tutorial! It helped me move the Users folder to another drive.
    However, as you said: 'In Windows 10, this method might cause existing user accounts losing Start Menu and Search functionality. All new accounts will be OK.'

    I chose to follow your second workaround, following your example in the video. After the whole process I have still problems with e.g. start menu, Edge and Store from the task bar.
    So I tried your first workaround: add a new user, copy everything and delete the old one.

    So I run WIN-R --> control panel --> ... ---> ... --> add someone else to this PC and then: a grey square window pops up, disappears after 2 secs and then nothing happens.

    Any idea to solve this problem?
      My Computer

  3. Posts : 1
    Windows 10 Pro

    Hiya folks.

    Just wanted to chime in here and say that I'm having a very similar problem as previously reported by other users. I get stuck in the " Express/ Custom settings" loop as well. Booting into audit mode on the built in admin account works, but the Start/ Cortana / metro apps are not working, even if I create a new user account. All the methods I've tried insofar result in the same problem ( start and search issues.)

    It really seems like they don't want us to be able to have control over our own PCs. I've been trying to figure this out for the past week, so I'll keep plugging away in hopes of finding a solution.
      My Computer

  4. Posts : 2
    Win 10, Android, Linux

    Hey, just logged in for this tutorial. I liked it very much and it was a lot of fun to do. Well, more or less unfortunatly espacially a lot.
    When doing it on my HP 550-178ng it happend that I could not reactivate the microsoft account user. That kind of sucked. I tried the work around it (and learned a lot about win10 but ultimatly failed and had to set the system up fresh again with only a dummy acc. Since I did not care for the dummy account I just skipped the deactivation part completly-.
    So basically I could not activate non local deactivated accs and active acc. could not use the start menu. I do not know if it has to do with HP Software or with an windows update. At Any rate I just wanted to share that and say many thanks for the guide. It was a very teaching and interesting experiance. (Since the PC was new resetting it was not an issue. Did it a couple of times anyway trying to somehow convince HP not to set up their packup acc on the ssd. No chance. )
    So many thanks again. Great guide
      My Computer

  5. Posts : 17,661
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter

    TheDon said:
    So basically I could not activate non local deactivated accs and active acc. could not use the start menu.
    Hello TheDon, welcome to the Ten Forums.

    First, I have been wondering why a few users report this Start and Search issue, trying to think why it never happens to me although I do this procedure incredibly often, Thinking that I install every new build of Windows 10 to multiple real and virtual machines, currently running Build 14328 on each, I must have done the sysprep relocation process over 100 times already in Windows 10 alone, not to speak about previous Windows versions Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1, in which all I have also always used this method.

    I tried to think if there's anything I always do or do not but which might be so small detail that I have not told it in tutorial because I have thought it to be totally meaningless.

    I found one thing, one thing only, something I do not mention in this tutorial but which is an essential part of my way to work with Windows: I never, I repeat I absolutely completely totally never set up a new user in Windows as MS account user. I always create a new user, be it the initial user when installing Windows or an additional user created later as a local user, sign in to that local account and only when this local user has been fully created and signed in, use the Settings app to switch to MS account.

    I need to do some extensive testing before telling if this affects the way a sysprepped system handles the user accounts,

    That being said, I am not sure I understood your account deactivation / activation issue correctly.

    For all purposes apart sign-in and MS account integrated services like OneDrive, all user accounts in Windows 10 are seen by the system as local accounts. Even if the user signs in to Windows with MS account, for the system this is a local user TenFo (Windows truncates the user profile name for MS accounts to five characters). Here a screenshot to show how for instance Windows Advanced User Account Control Panel sees the user name of MS account user
    Move Users Folder Location in Windows 10-2016_04_25_18_42_411.png
    (Click screenshots to enlarge.)

    A good example about how Windows system really do not use nor need nor know your MS account name is account deactivation and reactivation. In screenshot below #1 shows that nothing happens when I try to deactivate a user using full MS account name, system only tells me to use correct syntax. But when I try the same using this MS account user's local user name (user profile name), deactivating the user works perfectly (#2). The same trying to reactivate this user; it's a No Go with MS account name (#3), but works using the local user name (#4):
    Move Users Folder Location in Windows 10-2016_04_25_18_46_502.png

    This video explains the way Windows sees and handles user names and user profile names:

    Video from thread Windows 10 instructional videos by Ten Forums members - Windows 10 Forums

      My Computer

  6. Posts : 2
    Win 10, Android, Linux

    Thanks for the replay.
    Yes, the useraccount I could not reactivate was set up using an already existing Microsoft account.

    I have no issue right now. I had 3 tries thats all.
    First I totally locked me out of my system. I think I tried to write the accounts on the DVD or something like that. All accounts deactivated and I could not enter anymore no windows setup started either. So that was an interesting mess up. I was able to reenter windows using a Windows DVD to enable the console in the login screen and was able to create a new account and login. I was however unable to make this account an admin. So much fun and a lot of learning going on there but more or less a **** up.

    On the second try it more or less worked, but I was unable to reactivate my microsoft account, lokal accounts were fine. So again factory restore and starting anew.

