Change User Profile Folder Location in Vista

Here lies my experience moving my entire User Profile folder structure, including Default, Public, and any local users.

In my search for a solution, the only two easy ways I found to move the user profile directory locations from the system drive is to

  1. Set the User Profile folder during setup using an unattended install file.
  2. Move the individual folders inside your user profile, which can be done using explorer (which will update the registry keys HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders and HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders).

However, this was not good enough for me, I wanted my actual user profile folder to be moved to a seperate partition/volume, including registry settings.  I discovered that it is not actually that hard, provided you’re comfortable with mass replacing registry keys and values.

Here is how I moved my user profile location.  Please note that I wanted all of the profiles moved, included Public and Default, so some of these steps can be skipped if you do not want that:

  1. Make sure you have a complete backup of your system!
  2. Copy the original Default Profile directory to the new location (e.g. from C:\Users\Default to D:\Users\Default).
  3. Copy the original Public Profile directory to the new location (e.g. from C:\Users\Public to D:\Users\Public).
  4. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList.
  5. Change the value of the Default key to the new user profile location (e.g. D:\Users\Default).
  6. Change the value of the Public key to the new user profile location (e.g. D:\Users\Public).
  7. Change the value of the ProfilesDirectory to the new user profile location (e.g. D:\Users).
  8. At this point, you need to restart and log back in as a different user that has never logged in before and therefore does not have a profile created.  In my case, the Administrator user had never logged in before so I enabled it so that Administrator could log in and used that.  You can enable Administrator login by loading Computer Management and then go to User Accounts, edit the properties for Administrator, and then uncheck Disable Login.
  9. After logging in for the first time with the new user account, you will see “Creating Desktop” and other things like that while Windows is creating your profile.  Note that the new profile should be created in the new location.
  10. After logging in, try to close as many applications as possible.  This will prevent most files from being locked so that you cannot copy them.
  11. Copy the entire original user profiles folder from the original location to the new location (e.g. C:\Users\* to D:\Users\).  (See next step after copy starts).
  12. There are a few things to note during this copy.  There were thousands of .TMP files that were locked and would not copy.  I just skipped these files.  I held down Alt-S so that I could see all of the skipped files and make sure that there were only .TMP files being skipped.  Yes, this took a little while, but at least I was confident that I got all of my files copied.  This process could probably be made easier using the command prompt or powershell.
  13. If, in your case, there are some files that will not copy, you can run procexp.exe, which is file provided by sysinternals.  Then do a Find Handle and search for part of the filename.  procexp will tell you which programs are locking the file.  As long as you closed as many programs as you could, though, this should not happen.
  14. Find and download a program that will do a Search & Replace on the registry.  I will not suggest one because I did not find one single program that worked perfectly.  I ended up downloading a few different freeware applications and using all of them.
  15. Using the Registry Search & Replace program, do a search for the original user profile folder and replace it with the new user profile folder (e.g. search for “C:\Users” and replace with “D:\Users”.  Note that some of the applications I used would only change values and not key names.  However, the keys that needed to be chagned were all related to MuiCache.  I do not know if these actually need to be updated.  I did just to make sure.
  16. Log out.  Log back in with the same user.  Repeat step 14 until there is nothing left to replace.  The reason for this step is that on logout, some programs seem to update the registry using the old user profile path.
  17. Run regedit.exe and do a search for the original user profile path and make sure it does not exist.  The reason for this step is because (as noted in step 13), I did not trust any of the Registry Search & Replace programs I used.  I ended up needing to update about a dozen of the keys and values manually, since the search & replace missed them.
  18. So that you can easily find programs that do not use the registry and hard-coded profile paths, rename your original profile folder (e.g. rename C:\Users to C:\~Users).
  19. Log out. Log back in as your usual user.  Everything should be working correctly except for programs that use a “hardcoded” user profile location.
  20. There are two easy methods that can be used to find programs that use a “hardcoded” profile location and are still looking for the original user profile path.  You can use the procexp.exe trick mentioned above and search for handles in the original profile location.  You can also monitor the oringal profile location to see if any new folders or files were created.  For example, in my case, FolderShare created some folders and files in the directory C:\Users\MyUsername\AppData\Local\FolderShare\.  So, I updated the FolderShare settings to point to the different path and then deleted the C:\Users directory (note that C:\~Users still existed as a backup).
  21. Since you are now confident that all of your data has been moved (right??????), you can deleted the backup of the original user profile location (e.g. C:\~Users).


This procedure worked flawlessly for me.  Everything user-related is now on a completely different volume, and I can sleep a little better at night!  :-)

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230 comments so far

  1. Zaine Ridling on

    Incredible. Thanks for documenting this and sharing. I’m grateful, and yes, it does work!

  2. Manoj on

    Hey…. this is gr8.. plz tell me how will i know which user profile (DOmain, public, private) is currently active on my machine? which registry key or API gives me this information?

  3. Manoj on

    Hey…. this is gr8.. plz tell me how will i know which user profile (DOmain, public, private) is currently active on my machine? which registry key or API gives me this information? my mail address is

    thanks in advance

  4. Liam on

    I did this but now I can’t create any new users on the machine. I think it might be something to do with permissions on the new drive….. anyone else seen this?

  5. joshmouch on

    Please explain “can’t create any new users”.

    At one point while I was experimenting, when I logged on with a new user the profile could not be created, so Windows used a default profile. The reason for this was the registry entries for the default profile and file location of the actual default profile were not pointing to the same place.

  6. Liam on

    I can create the user, then when I try to login – as the new user for the first time, it say logging in, and immediately logs out again. The new users folder is left in a kind of half state.
    In the event log I see errors from the User Profile service.
    Windows cannot load classes registry file.
    DETAIL – The system cannot find the file specified.
    I’ve tried doing traces with procmon to figure out what might be failing or what I missed, but there is nothing obvious.

  7. Liam on

    I figured out what had happened – step 10 – copying c:\users to (in my case) u:\users didn’t copy any of the hidden folders. This seemed to leave the default user in a bad state that any new users tyring to create a profile would fail to be created properly. If these new users were administrators it was fine not sure why, but standard users just wouldn’t work.
    Anyway I copied c:\users\default from another vista machine – hidden folders and all, and then it worked no problem…. happy again, and it’s pretty sweet having all the user data out on a different drive ,makes backups much more manageable.

  8. derekk19 on

    Thanks for these instructions, they were great and easy to follow. I have now moved my users folder to U:\Users. I found a registry search & replace program that looks quite good. Registry ToolKit I had to run this as administrator, otherwise it silently does not change the values…
    Usual disclaimers: It worked for me, may not for you, blah blah blah.

    One program I am having trouble with is Norton Antivirus. It has C:/Users in two registry values (HKLM/Software/Symantec/Norton AntiVirus) and I’m trying to find a way to change them. Norton has put tricky security round these values, even administrator can’t change them.

  9. Dennis on

    Hi, I have the same problem that Liam had… Unfortunately I deleted my old Default user profile, so I cannot restore the default user profile. Can someone send me a link to get all the hidden files? Thanks
    Dennis (

  10. Dennis on

    I finally had to reinstall Vista, and finally things worked again… It’s a bit of a pain, just wish that Microsoft would make the relocation of the entire set of user profiles much easier. To copy the files in Step 11, I strongly suggest that you make all hidden files visible in case you forget hidden files.

    I wonder how I can copy those hidden system files that look like shortcuts (but aren’t)…

  11. Charles on

    if i want to change the location of only my user profile, do i simply follow the steps above except those that deal with the public folder?

    also, can i change my user folder from, say, c:\users\charles to d:\charles (no “user” directory in the new location)?

  12. Jerome Cruz on

    Hi Joshua,
    Can you send the step by step on how you successfully did the option 1

    Set the User Profile folder during setup using an unattended install file.

  13. Bill on

    I also want to move all user profile to another drive. I am a novice at this sort of thing and not sure I should attempt to do what you have instructed. For example I was reading through your Instructions and thought I would look at step 4 When I got to ProfileList I could not find the Default key, Public Key, or the ProfilesDirectory. Step 13 also is a bit of a mystery also. Maybe number 1 on your list would be a better alternative for me. an you provide more detailed info.
    Thanks Bill

  14. Sven on

    I linked in my separate partition under C:\Users. The main advantage is, that no search & replace on the registry is needed. In order to do this, the above steps 1-8 must be followed, using a temporary folder for steps 5-7.

    After Step 8, the original Users folder may be renamed (it also has an object name, but Vista changed that for me somehow…), a new, empty Users folder created, and the new partition mounted there (using the Storage Manager).

    Note that you don’t need to change all these registry settings. After you are done copying the files, you go back to the registry (see steps 4-7) and restore the original settings.

    I had trouble copying “All Users” and “Default User” as these are links. You can recreate them from the command prompt using:
    mklink /d “All Users” C:\ProgramData
    mklink /j “Default User” C:\Users\Default

    And I had to change a bunch of permissions, owners, etc. in the new location to resemble the original Users folder (especially in the Public folder).

