Move Your Documents and Settings USERNAME Profile Off of the C: Drive

Posted June 3, 2006 by ibe98765 in Windows

Microsoft (and too many other amateurs) dump everything onto the C: drive. They are not cognizant of the advantages of using partitioning or logical drives.

The following tutorial is a power-user tip that relatively easily allows you to move ALL your personalized settings in C:\Documents and Settings to another partition. This is simpler than using TweakUI, X-Setup, etc.

I keep my settings on my D: drive. This way, if I have to wipe the C: drive to refresh Windows, I can easily get most of my settings and old files back instead of starting from ground zero. This has worked for me in Win2k and WinXP and has made systems refreshes much easier over the years.

Note that you are really just changing one registry sub-key here. The rest is just to log off the user account, copy the settings to the new location, and then log on to the user account.

Step 1
1. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList.
2. Under this key, there will be some number of profiles (usually six). Each of these represents a user name that you will find under C:\Documents and Settings.
3. Click on each PROFILE key entry, and look at the value ProfileImagePath to identify which one represents your user name.
4. Inside the registry editor, using regedit or a clone registry editing program (such as Registrar Lite), edit this ProfileImagePath value that represents your user name and CHANGE the path to where you want to move your settings. In my case, I wanted to move my settings from C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME to “D:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME”.
5. Save this new path value in the registry editing program.
6. Now export the whole profile key that contains this value. You will be prompted for a file name to save the exported information to. Pick a location on your hard disk (not on the C drive) and export the key. When you finish the export and look at the output file, it should look something like this (Note that exported filename locations inside the registry always represent a single “\” character with two “\\” characters.):

REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\S-1-5-21-220523388-484763869-725345543-1003]
"ProfileImagePath"="D:\\Documents and Settings\\USERNAME"
"Sid"=hex01,05,00,00,00,00,00,05,15,00,00,00,7c,eb,24,0d,dd,e8,e4,1c,07,e5,3b,\2b,eb,03,00,00
"Flags"=dword00000000
"State"=dword00000100
"CentralProfile"=""
"ProfileLoadTimeLow"=dword68b90756
"ProfileLoadTimeHigh"=dword01c5b12b
"RefCount"=dword00000001
"RunLogonScriptSync"=dword00000030
"OptimizedLogonStatus"=dword0000000b

7. Delete everything below your new path name. It should now look like this:

REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\S-1-5-21-220523388-484763869-725345543-1003]
"ProfileImagePath"="D:\\Documents and Settings\\USERNAME"

Step 2
1. Now, do a full reboot. (Do not just log off/on.). Then sign into the ADMINISTRATOR account.
2. Copy C:\Documents and Settings\Username folder (including all sub-folders) to the new path location where the target user’s personal settings are to be saved (D:\Documents and Settings\XYZ, in this example).
3. Log off the Administrator account and back onto the User account
4. Run the registry file you previously exported to and edited with the .REG extension (right-click it and choose merge)
5. Reboot the computer again, and log on to the USER account.
6. Go to C:\Documents and Settings\Username, and try to delete the complete folder structure.
8. If Windows allows you to do this, then you have successfully transferred your settings to the new path location.

9. If Windows says that you cannot delete the complete folder structure because it or something in it is required by the system, then you have done something wrong. Open regedit, and make sure that you have modified the correct location for the user account and that it has been correctly updated.
10. If you have the right location and it has not been updated, figure out why.
11. You might have to do a system restore if you have incorrectly made the changes, so make a backup before and be prepared to do this if necessary.
12. Generally, an imaging program that can be initiated from DOS is the best way to restore everything if you run into problems.

The Conversation

Follow the reactions below and share your own thoughts.

  • dev pandey

    i think its good idea but i can’t to make like that plz can u give to Essy to move Idea

  • Sausages

    Why do you need to do this in two steps with a registry import/export? Can’t you just log in as Administrator to make the Regsitry changes, then copy the profile files to the new location, reboot and log in as the ‘moved’ user?
    I can’t see the point in making the registry changes, exporting them, then logging in as Administrator and re-importing them again?

  • beandogger

    This totally screwed up my computer. Luckily I backed up my computer.

  • http://mopheat.blogspot.com mopheat

    Thanks for your information…

  • alan

    Since I am trying to migrate awy from Micro$oft, I ALWAYS install Linux on any computer I own, This allowed me to use Linux to copy the entire Documents and Settings folder to the destination drive. I then downloaded one of the free registry find and replaceutilites from the net and use it to replace al instances of [root drive letter]:Documents and Settings with [target drive letter]:Documents and Settings. I also checked to make sure there were no other registry values referencing the old folder eg. %systemroot%Documents and Settings and changed all that I found.

