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.):


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

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


[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.