  15. oliver on

    i just tried it on an ultimate installation
    -installed everything under a username (temp admin)
    -then changed the profilelist directory
    -created users (another admin)
    -restarted and logged as the new admin user and there they are all in a diff dir
    -deleted the orig user
    everything looks good

  16. DosR on

    Do somebody know if it is possible to open a command line session, move all the user directory to D:\ and the create a hardlink in c pointing it?

    Will this work?

  17. MikeB on

    I moved my complete c:\users to d:\users. Some of things I did were (as best as I remember it):
    -copied the directory using xcopy in the recovery console (boot off vista dvd). If I remember correctly I used “xcopy /E /C /H /K /O /X /B c:\users\*.* d:\users\”. I did have some problems with this since some files had very difficult permissions.
    -find/replace the registry for c:\users with d:\users
    -modified all junctions in d:\users and in c:\programdata (a trick to find them all is do a [dir /a /s > output.txt] from the root directory running as an admin and then search this file for “junctions”.
    -used a tool call junctions that I googled to create junctions.
    -Did an [icacls *.* /L /save permission.txt] before removing junctions in a directory “DirectoryNameHere”. After creating the junctions did a [icacls "DirectoryNameHere" /L /substitue permissions.txt]
    -once the c:\users directory is removed, created a junction that points from c:\users to d:\users (had to do this because some windows updates were not working without it)

  18. rindi on

    Shouldn’t I be able to at least move the “C:\Users” folder to drive D: by using an autounattend.xml file (created with WAIK) like listed below? The problem is I tried that and everything else in the answer file seems to work like I’m expecting it to, except the Drive D stays empty and the C:\Users folder stays on C:…


  19. rindi on

    Seems that the contents of my answer file haven’t shown up fully:


  20. rindi on

    Doesn’t look like I can copy paste the contents of my answer file to show like they should…

  21. xabbu on

    I have a solution for step 10 11 and 12. I made a backup with acronis true image before moving the folder and I had the Problem with coping the tmp files too. I had the idea to mount the backup image with acronis and copied that, worked great. Acronis can copy the windows drive and the user folder with no problems.

  22. jackyNIX on

    Joshua, you’re the man! I’ve put my users folder on a raid 0, works like a charm.
    Best time to do this is right after a clean install, so not much has to be altered in the registry.
    Why does M$ refuse to add a value like %users% …
    it would make life easier to a lot of us.
    Thumbs up for this one.

  23. jackyNIX on

    raid 1 actually ;p

  24. Ben on

    Ok, it works, ok .. not completly but most :) But two things crashes, the InternetExplorer and Windows Defender didnt work anymore. Verry strange. Have somebody suggestions?

  25. [...] Source:  Joshua Mouch Blog [...]

  26. Xavier on

    I do think there is a kinda simplier solution for already created users.

    Let’s say I want to move the foo user’s folder somewhere else on my computer. Just have to log in as admin, make a copy of the foo directory where i wanna put it ie “D:\Users\foo”.
    Then in cmd prompt I have to create a junction :
    mklink /j c:\users\foo d:\users\foo

    Et voilà! User’s folder moved with not too much pain in the ass (and in a far shorter time ;) )
    I know this is not perfect, but it’s kinda easier.

  27. Bill Compton on

    Hi Jim. Photos i received. Thanks

  28. johns on

    Is anyone getting a blank screen under user account.
    When I go into user accounts or even try to add a user, the *user accounts* where it shows a icon for a different user is blank.

  29. Mantzy on

    I had a problem after changing everything (I think, as with other people, it was to do with tmp files not transfering across). I’d noticed that the Administrator’s details were now in D:\Users\Admin earlier on (around about Step 10) but I carried on with the above instructions anyway. I got back up to logging in with my old login (lets call it “fish” for the time being) and it said it was running in a TEMP directory, and when I looked in Explorer this was the case (Admin, Fish, Public and TEMP all being shown). I thought that maybe if I made a new user it would then create this in the D drive but I wanted to keep Fish as my name. If you try to delete the user Fish it says that it’ll not allow you to create another with the same name (not sure if it’s the same in the control panel version of User Settings, I did it though Computer Management way). So I logged out. Logged in as Admin again. Changed the name of the Fish user to Fishhead. Logged out of Admin to see if the settings took (Fishhead was a login option). Logged back in Admin. Knowing that if I logged in as Fishhead I’d go back to the TEMP dir, I changed the name of the folder under D:\Users from Fish to Fish142, and then created a new user called Fish. Deleted user called Fishhead. Logged out of Admin. Logged into Fish. Went to Explorer. Copied the files in Fish142 to Fish and then deleted the folder Fish142.

    So now I’m back to just being a Fish. Don’t know if thats similar to what others had to do but it seems to work.

    Microsoft don’t half make it hard do they?

  30. wsxasd on

    You can store the Documents folder on another drive or in another folder. For example, if you have more free space on another drive, you can move it.

    To accomplish this task, right click Documents from the Start Menu and select Properties. This opens the Properties dialog box for the Documents folder. Click the Location tab and type in the path to the location where you want to store the folder. Click OK. If the folder location you specified in the Target field does not exist, the Create Message dialog box will appear. Click Yes to create the folder and click OK. Alternatively, you can also select the Move button from the Location tab and browse to the location where you want to store the Documents folder.

  31. pivale on

    If I move c:\Users to d:\Users and create a symlink using “mklink /j Users d:\Users”, wont’t it be enough?

    I mean every requests for c:\users will be redirected to d:\users, or am I messing up on something?


  32. Don Hastings on

    TY Joshua, this is the ONLY on-point article I could find on the web.

    Similar to several of the readers, I am uncomfortable attempting this myself. I need a slightly higher level of specificity.

    Would it be possible for someone to come forward with some kind of “Wizard” that could accomplish this? I’d pay money for it!

    Does anyone know whether Microsoft might provide support in this regard, such as in a future build or service pack?

  33. David Hale on

    I followed this procedure, I believe exactly, but may have made a mistake because after repeating step 15 the second time, no user could log in properly. When any user tried to login, Windows said that there was a problem with the user’s profile, a temporary profile was being used, and changes to it would not be saved.

    After hours of work I couldn’t fix it. Even System Restore wouldn’t work (it hung — for up to 8 hrs — when resetting the registry).

    I finally had to reformat and reinstall. Beware.

    I’ve since decided that it’s acceptable for AppData to remain on C:, since it’s small stuff, and use the windows relocate feature to move Documents, Pictures, etc.

    Strange that they’d make this so rigid. Also strange that they don’t let you relocate Public, even though there is a “relocate” button.

    It’s enough to make a person go mac.

  34. Rich Brown on

    Thanks for documenting this. I find it rediculious that Microsoft would make it that difficult for anyone to move the users directory. I think in today’s world of multiple drives, people tend to keep their data separate from their OS so Microsoft really should have incorporated an easy way to choose the ‘Users’ or ‘Data’ volume upon installation or provide a way of moving it. Thanks again for documenting.

  35. C Zaumeyer on

    Thanks! This helped me “recover” my moved videos folder which was causing Moviemaker2 to fail in Vista! WONDERFUL reg hack!

  36. AlexJ on

    I think it can be done a bit easier:
    Get the tool LINKD.exe from Windows Server 2003 Ressourcekit tools. Copy it to c:\
    Start Vista from CD into repair mode Konsole window or you can use BartPE or a second Windows XP/Vista installation.
    Now rename c:\users into c:\users.old
    type LINKD c:\users D:\Users
    Now copy all files from c:\users.old into c:\users

    Now all Programs also all with hardcoded Filelocation should work, as this method is absolutly transparent too all applications!

    Tested under Windows XP, but should work the same way under Vista.

  37. JoeB on

    AlexJ, unfortunately while your suggestion of a easier way may work under XP it won’t under Vista without losing all the symlinks/junctions hidden in the user profiles. This might not be a problem if everything you install is 100% Vista compliant, but some older software might have a problem.

    I did a combination of what Sven and MikeB posted above, copied all and everything to the new partition, including symlinks (using a batch file I created from the directory output). Changed the main registry profile path for each user*, i.e. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\{user’s SID number}\ProfileImagePath – NOT the system/local/network ones – then simply rebooted, renamed the C:\Users folder then mounted the partition under an empty folder of the same name. I found this the easiest (and best) way to do this to ensure everything points to the correct place. Afterwards if all is ok you can delete the old user folder.

    * This is an important change you have to make as just creating a symlink/junction from C:\Users will mean losing the Desktop Search functionality in Documents/Pictures/Music etc unless you navigate directly to their new location. This is because Windows Desktop Search will ignore mounted volumes or junctions. Setting the true path will allow it to use indexes created for those folders/drives.

  38. Jeremy on

    ok let’s start from the beginning…i think everybody is getting a little out of hand here with editing the registry and whatnot. yes it might work for a little while but it won’t work in the long run…trust me

    in windows XP by default we are given

    C:\Documents and Settings\”User Name”.”Full Computer Name”\My Documents

    this My Documents folder has a special property of being able to “move” or relocate to another place. however, in windows vista they removed the folder My Documents.

    now in windows vista we have:

    C:\Users\”User Name”\Documents

    we all agree that we love the idea of being able to relocate my documents to another location. i personally use it for 3 main reasons:

    REASON#1: SAVING FILES…my documents ALWAYS shows up when performing a file save operation. making it very easy to save files off of the system partition!