    This time I did not bother with setting anything up. I just started with an account I created to be burnt. Entered, and started the process at the step of creating the XML file.

    Everything worked just fine, and when I entered the local account (which I did not deactivate) could not use the start menu properly.
    But all acount created after activating the XML file worked just fine. So I just deleted the "broken" account.

    So I am quite fine. I just wanted to give some feedback. That my impression is, that the safest way was setting up a account to be lost after a fresh installation and then move the user directory. So after using it three times I could probably do it from memory now. (Well, writing the xml file probably not) and as far as I know everything is fine.
    But thanks again for the additional background information.

      My Computer

  7. Posts : 17,661
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter

    TheDon said:
    On the second try it more or less worked, but I was unable to reactivate my microsoft account, lokal accounts were fine. So again factory restore and starting anew.
    Just to be sure that we are on the same page, there's no need to deactivate / reactivate any accounts when doing this procedure on a clean new fresh install (Method One in tutorial). Existing accounts need to be deactivated and later reactivated only when doing this on an existing, already installed Windows system (Method Two), the procedure being fairly simple as shown in second video in tutorial:

    • Activate the built-in user account
    • Sign out from all normal user accounts
    • Sign in with built-in user account
    • Deactivate all existing normal user accounts
    • Sysprep as told in Method Two in this tutorial
    • After the reboot create a temporarily dummy account
    • Immediately after entering desktop activate the built-in admin account
    • Sign out from dummy account
    • Sign in with built-in user account
    • Reactivate all existing normal user accounts

    That's it.
      My Computer

  8. Posts : 6
    win 7

    Upgrade to 10 with ISO

    Hi Kari

    Firstly thank you for your wonderful tutorials and advice over several years since I first SysPrepped my 7 installation. I have been able to manage without posting to this stage but now it is time to upgrade and it's getting a little complicated! My version is Windows 10 Pro.

    I have so far downloaded an iso with Media Creation Tool which I have on the desktop and a disk with the files extracted on it in H: drive.

    Of course I have just now found your post clarifying my question below! My thanks remain however and the last question about the network disconnection.

    I now need to move Users and ProgramData back from D: to C: but I am not sure of the reference to use in this line in relocate.xml. So far I have the following which doesn't look like it will work to me!
    "<cpi: offlineImage cpi:source="wim:H:\sources\install.wim#Windows 10 Pro" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" />"
    as I have no install.wim, just the setup.exe file or the iso itself. Could you straighten me out please?

    Also is it still necessary in doing the upgrade to disconnect from the network?

    Last edited by Lowan; 25 Apr 2016 at 23:40. Reason: Found partial answer
      My Computer

  9. Posts : 17,661
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter

    Lowan said:
    I have so far downloaded an iso with Media Creation Tool which I have on the desktop and a disk with the files extracted on it in H: drive.
    Welcome to Ten Forums Lowan.

    To start with, the best would be for you to backup your user data to external disk, clean install Windows 10 activating it with your Windows 7 product key, and restore the user data.

    That being said, if you prefer the upgrade, start with getting the install media with install.wim file instead of install.esd file, download Windows 10 ISO. See this tutorial for instructions: Windows 10 ISO Download - Windows 10 Forums

    Next, read the last part of this tutorial titled Upgrade through, ask if you have any questions about it, anything I have explained badly or something you don't understand.

    I recommend backing up your Windows completely, creating a system image of your Windows 7 installation including all disks and all partitions on both system disk and the disk where relocated Users and ProgramData are located before proceeding with the upgrade. Windows 7 could be upgraded to Windows 10 even with relocated Users folder but as you have also relocated ProgramData in Windows 7, you need to move them back to C: before the upgrade.

    It should go OK for you but as there are added elements to increase the risk of something going wrong, and to protect myself from "Why didn't you tell me that?" , I very strongly suggest you do not start the process without creating a system image.

    To back up your Windows 7 you can use its built-in imaging tool: Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup - Windows 7 Help Forums

    You can of course also use any third party imaging tool, fellow geek @Wolfgang has made an excellent tutorial about using the free Macrium Reflect: Imaging with free Macrium - Windows 7 Help Forums

    In this post you'll find videos about how to use the free EaseUS ToDo Backup to image your Windows 7: Windows 10 instructional videos by Ten Forums members - Page 98 - Windows 10 Forums

    Lowan said:
    Also is it still necessary in doing the upgrade to disconnect from the network?
    No. It is recommend your PC is connected to network and Internet when upgrading.

      My Computer

  10. Posts : 6
    win 7

    Thank you Kari, for giving me such a complete perspective of the task at hand and the options from the experienced point of view of an old geek! I have been keeping system backups for a long time due to your advice and wouldn't dream of starting anything like this without doing a fresh one. I also have everything backed up on my network drives.

    I am reassured that an upgrade can be done using the downloaded Windows ISO as I wasn't sure about that. However I will reassess the possibility of a clean install - though it is such a pain to go through all the installations again.

    On that point, how much of Users can you simply replace after reinstalling everything in a clean install? There are programs like Photoshop/Bridge/Camera Raw with caches and so on that take up most of my Users space. Any idea if there are limitations to how much you can simply copy over? Microsoft for instance?

      My Computer


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