    I had to use explorer to hide the two system folders in Documents and Settings. the only really wierd thing was that when I rebooted, Notepad opened displaying the contents of a file called desktop.ini. A quick search of the net for the contents of the file led me to the following MS support article http://support.microsoft.com/kb/330132 .Followed the instructions and everything seems fine now. I have moved my home folder off the root drive in Linux anf it is very straightforward compared to this.

  • http://www.petruza.com.ar Petruza

    Under the same key, you can find the value “ProfilesDirectory” wich holds the default directory ( C:Documents and settings ) where new profiles will be created.

    So if you don’t want to do this over and over for every new user you create, you can change its value here:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionProfileListProfilesDirectory

    • Cyrix96

      I have tried this, but when I make the change to D: drive and create a new profile, I get an error message logging in with the new user saying it can’t find it’s profile. Are there other settings that must be changed as well?

  • siva

    thanks for ur help?

  • Anonymous

    My edited and saved registry file also appeared in hexadecimal, but it worked just fine anyway.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! This was very helpful!

    I’d add one more number to Step 2 (#0.) those instructions:

    Step 2
    0. Create a new Admin User Account. Log out or your User Account and Log into the new Admin User Account.
    1. Now ….

  • P Seaman

    Tried and failed on the Copy… Could not copy several PRF files or the CardServices folder
    Was unable to continue with this solution.

  • Rem

    I like Richard’s solution of mounting the new Documents and Settings partition over the C:Documents and Settings path, and also for the C:Program files

    Seems slicker, without having to mess around with the Registry (not an issue for me)

    I’m about to clone my physical partitions to a VMimage with VMWare Converter, so I’m wondering if this technique would be portable to the VM, (making the Windows partition image much smaller).
    Do you think this would work?
    Would I be able to mount the Docs & Setts in the VM (or would there be a locking conflict?)

    Everything Ghosted, so I’ll try anyway, but would appreciate anyone’s thoughts.

    Cheers,
    Rem

  • troybastydalayoan

    hello

  • Tom Ford Sunglasses

    thanks for this post, it can help those who has lack of knowledge in their computer programs. but i haven’t tried it yet.

  • Sharon

    Hi, Richard! I have no idea if you’ll ever see this, but I figured I’d give it a try. I’ve tried everything to get my docs & settings off the C: drive and I’m pretty frustrated. Your solution sounded so doable to me, but I can’t get BartPE to build because of my Dell. I’ve read threads about fixes, and tried the Dell plugin, but no luck. I’m afraid I’m way in over my head with this stuff. Is there anything that works better with a Dell, just so I can get these docs off my OS drive – or did I have a 2nd drive installed for nothing? Thanks in advance if you happen to read this and answer.
    Sharon

  • Anonymous

    i’m trying to follow the instructions above, but when i go to my directories, there is no c:documents and settings

    Please help

    • BWBear

      Moving Documents and Settings can be a problematic venture and, from experience, involves quite a lot of troubleshooting after the main changes have been made. Richard I really like your solution of mounting an NTFS volume into the empty directory. It is simple (no registry delving), effective and a lot less likely to cause problems than trying to point windows xp to a different location. I have now done this on my home desktop and it’s working great.

      There is one minor snag, but certainly not a deal breaker. Windows XP has a bug that makes it impossible to delete (to recycle bin) folders from a mounted drive. So, imagine I have mounted drive “D:” to “C:Document and Settings”. If I attempt to delete any folder from within “C:Document and Settings” an access denied error message will appear. The problem does not affect files, only folders, and all other files and folder operations (create, access, move, rename, etc.) are not affected.

      As I understand it, the problem relates to windows attempting to move the file to the wrong recycle folder. There are several work arounds:

      1) Permanently delete the folder instead of deleting to recycle bin, by holding down shift whilst pressing/clicking delete.
      2) Accessing the folder from the mounted drive directly (i.e. D:) instead of going via the folder it is mounted on to.
      3) Cut and paste the folder to the C: root (or any other location on C: other than the mounted drive folder) and then delete as usual.

      For more info see: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/243514.

    • BWBear

      mc31 are you using Windows XP or a newer version? I think this folder is now called “C:Users” in Vista/Windows 7 but others may like to confirm this.