    REASON#2: OPENING FILES…my documents ALWAYS shows up when performing a file open operation. which makes it very easy to access saved data. even when running old software in vista the “User name” folder will be right there in the file open window…excellent

    REASON#3: BACKING UP MY FILES…i can backup and restore my documents very easily because it’s all in one folder! plus one can easily wipe out the system partition then after reinstalling just right click on my documents, move the target back to the desired location and within 1 minute all of your data is back in it’s right place…sweet

    so, the main problem in vista is that the “Users” folder and the “User Name” folder cannot be moved or relocated :(

    however, all of the “pre-customized” folders inside of the “User Name” folder CAN be relocated in vista

    so i tried to individually relocate the “Documents” folder for example to another location like D:\

    in other words i created a folder called D:\Documents

    then i moved the target location of C:\Users\User Name\Documents

    to D:\Documents

    now the Documents folder is easy to access!!

    however, there are two problems with that solution:

    PROBLEM#1: when i go to file open now there are 2 folders called “Documents” which is udderly ridiculous.

    PROBLEM#2: let’s say i wanted to create another folder called D:\Resumes and let’s say i wanted that folder to show up when i click on the User Name folder. well i can create a new folder with no problem but it’s not going to show up when i click on the User Name folder. in XP however if i have My Documents targeted on D:\ then any folder i create on D:\ will show up in My Documents…great during open/save operations!

    OK so we are all on the same page i think…none of us want OUR data being stored on the system partition. and in addition to that WE want to decide which folders are easily accessible on our systems. after all we spent all of our time installing pirated copies of vista…right?


    joshua, i see how your solution could work but i really dont agree with individually editing registry keys to solve this problem. i think the mklink thing is a nifty idea…but it does not solve problem number 2 on my list above.

    if we could somehow figure out how microsoft creates folders with the move target property then we could probably figure out how to force the “User Name” folder to have that property as well.

    is anyone familiar with how to create folders which have that property?

  39. Don Hastings on


    I had put related inquiries on the Microsoft TechNet site. I finally got a response.

    I am attempting to digest this reponse as it is a very long one and a techincal response. I can not yet state whether it is “on point”. Therefore, on the TechNet site, I would appreciate review and comment from the techie readers of this thread.

    For those interested, please see:

  40. Marcos Pinto on


    If you’re doing a clean install, I think it can be simplified a lot (avoiding the whole search/replace registry thing). So that’s what I did:

    Steps 1 up to 7 stay the same.

    8. Log on to the admin user (or create a different user, I had to do it anyway). This user will already have its profile on the new drive (thanks to the previous steps).
    9. Delete the user that was created during the install (which still has its profile in C:\Users).
    10. Create it again and log on – now the new profile will be created in the correct location.

    So far it’s been working fine – I was not able to rename C:\Users, but I’ll do it from Linux when I reboot (so I’m sure no files are open).

    I think this is a much simpler procedure, if you don’t mind a clean install (I actually do, but my XP installation was so broken that I thought it would be better to start from scratch anyway).

  41. dervish on

    If you are using Vista Home Basic and have problems recreating the “All Users” and “Default User” links, as mentioned by Sven, because it says you don’t have sufficient privileges…then don’t worry when you realise that there is no secpol.msc (User Account Manager plugin) to enable the Administrator.
    To get a CMD prompt with Administrative privileges, all you need to do is:
    1, Click the Start Button
    2, Type ‘CMD’ in the Start Search box
    3, Press and hold down [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[Enter]
    You should then be able to create the links you need

  42. Haresh on

    I keep getting a error msg “Profile dosent exist” whenever i switch on my HP Pavilion dv2000 Notebook with Windows Vista Home Premium. I Tried corresponding with the HP help desk and they advised me to restore the system. I did the restoration but did not help as the same error msg still keeps appearing. Although the computer is working perfectly fine, but one feels something is wrong when he sees the error msg whenever the computer is switched on!!! Can someone help me solve this irritating problem. Sometimes i regret purchasing this damn Vista, so called Wow, i thing the XP was less troublesome. My email address is PLEASE HELP!! I have already spent 5 long hours trying to get this stupid “Profile dosent exist” msg from not appearing.

  43. cbhacking on

    Thanks for the guide! However, I’m getting a major problem when I try to log in with my newly moved account: It starts to log in, then says “Logging Out” and returns me to the welcome screen.

    Logging in as another user and going to the event logs, I’m getting a message that “Windows has detected your registry file is still in use by other applications or services. The file will be unloaded now. The applications or services that hold your registry file may not function properly afterwards.”

    Also, the user I log in as (the one whose profile directory was created after I had changed the Profiles path in the registry) is using a temporary profile folder (D:\Users\TEMP; the account name is not TEMP or anything like it).

    I tried undoing the registry changes but got a very broken account (most programs either would not run, or had lost their data files). I’d really like to avoid re-creating my primary account – I have all the personal files backed up but there’s a lot of configuration data I would lose – but unless I can get past the log-in-then-instantly-log-out issue, I’m not seeing much alternative.

  44. Jase on

    God so messy… I need to write a better guide but I got there in the end. =)

  45. Dave on

    I opted for the alternative route and created a custom boot DVD of Vista using the WAIK and Business Desktop Deployment 2007 program (free downloads from MS). This is not something I recommend if you have a fully working PC as I trashed mine but was in the fortunate position of being able to wipe clean and start again.

    If you opt for this route then you can set the ProgramData and User folders to be D:\Users or whatever AND have it create your partitions etc – word of warning though, this route will completely wipe whatever disk Vista detects as your first useable HDD (which bizarrely for me was the disk I DIDN’T want it to!) and make a 100% size partition (400GB NTFS for me :S). I am a little hazy on details as I did all this back in January – March 2007. I do remember that I ended up buying a bunch of DVD+RW disks as I was making coasters from DVDs at an alarming rate.

    In the long run, this is probably the better solution as the system is then installed in this configuration. I seem to recall I also had to make some registry changes as MS have hardcoded some user paths for some insane reason?!

    Quite why you can’t just have an advanced install option and say “set /home to this disk”… err I mean \Users! That would make life so much simpler.


  46. rob on

    Could someone explain to a novice like me what Sven means by “I linked in my separate partition under C:\Users”? I tried to follow what he said but I couldn’t get it to work.

    “you go back to the registry (see steps 4-7) and restore the original settings.”

    does that mean restore them to “c:\..”? or “%SystemDrive%\..”?


  47. Roger Hendriks on

    After doing this Vista update failed and I made a symbolic link to solve it. More info:

  48. Ingimundur G. Nielsson on

    Thanks Joshua for the great guide. However you might want to add the information from Roger Hendriks regarding the symbolic links to help with Windows Updates.
    I was unable for a month to install the KB938979 update. Then I created a symbolic link c:\users to d:\users and changed the ProfileList in the registry to point to the original C:\Users (symbolic) folder. (I changed both the user keys and the folders in the ProfileList key itself.
    This saved me the headache of reinstalling Vista and dropping the idea of storing my User files on a separate partition :)

  49. Greger Lindstrand on

    O´boy! How I want to do this trick. Unfortenately I don’t trust myself with beeing able to “fix it” when something goes wrong. It’s one thing to follow step by step instructions. It’s another to try to get back if anything doesn’t go as planned during the steps.
    Hence, i really, really need a program that can do this for me. But I found nothing during my search on the net.

    I want to put all user data on a physically separate harddisc for all the reasons given above.
    Further more I would like the PC with dual boot (XP & Vista) to use the same user folder (possible?.
    3 different physical harddiscs;
    Disc 1 => XP
    Disc 2 => Vista
    Disc 3 => Userdata I.E everything I create myself.

    So, I want but I can’t sigh.
    Do anyone know of a prog that could possibly aacomplish this?

  50. [...] document folders cleanly to my data partition. I went out and searched on the web and came across a post that shows how to move your entire “Users” folder from one drive to another. I followed [...]

  51. DoWhatJohn on

    Another approach that may be worth trying is that which I have successfully used under XP for hardcoded folders that cannot be moved by altering the registry.

    You could convert the original folder to a junction point which points to the new location on the other partition.

    This should move everything safely, allowing independant partition backup, while not having to change the registry at all (everything still thinks the default works).

  52. Joe on

    Well, I’ve successfully done this a few times before. This time, my computer doesn’t seem to like it. It seems after I finish doing the search and replace, my normal everyday user account (not admin account) doesn’t download any files. Another thing is that I can’t keep more than one tab of Internet Explorer open before it freezes, and that is on all accounts, including admin. Could this be happening because I do the search and replace on my normal user account after doing it on the admin account? PLEASE RESPOND! This is the second time I’ve unsuccessfully tried doing this. I was seriously about to smash my laptop against the wall the other day (no lie)

    Anyway, could my problems be because I used search and replace on the admin user as well as my everyday user name?

