Windows 10: Move Users Folder Location in Windows 10
Finnish but not finished
My biggest concern was my own a** . I wanted to stress the fact that although MS has changed their policy and upgrade now works without issues even with relocated Users folder, the fact that you have also relocated ProgramData which is no longer supported in Windows 8 and later makes it a bit more complicated.
I've had my share of members posting something like "I skipped this and that part of your instructions and now my system is dead. I blame you!"
As you can see I am an egoistic coward, the main purpose of my previous post being to cover my a**
I cannot tell you how different programs when reinstalled react and handle older user data. If you have any doubts and want to assure everything works as before, the upgrade might be the correct solution for you.
Personally I have never had any issues with user data when doing a clean fresh install. Before doing it I copy my existing user data to an external target, reinstall Windows and my software, and finally restore the user data to respective folders in new install.
Moving the USERS folder
I'm sorry to bother you with this, but I'm going a bit crazy trying to understand how to move the Users folder to another drive in Windows 10. Hope you don't mind me asking for help. Maybe you can spell out some of the confusion. (By the way, I'm a Spanish ex-pat living in Germany too.)
Right now I have a Dell desktop computer with a regular hard disk of 2 TB. This is currently my C drive. I want to install a SSD drive of 256 GB in which I only want to have Windows and program files, and leave the 2 TB normal disk for files only. My current space usage for the main Windows folders is the following:
/Windows 23 GB
/Program Data 32 GB
/Program Files 28 GB
/Program Files (x86) 16 GB
So I concluded that all of these would fit confortably in the 256 GB SSD HD.
BUT... The USERS folder uses a hell of a lot of GB. This folder would not fit in the new C drive.
Then I started reading your article and thought: "Great, I'm saved". But towards the end I started to get confused (my fault, not yours). So my questions are:
1) Does my plan of installing a new 256 GB SSD drive and then installing Windows there and then moving the USERS folder to the old drive make any sense?
2) Will having all the main folders of Windows in C and the USERS folder in D make Windows slower?
3) What should I do with all the Windows folders in the old drive once I install Windows in the new drive? Shall I just delete them manually? And what about the old USERS folder? Delete it too?
4) Is there anything I'm misunderstanding about drive space, Windows folders or anything else?
Thanks a lot for your time,
Finnish but not finished
Hi Daniel, welcome to the Ten Forums.
To start with, if I got you correctly you would like to do a clean install. The post you quoted is about moving, relocating the Users folder in an already installed Windows and therefore does not apply to your case.
This is how I would do it:
- Create a new empty partition at the end of your 2 TB drive, just big enough to store your personal data. Shrink other partitions if needed. Copy your documents, pictures, videos, music, everything personal to this new partition. Do not copy the AppData and its subfolders, it's never a good idea to use old appdata in new installation (exception: it's quite safe to copy appdata folders for browsers from AppData\Local and AppData\Roaming folders and import these to new installation after the browsers have been reinstalled, this way keeping extensions, add-ons, favorites and so on)
- Shutdown the PC
- Unmount HDD, mount SSD, install Windows
- When installation after the last reboot finally arrives to Settings dialog asking if you want to use Express or Custom settings, boot to Audit Mode as told in tutorial with CTRL + SHIFT + F3
- When Windows has rebooted to Audit Mode using the built-in admin credentials, simply shutdown the PC
- Mount the HDD, start the PC. It will automatically return to Audit Mode using built-in admin credentials; in Audit Mode, every restart or shutdown / start brings you back to Audit Mode if you have not specifically told Windows to exit to normal mode
- Open Disk Management and now partition the beginning of the HDD (remove all partitions except the new one at the end at the moment holding your backed up personal data). You can create as many partitions you'd like to, we will use the first partition on the HDD as your User Profiles partition
- Now create the answer file and sysprep as told in tutorial, relocating the Users folder to your newly created User Profile partition at the beginning of the HDD
- When done and you finally arrive to Windows 10 desktop for the first time, restore your backed up personal data from the last partition of the HDD to the respective folders on the new User Profiles partition
- You can now remove the back up partition and extend existing HDD partitions claiming that space, or leave it to be used as a backup partition
That's it. Don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions about the steps told above.
Last edited by Kari; 28 Apr 2016 at 01:59.