  • BWBear

    Moving Documents and Settings can be a problematic venture and, from experience, involves quite a lot of troubleshooting after the main changes have been made. Richard I really like your solution of mounting an NTFS volume into the empty directory. It is simple (no registry delving), effective and a lot less likely to cause problems than trying to point windows xp to a different location. I have now done this on my home desktop and it’s working great.

    There is one minor snag, but certainly not a deal breaker. Windows XP has a bug that makes it impossible to delete (to recycle bin) folders from a mounted drive. So, imagine I have mounted drive “D:” to “C:Document and Settings”. If I attempt to delete any folder from within “C:Document and Settings” an access denied error message will appear. The problem does not affect files, only folders, and all other files and folder operations (create, access, move, rename, etc.) are not affected.

    As I understand it, the problem relates to windows attempting to move the file to the wrong recycle folder. There are several work arounds:

    1) Permanently delete the folder instead of deleting to recycle bin, by holding down shift whilst pressing/clicking delete.
    2) Accessing the folder from the mounted drive directly (i.e. D:) instead of going via the folder it is mounted on to.
    3) Cut and paste the folder to the C: root (or any other location on C: other than the mounted drive folder) and then delete as usual.

    For more info see: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/243514.

  • F0rre5ter

    How about putting the stuff in red at the top.

    • Anonymous

      Red is still red. No one should ever start doing this without having read through it all first.

  • ray

    Can’t you just do this?

    How to move My Documents folder to a new location
    Ok, so now to the main point of this post. Moving your My Documents folder is actually quite a simple process and can be done by anyone. Here’s how:
    1. Right-click on the My Documents folder and choose Properties

    2. Click Move and choose the desired location for your My Documents folder. Remember, it would be best to move it to a different PHYSICAL drive if possible. If not, move it to a different partition at least.

    3. Click Ok and then click Apply. You’ll be asked whether you want to move all of the current documents to the new location or not. Choose Yes.

    And that’s it! Your documents will be moved to the new location and when you click the My Documents icon on your desktop, it’ll open just as before.

    • BWBear

      Thanks for your comments Ray, but that’s not really what we’re talking about here. It is very easy to move the “My Documents” folder to any location, but not so for moving entire user profiles, or the “C:Documents and Settings” folder itself.

      My favourite method is the one above from Richard (anonymous). Mounting another NTFS volume to the folder is a really simple and clean way of achieving what we’re after without worrying about rogue programs with hardwired directory paths and endless registry editing.

  • b0knarf

    The method I used to achieve this involved copying “documents and settings” to another partition then changing the drive letter for everything @ “HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerUser Shell Folders” and “HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerShell Folders”.
    Lots of logging off and on and rebooting. Some folder regeneration has occurred.

    I wish I had come across this recipe sooner. I am going to try it after I reinstall xp. It should save me a lot of time. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Lost right outta the shute! How do I “1. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsNTCurrentVersionProfileList”?

  • Anonymous

    Gotta love this THX ibe98765 worked perfect!!
    If any of you have a problem, just don’t try to think, just do exactly what is stated and NOTHING else 😀

  • GuestX

    Can you just use NTFS junction point to point to directory on another drive/ partition?

  • Salabim

    Not a great idea at all, for this to be a safe way of working, you have to have a recent backup of C:/ AND D:/ drives instead of only C:

    ….besides, what do you win with moving this userfolder to D:/ ???????????

  • Azhoon1980

    i want change my username and all proreties is changed and document and setting

  • Phyiphyozaw

    is this work with the domain user ????

  • Kc Huan

    Yes. make sure u give full right to domain users

  • Aslam

    i am having windows 7 professional in my laptop, i am getting two profile path in c drive .–one is users , another is document and setting. whenever i am saving any document it is getting saved in said two places.

    how can delete the folder document and setting from c drive

    aslam,
    shillong

  • Javalotodo

    Works FINE.
    For those who had configured Welcome screen won`t be able to login with Administrator’s account. You have to make sure Welcome screen is disabled, and that you will be able to login as Administrator. Try it first !!

  • somebody

    Also remember to copy the All Users and Default User profile to the new folder.

  • xp boy

    cheers, didn’t think it would work but it did! brilliant!

  • David

    Thank you so much, it works FINE!

  • Alison

    Windows 8….How do you merge a new, inadvertently created administrator account with an old administrator account that has been demoted to a standard account?

    My friend has a Windows 8 computer. When he installed a Mozy on-line backup, he must have been prompted to create a new administrator account.

    Now his old stuff is in a standard account that is not easily accessed.

    He says the new administrator has “taken over my computer.”

    He refuses to elevate the old account to “administrator” because he thinks that account will not be password protected.

    Any easy answers?