  53. Stormblade on

    Hey Joshua,

    I have not been able to get this to work. After step 8 when I try to log in as a user that has not logged in before I can not. It gives me an error about Profile Service failing and tells me it can not load the profile. I am able to log back in with the profile that I was using but not the new one.

    When I changed the registry keys back then I was able to but of course it put it back on C:.

    I have just done a clean install of Vista and for some reason I don’t have a c:\users\default. The only thing I’ve done thus far to Vista is to run Windows update and update everything.

    Some help would be most appreciated. I am new to Vista and I use a program called Deepfreeze. Having things going to the same drive as my system drive is a pain.

  54. Stormblade on

    Ok so my Default folder was hidden. I think I managed to get things working thus far. Had to head to work before I was done but I successfully created a profile that appeared in the new location. I left certain paths alone this time like the Default and ProgramData.

    I tried renaming the Users directory at the old location but couldn’t. I assume its because its still being used in some way so I’ll wrestle with that after work.

  55. Yesenia on

    I was wondering if you knew how to change the name of the user profile?? I bought a new computer from a friend and it has his name…I would really like to change it. In the local disk c, under user profiles, I tried left clicking and going to the properties and where the name is it appears gray instead of black text, so I can’t click it and rename it. Any ideas??? Thanks!

  56. takis on

    unable copy userprofile

  57. Roger on

    I too was anxious to learn how to remap user directories to a new location, and I found that all the info that is needed is within this “story”, but I too became a little confused, so let me see if a few “user tips” might help:
    1) you don’t need to remap the info in regedit except as shown in 5-7… all other user info is more easily “remapped” by using the mklink /j command.
    2) I didn’t have any luck with the icacls command, but then @ EOD all you really need to do is to set the security for the user’s directory to the appropriate user’s account. This is more easily done via right-click on directory in the Security dialog and adding the user and setting permissions for that user to “full control”. If you don’t set the user’s directory security for the user accessing the directory you end up with LOTS of problems w/ IE not being able to print (get temp directory permissions issues messages) and Outlook and other programs having problems as well. All these error messages went away once the user’s directory on the destination drive was assigned to the user’s “Full control” security permissions.

    3) Apparently you need to rename the source directory prior to using the mklink command (probably obvious to “most”). Since C:\users\joeblow already exists, mklink doesn’t overwrite the directory name in its quest to create a junction to the new directory structure. I found that renaming the c:\users to something else preserved the original settings so that I could reference them to resolve any other premissions issues (there were none once I figured out how to set security permissions).

    4) Step 8 is key to getting all this to work. You need to be able to use a new administrator account after you perform steps 5-8. Don’t be anxious to get rid of this account as it will act as “home base” if you need to sort out any remaining issues. You need this account basically to allow all other account files to not be “in use” which would cause you to not be able to copy those files (correctly).

    5) renaming directories in Vista often fools you into thinking the folder name has not been changed (seems like a Vista feature). You can verify the name has actually been changed by using cmd “dir” to view directory names.

    6) I too get a little paranoid about editing the registry… Try to remember to export the registry prior to making changes so you have something to reference if you need to recover info.

    Sooo…. here is what I did – seemed to work pretty well.
    1) create a new admin account if necessary.
    2) Regedit the Default, Public, and ProfileList to the “new location” after creating a full registry export.
    3) restart system & login to new admin account.
    4) copy (actually it does a merge) c:\users to \users (you may want to make another copy as well – your choice).
    5) set the \users\ directory security for each user to the appropriate user’s account as “full control”.
    6) rename c:\users to something else like c:\oldusers
    7) create new c:\users directory (I did this from cmd window using “mkdir c:\users”)
    8) mklink /j c:\users\ \users\
    9) login as a different user.
    10) display “documents” from Windows Explorer favorite links – everything should display as it did previously.
    11) run IE or your favorite browser and try to print-preview the page – should show correctly and not error (errors typically show permissions have not been set for the user’s account).

    As long as you have the new admin account to use, you should not have issues with experimenting with the other user accounts. Once you feel comfortable that everything is working correctly w/ the other accounts, you can either disable or remove the admin account if it was created only for this reassigment / move.

  58. Roger on

    I’m not certain what you are trying to do in renaming profiles.

    If you are trying to get your own directory structure, rename the account “username” in control panel, then find the user account directory in the profilelist in the registry, and change that to the new username. By using another admin account you should be able to rename the \users\ directory to match assigned in the profilelist. Since the account that was using the directory has not changed (except for the user’s name) I suspect you should not need to reassign the security permissions for the directory.
    Don’t forget to mklink /j c:\users\ \users\.

    If that doesn’t work for you, create a new account. I still have not found a way to remove the “initial user” account info that is imbedded in the OS during installation that appears to be referenced in every subsequent app install. If you are trying to get rid of that, you probably (still need to) reinstall the OS.

  59. David on

    I am running IE7 in protected mode and there was one other thing I had to do. I needed to set the correct integrity level on the :\\\AppData\Local\Temp\Low using the following command:

    icacls :\\\AppData\Local\Temp\Low /setintegritylevel (OI)(CI)low

  60. Konny@de on

    Hi all together,
    i change the users-folder already since W2kPro.
    And i know an easier way.
    !!! Make a good backup of your system
    !!! inkl. systemstate (important)

    o Create a new user, where you never need again
    !!! with administrator rights !!!
    o make a selective backup of the Users folder eg.
    C:\Users\.. The
    o then restore the whole backup to the new destination.
    o Change the pathes into the registery ..ProfileList and below…
    o restart your computer
    o logon normal administratur-account
    o check, where you are at cmd prompt
    o voila, you are already at the new destination!

    Ok, try it, but you should have some OS expierience !!!

    Greetings from Germany


  61. Chris Wright on

    The WOW starts now eh?

    What a complete pile of crap Vista is. I’ve run into this problem as well. How unreasonable of users wanting to locate their personal data on a separate partition from the OS.

    I think we know what MS developers have been doing for the last five years. “I know, how can we completely bugger up something that’s worked perfectly well in previous versions of Windows”.

    What exactly was wrong with being able to relocate your ‘My Documents’ folder? Now we have to go through this ridiculous long winded process just to get our personal data onto a separate partition.

    I guess this is what MS define as product differentation. How else can they justify charging for Vista.

    Oh I’d like to make a change to my network stack. Great it’s now buried three extra clicks away. Oops I won’t bother as Vista’s network file copy is useless. OK I’ll uninstall a program, I’ll just go to ‘Add/Remove Programs’. What it’s not there. Oh look they’ve renamed it to a far more ambiguos ‘Progams and Features’. Why?

    The WOW starts now!

  62. Maximus on

    I would like to see a continuation of the topic

  63. [...] If you want to move the entire users structure, havea read of this: Change User Profile Folder Location in Vista Joshua Mouch [...]

  64. Andy Ursa on

    Hi! I just wanted to share my frustration with this and warn others.

    1. First and foremost I’d like to give Micro$oft a dreadful and utterly painful kick in the ass for making this such a hassle. I had to get that out of the system.

    2. Please note in the beginning of the article that this process will most likely take 5-6 hours. I wasn’t prepared for that. Of course it depends on how many files you’ve got. I’ve got a 3 year old machine with roughly 400000 files on it (for comparison).

    3. Please also give a note in the start of the article that you’ll need 3x the space your current users account use. I wasn’t prepared for the second copying (step 11).

    4. Please warn people that they can’t make another user called the same as the first one (I renamed my first admin user to some gibberish, then made another one with the same name as the first, hoping that this would have me access the files). But this will only make a “_2″ after the name in the Users folder.

    5. Please please please please pretty please give some examples of a good x64 search & replace registry editor for Vista 64-bit. I’m going utterly mad trying to find one amongst the 100+ shameless pieces of dung out there.

    6. Tip: make copies of the bookmark file of this page and put it easily accessible since it’ll disappear when you change user.

    7. Congratulations on making a highly useful guide like this. I hope you’ll take my updates into consideration. I am very grateful even though I kinda don’t sound that way right now.

    Best wishes!

  65. Andy Ursa on

    Hi! Just wanted you all to know that my trial resulted in a corrupt Vista. I had to turn back at some point because my new user got corrupted. Then I saw that my old user was corrupted too. I found out that I hadn’t reinstalled windows for a couple years, so I could just do that instead (I had more than 800,000 files on my C: drive now!)

    Massive negative kudos to Microsoft for ruining many people’s day. Kudos to the people here for trying to help.

  66. thehabgroup on

    Thanks for this information. I have tried it and it works.

  67. oliverabc on

    For the issue on newly created users that can’t login, it seems to be an access right issue on copy of “default” user. During the copy it has lost some access rights and is only accessible to admin users, I added access to all users:

    - select security tab on properties of “default” user copy, e.g. “d:\users\default”
    - add read/execute for “all users” (you can compare with original “%SystemDrive%\users”)
    - login with a new user

    NB : I also recreated some links on “Default User” and “All users”, I don’t know if it has any effect. I used F8/safemode to copy my users directories.

