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  1.    16 Apr 2017 #1
    Join Date : Apr 2017
    Teh REAL No. California
    Posts : 11
    Windows 10 Professional

    Restore Users Profiles back to C:\Users without data folders


    I don't remember when, but I availed myself of the free Windows 10 upgrade sometime back. I was using 8.1 and I had, at some point, moved C:\Users and all its associated folders to E:. Everything has worked fine and Win10 didn't have a problem. I did notice that there was still a C:\Users, but the only folder it contains is Administrator.

    This was probably not a good move to make. Moving data folders, like Pictures, Documents, etc., is fine, but moving the actual User Profiles was not such a good idea. My E: drive is no longer large enough to hold all my photos and other data. I bought a replacement drive large enough, but having my Users Profiles on E: is now a problem and I want to move them back to C:, only without the data folders.

    I can delete all the existing data files from those default folders (I have backed them all up), so now I need to find a way to restore the Users folder and contents to C:. I've tried researching the problem, but found nothing that specifically applies to my situation. The TenForums article, "Relocating Users folder on an existing Windows installation" Seems to be as close as I can get. Unfortunately, this part has made me take pause and ask you all for help:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kari
    Be sure that the drive into which you are relocating the Users folder is empty or at least does not contain any Windows system folders, especially Users folder or parts of it from any current or previous Windows installation.
    As I said, I want to restore E:\Users back to C:\Users, which already exists, with the single folder Administrator in it.

    Do you know what I should do? Maybe Kari's still around and can reply? Any guidance would be appreciated.

    Jim
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  2.    16 Apr 2017 #2
    Join Date : Oct 2013
    A Finnish expat in Germany
    Posts : 12,941
    Windows 10 Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim McClain View Post
    Do you know what I should do? Maybe Kari's still around and can reply? Any guidance would be appreciated.
    If you used the Sysprep method to relocate the Users folder to E: drive, you can use the same method to relocate it back to C: drive. The warning you quoted is when doing this in a clean install, it does not apply when moving Users folder back to C: drive which will always be accepted and OK for Windows.

    Follow these simple steps (looks more complicated than it in reality is!):

    • Create a new, temporary local user account, name it as you wish like "Dummy" or such (tutorial)
    • Change Dummy's account type to administrator (tutorial)
    • Sign out from all other user accounts, sign in to Dummy
    • Disable all other user accounts except Dummy, the one you are currently signed in (tutorial). No worries, accounts and their data will remain intact, deactivating (disabling) them temporarily is done because sometimes Sysprep causes existing user accounts to lose Start and Search / Cortana functionality. When we are ready we will again activate (enable) all old user accounts
    • When done, open an elevated Notepad (right click and select Run as Administrator) copy the following code and paste it to a new text document]:
      Code:
      <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
      <unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend">
          <settings pass="oobeSystem">
              <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
                  <FolderLocations>
                      <ProfilesDirectory>C:\Users</ProfilesDirectory>
                  </FolderLocations>
              </component>
          </settings>
      </unattend>
    • Save the file in C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep folder as unattend.xml, selecting Save As Type: All files. NOTICE: Do not change the save location, do not change the file name. It must be named as unattend.xml and it must be saved in C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep folder!
    • Close all applications
    • Press WIN + R to open Run, type following command and press Enter:
      %windir%\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /oobe /reboot
    • Let Sysprep run and move Users back to C: drive
    • In a few minutes Windows starts the Welcome Mode, you need to select your region and so on as if this was first time you set up Windows. When it comes to a screen wanting you to create a user account, create an offline (local) account naming it for instance Dummy2
    • When ready and back on desktop, enable all old original user accounts (tutorial)
    • Sign out from Dummy2, sign in to your old original admin account
    • Remove users Dummy and Dummy2

    That's it. Keep on your mind that the more user data various user profile folders contain, the longer the process will take as there is more to move.