Thanks for the welcome and specially thank you for your time and kindness. Highly appreciated!
I'm not sure I understand well what you mean by sysprep, but I'll read the tutorial once again. If I understand correctly, after I install Windows 10 in the SSD I will have the USERS folder in the SSD drive, and the sysprep thing is for moving the USERS folder to the secondary (HHD) drive. Is that correct?
I forgot to mention I have a couple of external HDs. Would it be easier to back up all the documents, pics, videos, etc. to the extermal drive? And if I do that, what would I have to do with the 2 TB HD? Format it?
(I guess once I install Windows 10 on the SSD I don't need the old USER folder any more, right?)
Also... what do you mean exactly when you say "remove all partitions"? Does it mean formatting those partitions? And how do you extend a partition?
Thanks a lot again!
Finnish but not finished
Sysprep (Windows System Preparation Tool) is the native built-in Windows tool that does the job in this procedure, getting instructions about what it is expected to do from a script called Answer File.
If you have external storage available for backing up your personal data, the easiest way is to copy your files to external storage.
I edited my previous post, making the list in it numbered. Check that list: In step 1 you can copy your files to external storage instead of making a new partition on your hard disk. In step 7 you can either remove all partitions and create new ones or simply format existing partitions and use them. In step 9 you can copy your personal data from external storage to your new user folders. You can then forget the step 10.
These tutorials are from our sister site the Seven Forums but they apply to Windows 10, too:
I have decided to take your advice and do a clean install and spend the time on installing all my software. I worry more about my brain than my a*** if an installation goes wrong and I end up having to spend days in confusion sitting at the computer instead of getting on with my life!
There are a couple of things you might clarify for me:
I have 2 SSDs, one for UEFI System (Disk 1) and one old scratch disk for Photoshop
I have 2 HDDs, one with 3 partitions (Disk 3) one of which I use for D:\Users
Brink's tute advises disconnecting all non-system disks for installing.
You advise (somewhere) having an empty Users drive for SysPrepping or at least no Users of ProgramData
Should I disconnect Disk 3 to install Windows and then reconnect just before SysPrepping? At this point I can also delete all files (or at least Users etc) from this partition and manually set correct drive letters.
Is this a sequence that would work?
Finnish but not finished
Again I am somewhat confused. Brink is The Guru; if he says that you should disconnect all other disks than the system disk when clean installing, that's what you should do, and that's also what my instructions are based on.
Yesterday I replied to another member who wants to add a new SSD to host Windows system and use existing HDD for the user profiles. This quote is from that post:
See the highlighted step 3? When installing Windows, a new fresh clean install, I always instruct to unmount all other disks, install Windows only having the system disk, the one where Windows will be installed to connected. That's also how I personally do a clean install.
When Windows is then installed and the user has booted to Audit Mode (steps 4 & 5), I instruct to shutdown the PC and now mount other disk (or disks) in step 6.
Coming from Windows 7 you need to be extra careful copying old application data (step 1). I very strongly you only copy app data belonging to third party browsers (existing app data folders Google, Mozilla, Opera, Opera Software in AppData\Local and AppData\Roaming).
Quite often an installation goes well even when all possible devices, including internal and external hard disks are connected, That's how most normal users do it. Brink's advice is the way I do my clean installs and how I advice others to do. I always disconnect all other devices than mouse, keyboard, display and Windows system disk, reconnecting all devices after Windows has been installed.
Thanks for your patience Kari. The whole process is quite complicated and I am combining steps from 3 different tutorials to get through it - User Folder - Move Location, Clean Install and Clean Install Without Having to Upgrade First. That's why I didn't clearly register your instruction from the earlier post. I can see how to proceed through it all now.
If I end up using any of the old AppData it will be very limited and carefully done I can assure you.
It's very reassuring to know you are there if I have any more questions.
Finnish but not finished
The process is not complicated. I admit, reading the instructions it can look as a procedure from hell but when you do it, you'll notice how easy it is.
That list from another reply of mine is even as if I say it myself quite good. Just follow the instructions, you'll be fine.
Two things I repeatedly tell everyone:
- Before starting, make a system backup in case something does not go as expected
- Read the tutorials involved through before starting
I have created the install DVD as per your instructions yet I still do only have the install.eds file. This is getting frustrating.
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?