  68. [...] mit der man das Profilverzeichnis einfach verlegen kann. Eine saubere Lsung findet man unter Change User Profile Folder Location in Vista Joshua Mouch. Man verschiebt die Ordner ffentlich und Default auf die gewnschte Partition / Platte und ffnet [...]

  69. SHP on

    I have an easier solution that you may want to consider. I learned about it here:

    I did the following:

    1) Created a new partition (“d”) for my data.
    2) Backed up up my drive (just in case).
    3) Loaded the Windows Vista installation disk and got to the command prompt.
    4) Once at the command prompt, I entered the following commands:

    robocopy C:\Users D:\Users /MIR /E /XJ [Enter]
    rmdir /S /Q C:\Users [Enter]
    rmdir “C:\Documents and Settings” [Enter]
    mklink /J C:\Users D:\Users [Enter]
    mklink /J “C:\Documents and Settings” D:\Users [Enter]
    The robocopy took about 15 minuted for 5 gigs worth of data. The other commands took no time at all.

    5)I exited and rebooted.
    6)Voila. I was good to go.

    When I look in my c partition, I see “junction pointers” for c:\Users and c:\Documents and Settings both pointing to d:\Users.

    Everything seems smooth and I haven’t noticed any slow down.

    The only issue I may have concerns backups. Apparently some programs will not create a good image of a partition that includes a junction pointing to a different partition. These programs will try to image the other partition as well. I’m going to experiment and see if this really is a problem or not.

    Good luck.

  70. SLewis on

    This posting was the closest thing to my specific issue. The person who put my system together (WinXP sp2)somehow put his name in and it shows up when you boot. Windows login and Mr. J is the default, is in the C:\Documents and Settings\Mr J (has a folder and resembles a user account)…but does not show up as a user account. It gets stranger…when you go into control panel/user accounts and change the way users log on or off…and if you activate the welcome screen there are 2 accounts you can switch between “admin” and “graphics” (both administrator accounts) but there is an account called “NET” that shows up that ibut cannot be accessed and doesn’t show up when I change the login to standard windows login where there are 3 available accounts ‘different names’with no password required.

  71. David on

    Step 1 – problem with copying C:/Users/Default to D:/Users/Default, it says operation cannot be completed as:
    ntuser.dat, ntuser.dat.log1 and .log2 and userclass.dat and log1 & 2….
    are being used by another program. All applications bar browser, and explorer and copy window are closed. Options are to “try again” or “skip”. Do you know if this is a problem (to skip) or if so how to get round this?

    Many thanks


  72. Pau on

    Hi there! I’m using Vista and I can’t change the name of the “main user.”

    For example it’s C:\Users\OldUserName

    How do I change it to C:\Users\NewUserName ?

    I would greatly appreciate those that will respond to this! Please email me at

    Many thanks!

  73. chusteczka on

    Thank you Joshua for the useful information.

    Thank you David on November 27, 2007; for the useful information regarding setting the integrity levels. I could not have solved that problem without your help. Run this command from the command line.

    icacls D:\Vista\Users\\AppData\Local\Temp\Low /setintegritylevel (OI)(CI)low

    @ David on March 23, 2008; those files may be skipped since they are not needed and will be automatically recreated when the system needs them.

    @ Pau on March 29, 2008; no, you may not change the name of the initial user. This is an MS Windows issue where the first user created is the “Admin” user. It is often recommended to name the first user, “Admin”, for this reason and provide it with Administrator privileges. From there, you may create your own naming mechanisms but it is useful to create a restricted “Home” user if numerous people will access the same computer but do not need their own account.

  74. chusteczka on

    Now I see why David’s original command was not precisely correct. The webpage removes certain brackets. Here is the command that worked for me. You may provide your own director and username.

    icacls D:\Vista\Users\username\AppData\Local\Temp\Low /setintegritylevel (OI)(CI)low

  75. UnIForM on


    I apologize for my English but I would do many thanks to SHP (12 March) for his great solution.

    It works very well on my computer and on a computer of a friend.

    Thanks a lot !

  76. randman on

    I’m a little hesitant to move the entire users directory, as oppossed to just moving individual users. What if you were doing some sort of maintenance on your PC such that the new Users hard drive is not available? Or maybe it crashed and you need to restore it to a brand new drive (which wouldn’t be a problem if you were using something like Acronis to restore outside of Vista, but that’s another story).

    Would it be possible to login to Windows Vista even if the users drive isn’t available? Or will you have trouble logging in since the user’s entire folder is in the crashed drive?

    The other approach I’m considering is moving most users over to another drive, but keep a user’s folder (that I normally don’t use for loggin in) in the system drive. For example, keep the Administrator’s home folder in the system drive. Then, if something goes wrong with the users drive, I know I can still login okay as Administrator, since its folder is still in the system (C:) drive. Or, should I not worry about this and go for the more aesthetically pleasing approach of moving the entire Users folder to a non-system drive?

  77. Firas AG on

    Hi there! I’m using Vista and I can’t change the name of the “main user.”

    For example it’s C:\Users\OldUserName

    How do I change it to C:\Users\NewUserName ?

    I would greatly appreciate those that will respond to this! Please email me at

  78. [...] I have had some fun with Vista lately. My C: drive was approaching capacity and Vista told me that I couldn’t extend it. I succeeded in the end but it was unreasonably difficult. Vista makes simple things needlessly complicated, like keeping your software and data separate, e.g., (read how to change the user profile location in Vista). [...]

  79. Robert J. Moore on

    Just goes to show, Microsoft have a huge body of developers with infinitely extendable system drives.

    They really need to employ some business/systems analysts (like me) who still live in the real (frustrating) world where laptops can’t keep up with my typing (60wpm) even if they have dual core processors.

    Personally, I am about to give up on moving my profiles as I can not afford to lose yet more time to ill-behaved systems.

    No wonder people love to hate Microsoft (and to a lesser degree Intel)- what should be simple is made difficult. As far as I can see, if I need to start messing with symbolic links, I might as well go the whole hog and install Unix or Linux or something else other than windows.

  80. Bakst on

    This is *exactly* what I was looking for! Brilliant, mate, I’m so glad this worked. Not a single hitch in the process.


  81. Bakst on

    …I might add, as a possible extra step at the end, that I had to manually copy (one by one) those hidden files that look like shortcuts but aren’t. Actually, I’m not even sure it was necessary, since everything seems to be running smoothly, but I did it as a safety precaution anyway, to make sure the original folder and the copy matched up.

    Cheers again! -ab

  82. darth.mongo on

    Instead of going through all these steps to possibly corrupt your registry (and therefore your system), couldn’t you simply copy the profile to the new drive, partition, sharepoint, etc., and simply go to the properties of the account in Computer Management and change the profile path there under the Profile tab? Seems a lot easier to me.

  83. ridzuan on

    how do we change the folder name of the current user to a new one? though i can change the user name (set during the initial vista setup) to a new one (control panel-user accounts-change your account name), the folder for that new user name still retain the old name…?

  84. Christoph on

    Hello and many thanks for the description and the investigation.
    But please:
    Why, after 20 years of creating OS, is still nobody able to just ask at the installation on wich partition to install the unser profiles.
    When I see all the work done for graphical giberish I just doesnt understand why something so easy in comparision shouldn’t be possible.
    I can someone explain me, why we pay for updates that are written for our eyes only. For God sakes Windows is an OS, not a TV show.

  85. Joe Callahan on

    Followed directions with pretty good success and few difficulties until trying to download some drivers. Followed original insturctions on a clean install.

    The difficulty I’m experience may cause me to have to back out and re-install. I am unable to download from Internet Explorer. Instead of the normal Run/Open, Save Dialog box, I get one that appears to run but the download never progresses past 0%. Just hangs.

    Has anyone run into this. I will try reset some permissions but this seems different to me.


  86. Russell Lang on

    I used the method described in this article at the time I installed Vista in 2007. Up till a few days ago I thought it had worked well. I have two programs which don’t behave well on Vista, in spite of the suppliers claims that they do. I thought they were just badly written. Turns out they rely on file virtualisation. For some reason, I don’t have any VirtualStore directories at all. So programs that insist on writing to “C:\Program Files” fail to work when you have moved all user files to D:\Users.
    Has anyone else had this problem?

  87. Jeff Cooper on

    I just moved my users directory to D:\Users on two Vista systems, and everything seemed to be working out fine…until I tried to share users files on my network. If I try to share a folder, it ends up sharing my entire Users directory! Has anyone else had this problem? I try to share D:\Users\Jeff\Movies, and it ends up sharing D:\Users, so not only are all my user files shared on the network, but all files from every user on my system.

  88. Hauke on


    for me, the following steps are a bit easier in vista:


    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

    change “Profiles Directory” as desired to the other partition

    2) Create a new user – its profile will be created at the new location, accessible and usable for every program

    3) Copy essential files to the correct place

    4) voila

    It is like an unattended installation after you installed vista :)

    As I am too lazy creating an unattended installation, these steps are the first I take after reinstalling.


  89. Bonzip on

    Thanks Josuha, It worked well. I have just transferred to vista and have always had my data on a different drive. I always do this before installing any software.