    Do not forget to create a system image backup before doing this! If you come back telling something didn't work and you can't boot the PC anymore, my reply will be "Restore the image backup, then let's see where it went wrong". If you at this point tell that you don't have a backup to restore, I'll say Good By

    Kari
    Last edited by Kari; 17 Apr 2017 at 04:05.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  3.    17 Apr 2017 #3
    Join Date : Apr 2017
    Teh REAL No. California
    Posts : 11
    Windows 10 Professional
    Thread Starter

    Thanks so much for your reply, Kari. I have followed your instructions to the letter, right up to this point:
    Save the file in C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep folder as unattend.xml, selecting Save As Type: All files. NOTICE: Do not change the save location, do not change the file name. It must be named as unattend.xml and it must be saved in C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep folder!
    I don't understand why, but I was not able to save to that folder because the error message said I needed administrator permissions. I set up the Dummy user account as an administrator and was able to use the Command Prompt (Admin) to disable all other accounts (actually, only one existed, Jim, which has admin permissions).

    So, can I save that file from within my original account? Of course, I'm going to try, but I won't go forward from there until I hear back. Even though I have an image backup, I don't want to "practice" doing this.

    Thanks for your help.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  4.    17 Apr 2017 #4
    Join Date : Apr 2017
    Teh REAL No. California
    Posts : 11
    Windows 10 Professional
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim McClain View Post
    So, can I save that file from within my original account? Of course, I'm going to try...
    Tried and failed. My original account IS an administrator account, but not an Elevated Administrator account. I found out that there is a hidden Administrator user that is an Elevated Admin.

    For some reason, that account is not able to open a browser. That doesn't seem like a good idea to me, but who am I to say? So, I came here to your instructions using my smartphone and manually typed the XML file out and saved it.

    Now, do I continue with your instructions using the Elevated Admin account, or revert to the temporary Dummy account? And when it's time to disable all the other accounts, will I be able to disable the Administrator account (I think I know the answer, since I used the Command Prompt (Admin) to enable it, I should be able to reverse that)?

    For now, I will wait to hear back from you. I can be patient.

    R'gards,

    Jim
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  5.    17 Apr 2017 #5
    Join Date : Oct 2013
    A Finnish expat in Germany
    Posts : 12,941
    Windows 10 Pro

    OK, I had forgotten one crucial step out from instructions: Notepad must be elevated to be able to save under Windows system folder. I now edited that step in my original post:

    [*]When done, open an elevated Notepad (right click and select Run as Administrator) copy the following code and paste it to a new text document]:
    A workaround is to save the file to desktop, then manually move it to C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep folder.

    The Dummy account is important in case there's some issues with sign in after the Sysprep. You can run Sysprep from the Dummy account, or from built-in administrator account. In no case do not use your own, original account, it must be disabled / deactivated when you run Sysprep!

    The built-in admin account cannot use UWP apps (also known as Store apps) like Edge browser. When using built-in admin account, use Internet Explorer instead, you can open it by pressing WIN + R, typing iexplore (missing R at the end of this command is not a typo!) and hitting Enter.

    Main thing is, the answer file is exactly where I said it has to be, named exactly as I said. Don't take this personally but I am skeptical when you say you typed it in your phone instead of copy & pasting, let's hope you got it correctly!

    Kari
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  6.    17 Apr 2017 #6
    Join Date : Apr 2017
    Teh REAL No. California
    Posts : 11
    Windows 10 Professional
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by Kari View Post
    OK, I had forgotten one crucial step out from instructions: Notepad must be elevated to be able to save under Windows system folder. I now edited that step in my original post
    Now you sound like a normal human being. I had you on a pedestal.

    The Dummy account is important in case there's some issues with sign in after the Sysprep. You can run Sysprep from the Dummy account, or from built-in administrator account. In no case do not use your own, original account, it must be disabled / deactivated when you run Sysprep!
    Got it.