    Now that we have done this for the first time, What about after a format again. Do you have to move the original user folder out of that drive and start from the beginning and once it is all done then copy the stuff back into the respective folders.


  90. Cathy C on

    Hi Joshua. I’m wondering if these principles would help in copying a local user profile over to a domain profile on the same PC. Despite my best efforts, I ended up creating and setting up a local profile that is connected to the domain network, using the MSSQL database with ODBC connection quite nicely, but I anticipate problems when we migrate to Exchange Server in the near future. Appreciate any thoughts you may have on this. I realize I can redo everything in the network profile, but was hoping there might be an easier way.

  91. Felipe Lizardo on

    Thank you!

  92. Change the name of my profile on

    how do i just change the name of my profile ?

  93. Pawel on

    I have some problems. After changeing the profile directory win defender doesn’t start, giving error 0x800106ba, and a funny thing – shortcuts in start menu don’t work… but only when they’re called from start menu. When I use the explorer to run the shortcuts they work. Can anyone tell me what did I do wrong?

  94. sbrowne40 on

    Hi Folks
    Excellent Artical from the original author and great feedback from all those who tried.
    I have one simple question to ask!
    Can the location of the new drive be a Network Drive?
    ie U:\User\
    where U: drives absolute address is \\User_Shares\
    I ask this as I have a small home network of 3 PC networked together (wired) using a Modem/Router that includes a clever Maxtor Network Drive (with IP address). If i can point the Profile to the network drive that will make all the users documents and settings available from any PC.

    Thanks in advance


  95. [...] Altering Vista ‘Smart Folder’ Locations Change User Profile Folder Location in Vista Joshua Mouch not read it all the way through…bit long for me… __________________ Note: This statement was [...]

  96. Wred on


    Seems the robocopy was a better solution for copying the files. I added a few params to the command:

    robocopy C:\Users D:\Users /MIR /E /XJ /COPYALL /DCOPY:T

    Not sure yet if this helps though. Also, if it complains about ntuser.dat, add /R:0 so that it’ll skip the file if it can’t overwrite (those are runtime files I believe and once you reboot, seems fine).


  97. Pegula on

    Guys, why bother with so much “hacking”…all you need to do is step by step location change for each folder – which is allowed my windows under Location TAB.


  98. Oleg Mamontov on

    Thanks, best dummy proof (for me) instructions

  99. johnsai50 on

    Joshua and commenters, thanks.
    Pegula, in my home premium vista, the only folders that have location tabs to allow movement are pictures and music, not documents nor any (many)of the others.

    I have decided to go with another approach, just create a backup partition and back up the users folders. Acronic true image can do this easily. Not what i really wanted to do but it should avoid major headaches. The biggest problem would seem to be the large backup file sizes of the C drive since it will include photos/music. maybe i will move those folders only to a separate partition. there you go.

  100. johnsai50 on

    update to oct 8 post; oddly, i have a second vista computer that came w/sp1, and it DOES have Location tabs for all the user folders, unlike my other vista machine. i have updated the non-sp1 machine using windows update. weird.

  101. MammonLord on

    It’s much easier to make a symbolic link. Using safe mode move the Users folder to the new location. You can then create a symbolic link called Users that points to the new location with this command line:
    mklink /D C:\Users “drive:\path\new location”
    Vista will think everything is in the default location so there’s no registry mining. Search wikipedia for “NTFS symbolic link” for more information.

  102. [...] Sollen alle Benutzerverzeichnisse umziehen gibt’s im Web ausführliche Anleitungen. [...]

  103. iztok on

    I have another, niftier solution, which saves you the entire registry editing mumbo-jumbo. Say you want to move just your %userprofile%, say c:\Users\JohnDoe on Vista, to your second logical drive D. Create a new account with administrative privileges say “migrator” and log in. Make sure that Folder Properties are set so that all files are visible including hidden and system files. Go to c:\Users\JohnDoe and rename it to c:\Users\JohnDoe_ then using Disk Management in the Computer Management Snapin mount drive D as local path c:\Users\JohnDoe and move all files from c:\Users\JohnDoe_ to drive D, followed by a removal of c:\Users\JohnDoe_. Log off and log in as JohnDoe, et voila. I suppose that a similar approach could be used to move the entire c:\Users. The good part of this is that you don’t need to change anything in the registry, the bad, when compared to using the UI options for changing locations of Documents, Pictures etc. only, is that when moving the entire profile you can’t use it on multiple computers (issues with unique GUIDS created upon the creation of a profile).

  104. [...] d’installées plus cette manip sera facile est rapide. Ce qui va suivre est inspiré du site par Josh Moush. Inutile de vous rabâcher l’éternel “faites des sauvegarde sinon vous [...]

  105. [...] Originally Posted by Canuck Let’s see what others have to say on this, I personally don’t think it’s possible as it’s an integral part of windows operations. Wondering if there’s a way of making a dummy folder on another drive and somehow linking the two? Good question I read one way to do it, that required editing the registry, which I have no problem with. But it says I need a mass copy/paste program for sifting through the registry… But, it doesn’t give me any help with finding the program I would need… Maybe after reading, someone here might be able to suggest a program? Change User Profile Folder Location in Vista Joshua Mouch [...]

  106. n1hilist on

    Another way of doing this, for just one user.

    1. Login as administrator
    2. create account for Bob
    3. login as Bob
    4. Logout
    5. Login as Administrator
    6. Move the “Bob” folder in c:\users to d:\ so that you now have d:\Bob (or such)
    7. mklink /j c:\users\Bob d:\Bob
    8. Reboot
    9. Login as Bob

  107. Dwight S. on

    holy shit im stuck. i just lubed up the doorknob to my bedroom, turned around, stood on my tiptoes, and slid it into my asshole. now i can’t get off of it! i’m commenting from my blackberry – please send help!!!!!!

  108. rick on

    performed a reg clean afterwards. machine running great! nice work!! joshmouch ;-)

  109. johnnydement on

    I did this and is working great, except a problem I don’t know if may be related, but I can’t think on any other cause…

    Now when I register soemthing, the registration info is not kept from session to session.

    So for example, if I put my registration details for alcohol, next time I reboot computer, I have to put again.

    any idea?

  110. walter on

    Hi Joshua it’s a gereat recipe! I’ve tested in a virtual machine and it works. My system is a Vista x64 with integrated SP1. Now my question, I can’t rename a lot of entrys in the registry that looks like this:

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Component Based Servicing\Packages\KB936330~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~]

    Has anyone a idea to rename locked entrys in the registry?

  111. Templates | keyongtech on

    [...] The only way to change the template location would be to change the location of your user profile.…tion-in-vista/ describes how to do this on Windows Vista. — Ed Bennett – MVP Microsoft Publisher [...]

  112. newbs on

    I used the above method to move the entire Users tree to a different drive when I first got a clean machine.

    My question now is: How do I do a re-install of Vista without losing my data?

    Whether due to “bit rot”, installing too much crap, general problems with Vista, etc., I have been having some problems with Vista, and I want to start over with a fresh install. I have all of my “user data” on a separate drive from the OS and program files (let’s call it D:).

    What I want to do is format and re-install Vista on my C: drive, move the “Users” tree over to D: as described by Joshua above, and create a new user account and slide in all of my old data, preferably without having to do a massive copy (since I probably have 100+ gigs under my original user profile directory).

    Is there an easy way to do this?

  113. Richard on

    I think you guys all think Vista is a real new OS. It is much more simple than any of the above optiosn to move a profile directory and maintain its rights.

    First I did as others mentioned. I changed the default location of users in the registry (HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList). I set the Default, ProfilesDirectory and Public keys to point at a seperate volume. (in my case D:\Users}. I then copied the C:\Users\Default and C:\Users\Public directories to the target (D:\Users in this case).

    Then I created a dummy admin, and logged in as my dummy admin, confirmed the location of the new admin profile in the secondary volume (i.e. D:\Users\Dummy)

    Now the trick: I first set my file view to allow my dummy admin to see invisible, hidden and system files. Then I right-click the Computer icon (or go to System in the Control Panel), select Properties and then choose Advanced System Properties. In the Advanced tab is a User Profiles section. Click the Settings button and you can move each profile right there, Be sure to move the profile to the same folder name. So if you are moving user JDoe and his profile is C:\Users\JDoe then make sure to move it to the same folder (i.e. d:\Users\JDoe). This will move the whole profile and keep the same user rights! No screwing around with command line or anything.

    In the registry make sure all your user profiles point to the right folders now. The user profiles will start with S-1-5-21-(lots of numbers) usually. If you see Short names like S-1-15-18, those are Service profiles, leave those be, only edit your user profile paths.

    Now log back in a your migrated user and enjoy.

    Caveat: Because you did not change the rights of the original C:\Users\profile directory you will not be able to rename or remove C:\Users. This isn’t a big deal as you are not using it anyway.

  114. Richard on

    Actually a correction to the above. You can actually log in as the migrated user and delete the old C:\User\ profile of that specific user, since they still own the folder.

    I menation that for the guy who had a 100 gig profile above. And sorry this still requires a copy.

  115. newbs on

    Thanks for the responses. One more question – does Vista identify certain folders by any kind of unique identifier other than the name of the directory/path? Here is what I am thinking of doing:

    Right now, I moved all users to D:\Users. So for instance, I have a D:\Users\JoeBlow directory tree for user “JoeBlow”.

    As I mentioned above, I am planning on doing a re-install of Vista on the C:\ drive. Can I:

    - first rename my current D:\Users to something like D:\UsersTmp
    - re-install the OS
    - create a new D:\Users directory and edit the registry as taught above
    - create a new user “JoeBlow” and login to create the proper directories
    - Delete the newly created D:\Users directory
    - Rename the D:\UsersTmp to D:\Users

    Will this work? Basically what I want to do is just re-isntall the OS without really touching any of the existing user accounts, just migrating them over to the fresh OS install. This really should be easier to do.

  116. OTI on

    Hi Josh,

    thx. for the detailed “how to”!

    “14. Find and download a program that will do a Search & Replace on the registry. I will not suggest one because I did not find one single program that worked perfectly. I ended up downloading a few different freeware applications and using all of them.”
    The lite version (for free) worked very well!

  117. Charles on

    Thanks For The Help!

    I was Having Problems with programs trying to save to the C drive when i installed DeepFreze on my client’s computers hopefully since these registry keys appear to include NI registry keys this process shoud work in XP by replacing C:\Users wit C:\Documents and Settings .

    Also This Process is great for those Who Re-Format Their Computer Every Semester around Finals To Get That Extra Boost Of Speed!

  118. ellaela-hd on
  119. Gabe on

    Now you can make hard links to directories, eliminating tht need to mess with the registry.

  120. [...] leave a comment » The proper way to recover your profile/data from a messed up computer is probably to use Windows backup and easy transfer to migrate your settings after system restore and other methods fail.  Here is an unofficial way to migrate the profile: [...]

  121. Hammer757 on

    I performed this today and everything seems ok except no Sound. no windows sounds,Winamp (mp3s etc) or in games. Im currently troubleshooting. If anyone has and ideas where I should start looking please reply

  122. Hammer757 on
  123. Hammer757 on

    Josh, Ive successfully performed your method on my existing Vista install but I am building a new PC for my wife and want to perform the install with the users on the D:\ partition from the start. Is this possible and if so can you point to a procedure. I looked around and am drawing blank.

    in the lead in you stated that one of the ways you found to move the user profile directory locations from the system drive is to Set the User Profile folder during setup using an unattended install file.

  124. James on

    Great article, stumbled upon it trying to do something very similar as had hit real limitations as even though directory’s under “user”, ie docs, music, downloads etc which were easy to relocate using the old way, which were on larger drive system still said no room when transfering by root virtual profile , how bad is that.

    lets hope windows7 handles user accounts better, as microsoft is fast in danger of becoming a dual boot gaming OS only with everything else under linux.

  125. [...] User Profile Location-Start Menu Problems (Vista 64) So I followed this guide…tion-in-vista/. Upon following it it seems to have worked successfully and now all my folders are on my 1 tb [...]

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  127. Benjol on

    Here is my experience, I scripted some bits which may be of interest to others attempting to do this:

  128. Khurram on

    Thanks again Josh for it, it also work on Win7x64 :).


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  135. slartibo on

    It is flat said a idiotic move of MS to provide a OS that cannot accomplish the most simple user management operation
    out of the box in a user friendly way. Thinking of corporate usage this is a pure joke.

    Your system drive will clog up with crap overtime all residing in the profile appdata path (gigs over gigs), and ure not able to resassign this path without major vasectomy to your registry and internal application connections.

    I just wonder why theres no System tool avail that will do this for people who dont want to fuzz around like that.

  136. Gutta on

    Works with windows 7!!!!

  137. Cordelia on

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  138. Grzegorz on

    Much more easier is build own Install CD using nLite or vLite and change location of user directory and many more system folders.

  139. JDonner on

    Crappy and not well tested solutions like this are some of the reasons why it’s so busy at computer helpdesk forums…sigh

  140. MRGCAV on

    I wrote This solution is for advanced users. It is complicated. Do not critize what you do not understand.
    Your statement is inaccurate.
    My method works.
    It you tried this and had a problem then you made an error.
    Please explain your problem and I will try to help.

  141. [...] Partition verschieben kann. Hab dazu eine Anleitung gefunden falls das jemand mal machen will! Change User Profile Folder Location in Vista Joshua Mouch Kleiner Tipp sollte man nur bei Neuinstallation machen da es ziemlich Aufwendig wird wenn schon [...]

  142. TeC on

    Thanks this information was quite helpful.
    I was lazy however and just deleted the original user and added another once I’d gotten to step #10. Convenient of course as it was a fresh install.

    Thanks again.

  143. K@0S on

    BUT an easier way, if you don’t want to both going through registry. IF you want to change the default USER folder locations just do this.
    1. create a new folder where you would like your folders to go to. E.g you may want to move your folders from c:\user to say P: drive or another drive.
    2. within this ‘new’ folder create other folders for the folders for the ones you wish to move from your ‘old’ user folder. e.g P:\userx\documents
    3. Go to your default user (name) folder.
    4. Right mouse button click on the folder you wish to move. In our example ‘documents’.
    5. Click properties.
    6. Select the ‘location’ tab.
    7. select ‘move’ the browse to the new location, the folder you just created. E.g. ‘ p:\userx\documents’
    8. repeat

    Simple. Just create a new folder in the location you want and go via the file properties, location tab, in the folder you wish to move from the default user area.

  144. jess on


    I have through this post but have this situation.

    The first owner of the laptop is Sharon. After installation, the user’s profile directory is:


    Now the laptop is turned over to Rica since Sharon resigned. I just changed the user account “Sharon” (an admin) to “Rica” and the name Rica appears when you click the Windows Logo button. But everything is still named “Sharon” since it is the name in the “Users” directory.

    How can I rename C:\Users\Sharon to C:\Users\Rica? OR can I just add C:\Users\Rica and then delete Sharon?

    Please help Sir!

  145. SD on

    This is fantastic! Works perfectly. Thanks a lot!

  146. Viknesh on

    This is great! This is probably the first thing I did (after installing Firefox, of course) on the my laptop when I installed the Windows 7 RC! This method is great; tons better than the half-baked folder-redirection solutions floating around the web. I wish Microsoft made it easier to do this though, because it seems like something people might want when they have multiple drives/partitions.

  147. John Brett on

    This is by far the best article I’ve found on migrating user profiles.

    Having done this (3 times now) on Windows 7 RC, here are some of my findings:

    1) This is much, much easier if you start from a clean installation. In my case, I created a sacrificial first account during installation, ran through the process and then created the accounts I actually wanted. Once everything was working, I deleted the first account (make sure you have a working administration account first!).

    2) Set the ACLs on the newly created folders (D:\Users, then D:\Users\Default, D:\Users\Public). They are non-trivial in Windows 7, and it gets very upset if the permissions are not set correctly. I lost desktop search and upset IE8 by getting this wrong. You can open two explorer windows, and bring up the security tabs for both old and new folders, and then edit the security settings one at a time. Pay attention to the ‘Apply To’ settings – many of the security settings apply only to subfolders + files.

    3) The benefit of (1) is that you only need to copy the files for Default and Public, since there isn’t any user account data yet that you care about. If you do have to move existing user accounts, once again pay very careful attention to security settings on the root folder, including ownership. Thankfully, in Windows 7, you can assign ownership of a folder to a different user (i.e. the user who’s profile you’ve just moved).

    4) Create symbolic links for “All Users” and “Default User” pseudo-folders.
    D:\Users> mklink /d “All Users” C:\ProgramData
    D:\Users> mklink /j “Default User” D:\Users\Default

    I now have a number of working Windows 7 installations with user profile data on a separate volume – happy bunny.

  148. cdr on

    In our school we have dual boot xp/vista computers. This is how we move the entire Vista User profiles folder to a different partition (E: in our case).

    First we do a regular Vista installation.
    Then we run the following startup script:

    REM robocopy the user profiles folder to E:
    robocopy C:\Users E:\Users /MIR /E /XJ /COPYALL /DCOPY:T
    REM remove user profiles folders/link from C:
    rmdir /S /Q C:\Users
    rmdir “C:\Documents and Settings”
    REM create on C: symbolic links that refer to E:
    mklink /J C:\Users E:\Users
    mklink /J C:\Documents and Settings” E:\Users

    We activate this script with a local policy (gpedit.msc): Computer configuration – Windows settings – Scripts – Startup. We also enable two other options: Computer configuration – Administrative Templates\System\Scripts\Run startup scripts asynchronously and Run startup scripts visible.
    The script has to be a computer startup script in order to run it before any profile is loaded.
    After we reboot the pc and the script has run once, we remove all previously mentioned settings.

    We’ve been doing this for some time and until now everything seems to work fine.

  149. Anonymous on

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  151. joshmouch on

    FYI to the readers:
    I have deleted a comment by Jay ( that falsely accuses me of plagiarizing this article from him.