    Don't take this personally but I am skeptical when you say you typed it in your phone instead of copy & pasting, let's hope you got it correctly!
    I understand. I didn't type it ON my phone, I only used my phone to visit this website so I could see the code and type it in notepad on my computer. I've been manually typing markup (XHTML, CSS, etc.) for almost 20 years, so I know how critical getting it right is. I double-checked it for accuracy.

    I'll let you know how it goes soon.

    Jim
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  7.    17 Apr 2017 #7
    Join Date : Apr 2017
    Teh REAL No. California
    Posts : 11
    Windows 10 Professional
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim McClain View Post
    I'll let you know how it goes soon.
    Even as I was typing that, I thought, maybe I shouldn't say "soon." In preparation for moving my User Profiles back to C:, I deleted all my data files - I had already copied them to the new HDD. I failed to notice that part of that data included my large Outlook email data files. Then I couldn't get Outlook to open because I didn't close it prior to the copy or the deletion. It's a very fragile system that, apparently, many other people have had similar difficulties with and very little solid information from Microsoft.

    I finally had to create a new Outlook profile and recreate all of my email addresses and oh what a huge hassle. Been up all night and have made no headway. I gotta get a couple hours rest because I have a class to attend with a bunch of Highway Patrol cops - you gotta be sharp and act like you know what you're doing around them or they give you a ticket right there in front of the whole class. Well, maybe not a ticket, but it will make my friend look bad. She's the local commander and the class instructor.

    So, I'll put this off until tonight, maybe even tomorrow, depending how I feel. I'm feeling old and feeble at the moment.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  8.    18 Apr 2017 #8
    Join Date : Apr 2017
    Teh REAL No. California
    Posts : 11
    Windows 10 Professional
    Thread Starter

    I've followed the instructions and am at the step where I am waiting for Windows to start after running the sys prep command. I have been staring at the spinner below the blue Windows logo for over a half hour. There are no data files to move because I deleted them all from Documents, Pictures, etc. before I started. So, I am concerned that it is taking so long.

    I'm using my smartphone to type this, so I will check back later for any replies. Maybe its supposed to take this long.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  9.    18 Apr 2017 #9
    Join Date : Oct 2013
    A Finnish expat in Germany
    Posts : 12,941
    Windows 10 Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim McClain View Post
    I've followed the instructions and am at the step where I am waiting for Windows to start after running the sys prep command. I have been staring at the spinner below the blue Windows logo for over a half hour. There are no data files to move because I deleted them all from Documents, Pictures, etc. before I started. So, I am concerned that it is taking so long.

    I'm using my smartphone to type this, so I will check back later for any replies. Maybe its supposed to take this long.
    That happens sometimes, although it is not normal, indicating that there might be some underlying issues. It is relatively safe to reset PC if it remains on rotating circle too long. I would wait another half an hour and then reset.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  10.    18 Apr 2017 #10
    Join Date : Apr 2017
    Teh REAL No. California
    Posts : 11
    Windows 10 Professional
    Thread Starter

    About 20 minutes after my last post, Windows started up. I didn't have to select a region. It did provide options and I selected Express something or other. Soon, it booted into my Dummy account - didn't ask me to create a new account. I followed the rest of your instructions to activate the other accounts and remove the Dummy account.

    I checked to see that everything was where it was supposed to be and it seemed to be. The folders for Documents, Pictures, etc. were empty, as they should have been. I then shut down, unplugged and disconnected the old E: drive and reconnected the new HDD, which was originally used as G:. When Windows started back up, I used Disk Management to rename the G: drive to E: and restarted. Now I have E:, with all my data files.

    Library folders do not point to the E: drive yet. I will do a search to see if there is a tutorial for that, to make sure I do it right.

    I'm not going to mark this thread Solved yet, but it looks like it's almost done. I sure do appreciate your help, Kari.

    Jim
      My ComputerSystem Spec

 
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