    As proof that I have not, simply go to:
    and notice that he applauded my article, claimed that he used it successfully, and then admitted having improved upon it.

  152. Benjol on

    Hi Josh,

    Saw your comment. I know, I know.

    I know about your post here, because it was part of the inspiration for mine.

    I know about Jay, because as you can see, he left a similar comment on my blog. I had an exchange of mails with him, where I asked for proof. As I recall he sent me the same link as you, and when I pointed out that the chronology didn’t correspond to his version, I heard no more.

    FYI, I’ve posted related stuff here and here:

    (Delete as appropriate)

  153. [...] Here is a link to how to do the same with the ‘User’ Folder in Windows Vista Comments (0) [...]

  154. Fabian on

    I’ve used this method several times for Vista installations and it’s worked perfectly.

    However, now I’ve just installed Windows 7 (Clean Install) and am running into a problem. After changing the registry to point to my D drive and trying to log in as a newly created user, I get the following error message:

    “The user profile service failed the logon. User profile cannot be loaded”

    Any thoughts? I’ve noticed several comments here about successful results on Windows 7, but maybe that’s only RC?

  155. [...] little, but it looked like a lot of work for what I was doing. I've also seen a 21 step method by Joshua Mouch which still involved copying the files. Is there a way to just change the user name and then [...]

  156. Curt on

    I have the same problem as Fabian. Mine is a clean Windows 7 install with nothing else loaded. I want to do the move first.

  157. Fabian on

    Curt, I figured out a way around it, sorry I forgot to post it. I created a new user without making any registry changes and logged into that account (so the user folder was created in the c: drive by default). I then logged in as a different (temporary) user, and navigated to

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

    but this time under “ProfileList” I selected the user I just created (“S-1-5-21-648192605-1975028217-1802354686-1003″ in my case, but yours will probably be different), and changed the “ProfileImagePath” key to point to my d drive (D:\Users\username)instead of c. I then moved my user files to that location, logged out of the temp account, and logged back in as that user.

    Once I was successfully logged in, I also changed the “Profile List” keys as Josh instructs above, for good measure. Also, you might need to adjust the permissions for your user folder so that your new user has “full control”, or you get weird behavior like not being able to download stuff in IE.

    Finally, I deleted my temporary account and the residual “users” folder in the C: drive. I’ve been using it for almost a week and it’s been working perfectly. The only thing I don’t know is if I create a new user at this point, whether it will work or I’ll run into the same problem, but it’s not something I need to do personally.

    Hope this makes sense and works for you too.

  158. Curt on

    Thanks Fabian. That’s seems to have done the trick. After making the changes and before I deleted the C:\Users I noticed that the Libraries (Documents, Music, etc.) pointed to the right directories, but also included the status of “unresponsive”. I just deleted the directories from the libraries and re-added them and the status message was gone.

    Not sure about the “full control”. When I right click on the directory and the Security tab, I don’t see my user ID. I do see Authenticated Users, Users, SYSTEM, and Administrators. My user ID is set as administrator, which has full control. I don’t use IE so maybe I won’t see the problem.

  159. [...] alternative methods are discussed in detail here,  and I have quoted extensively from that article, but the outcome of this long discussion is that [...]

  160. Christian Vigh on

    Hi Joshua,

    I just wanted to say : thanks for your explanation on how to move user profile data on another partition ! I followed it step by step and it just ran fine, without no surprise.

    Great job !

  161. [...] C. Here is the guide I was following, anyone know how I can set C:/Users/name to D:/Users/name ? GUIDE BTW I would prefer to not reinstall windows. __________________ "If I'm so wonderful then [...]

  162. Philip in Boise on

    Great, thanks! That helped a lot.

    But now I’ve got a new predicament. I installed Win7 Beta, then followed the above steps… Then when Win7 was released, went out and bought it… and tried to upgrade to it. The installer complained that this wasn’t a supported configuration to upgrade. Huh?

    Anyway, so I did an install *over* the previous install (which saved the previous install as C:\Windows.old)… but now it’s unaware of all my users living out on D:\Users.

    How do I repopulate the O.S. with usernames, passwords, guids, and homedir information now that I’ve had to reinstall?

    Thanks again.

  163. [...] tab > move. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This should work in 7 also, moving the entire profile : Change User Profile Folder Location in Vista ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows [...]

  164. Charlie on

    It works on Windows 7, I moved the entire profile to my D: drive. Now when I create a new account is being created under D:.

  165. ABBDVD on

    Wow! Thanks for your help!!! I was trying for more than 3 hours with various other solutions that are offered in the web. I even did the changes on the registry various times but i didn’t realize that a new user would solve the problem.

    I found a short cut for my situation though. I just set up Win7 so i don’t have any user data or settings on it yet. When I saw that the administrator account is created in the new path i just logged in in that account, deleted and then created again my user account and that was it!!!

  166. Chris Allen on

    Joshua – I am pleased to confirm that the insructions for Vista worked flawlessly in a clean install of Windows 7. Thanks very much for your help.

  167. Drewfus on

    have you read this?…

  168. Profiles on

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  169. j. hoyt on

    Thank you so much for this post. it was brilliant, everything worked as you stated.

    Just to note for non-English installations of Windows Vista – the folder name for Users may *APPEAR* different – for example, on my friends Danish computer, Users appeared as “Brugere”. But, the path is actually still “Users”. So, all the regedit changes still need to use *Users* as the value.

    By the way, i used a program called RegeditX that has a decent crawler – was able to change all but 1 (because it had multiple values) key using this program.

    Once again, thank you, this post is invaluable.


  170. steveyboy on

    Some good info in here from Joshua and all those replies. I decided on a slight variation of how to move my profiles to a different drive because all this coincided with some windows file corruption. All my data was already backed up in a Vista file backup. So I reinstalled Windows and then created the users (in the default location).

    I then carried out the procedure detailed here to point the profiles to the new location. I restored the user account data from the file backup (which was backed up as c:\users\ and it put it in the new location automatically d:\users\. I did not have to tell it to restore to a new location, so obviously the Vista file backup uses those registry keys updated in the previous steps.

    By the way, the registry tool I used which seemed to search and replace all relevant entries in one hit was Registry Toolkit from
    This has both 32 and 64 bit versions, and it is important to run a 64 bit registry editor when running 64 bit Vista.
    Thanks again all.

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  172. Jorge Murill on

    It worked like a charm for me using W7. Each time a I have to reimaged my lap and do this process, after some minor issues, I was able always to set D:\users as described.


  173. Lucas Barros on

    Hi. After the 9 step i got the error.
    C:\windows\system32\config\systemprofile\Desktop refers to a location that is unavailable. it could be on a hard drive on this computer.or on a network. check to make sure that the disk is properly inserted, or that you are connected to the internet or your network and then try again. if it still cannot be located the information might have been moved to a different location.

    I’m using Windows 7.

  174. [...] Change User Profile Folder Location in Vista « Joshua Mouch. [...]

  175. BillP on

    Hi. Wow Google will unearth some corpses won’t it!

    re: the solution, is there any real reason to do this? What about when you partition and format a new volume, and you get the opportunity of assigning a drive letter… on that same screen, you can instead select a directory as a mount point.

    THAT would be the “real” unix way; mounting a partition somewhere in the FS hierarchy. In essence, mounting /dev/sdb1 or /dev/da2s1 as /home. Then C:\Users would still exist, and Windows wouldn’t need re-programming to know where to look for stuff, and yet your data would be on said new (and separate) volume?

    All shell scripts would work without modification for the UUID method, as well as the other technical glitches encountered with the D: method.

  176. [...] Here is a link to how to do the same with the ‘User’ Folder in Windows Vista This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← Hello world! [...]

  177. mat on

    Pretty cool but I wasn’t able to do it since I tried it on server that is a domain.

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  179. Eagles on

    There is an easier way to accomplish this without tampering with registry keys by using native NTFS junctions / symbolic links
    These instructions will assume a moderate literacy with Windows file systems:
    1. Logon as a different user than the target user’s profile to be moved
    2. Use explorer to create the new directory to house the moved profile
    3. Note the targets EXISTING (premoved) directory, such as “c:\users\administrator”
    4. MOVE the targets existing directory to the new location, since it was moved, the “administrator” example directory should no longer exist in c:\users
    5 Start a command prompt ( DOS shell), from the start button, just enter “cmd.exe” into the run bar without quotes
    6. enter / paste the following non case sensitive command into the cmd window:

    mklink /j c:\users\administrator NEWLOCATION

    e.g., if the Administrator profile was moved the d:\Admin directory, the mklink command would read

    mklink /j c:\user\administrator d:\admin

    7. Verify the profiles new location from the DOS window with a directory command such as

    dir c:\users\administrator

    and the profile contents should display accordingly

    It is crucial to use the targets prior directory location since the system and programs are mapping to it, so if the targets old profile was located in c:\users\administrator, the mklink command has to use the same c:\users\administrator identically spelled.

    This will also eliminated any of the sloppy hardcoded applications listed in the bloggers 20th step and eliminates any necessity of monitoring profile activity with procexp or other semi sophisticated thread tools

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