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Move Users Folder Location in Windows 10

 

How to Move Users Folder to another Location in Windows 10

information   Information

Information

Users including all present and future user profiles and folders while installing Windows, before any user accounts are created, as well as later on an already installed system.

The advantage of this method is that it changes the value of one internal Windows 10 , being a “Do it once and forget” procedure. Changing the variable takes care of all existing and future user profiles, locating them when created to selected drive or partition. The method is fail proof and reversible.

The method described in this tutorial allows relocating Windows 10 main profile folderincluding all present and future user profiles and folders while installing Windows, before any user accounts are created, as well as later on an already installed system.

When Windows 10 is installed, 5 or 6 system folders are created depending on chosen bit-version:

  • PerfLogs (Performance Logs), where Windows stores performance and reliability logs

  • Program Files, where applications and software are installed. Windows x86 (32-bit) stores all applications here, Windows x64 (64-bit) only native 64-bit applications

  • Program Files (x86), exists only in Windows x64. All non-x64 applications are stored here

  • Windows, which contains core operating system files and drivers

  • ProgramData, where some applications store application and user specific settings and configuration files.

  • Users. This is the “home” of all user profiles. When a new user account is created and this new user logs in first time, Windows creates a set of user specific folders (UsersUsername)

Microsoft does not recommend relocating, moving

ProgramData, Program Files

,

Program Files (x86)

and

Windows

folders. Too much is depending on information and data stored on these folders and relocating them might cause serious issues. However, there’s simply nothing preventing us to move the

Users

folder and everything it contains, including the Temp and AppData folders. This tutorial will show how to move (relocate) the

Users

folder by changing internal

Windows Environment Variables

.

Moving Users folder can save a lot of space on system disk. Pictures, mp3’s videos, documents and so on, a user folder with its subfolders can be tens, sometimes hundreds of gigabytes.

Personally, when installing Windows I always use Audit Mode to relocate Users folder, leaving system drive only for Windows and applications.

Please notice that the Users folder can only be relocated to an internal hard disk or SSD. On tablets with often small internal storage it would be practical to move the Users to an SD card but it can’t be done.

Please notice that the Users folder can only be relocated to an internal hard disk or SSD. On tablets with often small internal storage it would be practical to move the Users to an SD card but it can’t be done.

 Contents:

Method One:

Relocating Users folder during installation

Method Two:

Relocating Users folder on an existing Windows installation

Upgrade:

Upgrade and Sysprep: what to do when upgrading from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1

1. Install Windows 10

To clean install Windows 10, see this tutorial:

To clean install Windows 10, see this tutorial: Windows 10 – Clean Install

If you don’t have install media for Windows 10, see download instructions in this tutorial:

Windows 10 ISO Download

information   Information

Information

For some reason Sysprep sometimes fails when Windows is connected to the network when installed. I recommend installing Windows without any whatsoever network connection, connecting Windows to network only when you have entered the Audit Mode as told below.

When installation reaches the Region Selection screen after reboot press CTRL + SHIFT + F3:

Windows reboots now entering a so called Audit Mode using the built-in administrator account. When Windows Desktop will be shown you’ll notice the System Preparation Tool dialog in the middle of your screen. Close it for now by pressing the Cancel button:

2. Create an unattended answer file


If you installed Windows without a network connection, you can connect to network now.

The relocation procedure itself will be done with a native Windows 10 tool called System Preparation Tool (Sysprep). Sysprep alone can quite little, it needs instructions. These instructions it gets from an XML script file, an .

In our case we need a very simple answer file. It simply contains two important details, instructions to Sysprep:

  • Bit version of the Windows (32 or 64 bit)

  • New location of Users folder (for example D:Users instead of default C:Users)

OK, let’s start. Open Notepad, paste the following code to a new file:

Change the following details if needed (see the parts in red in above code):

  • Line 4: The value of variable ProcessorArchitecture must be amd64 if you are installing a 64 bit Windows regardless of if you have an Intel or AMD processor, and x86 if you are installing a 32 bit Windows

  • Line 6: The value in ProfilesDirectory tags is the new location for the Users folder, in this example answer file it will be moved to D:Users

    .Be sure that the drive into which you are relocating the Users folder is empty or at least does not contain any Windows system folders, especially Users folder or parts of it from any current or previous Windows installation.”[/

warning   Warning

Warning

Please read this before proceeding!

Windows “likes” to set the the drive ID letters like this:

  • Drive C: > The system drive where Windows will be installed
  • Drive D: > First optical drive (CD / DVD drive)
  • Drive E: > Second partition on the same disk where the C: is located, or in case that disk only has one partition, the first partition on the secondary disk

Now when you sysprep telling it to move the Users to a specific drive, after the reboot Windows might find that intended target drive for Users folder has another drive ID letter and your intended drive D: is now E:. Sysprep fails and you have to reinstall.

To be sure you are able to use your chosen partition for the relocated Users folder you need to set the drive letters manually before the sysprep is run. In Audit Mode you can do this for instance with Disk Management by manually changing the drive letters. In below example I want to secure that Users folder will be moved to D drive:

  • Change the optical drive letter to something at the end of the alphabet, I use W:
  • Change the drive letter of the partition or disk you intend to use for the Users folder to D:
  • If the partition or disk you want to use already has a letter D:, change it to something else, close the Disk Management, open it again and change the letter back to D:

See the tutorial at our sister site the Seven Forums:

Windows “likes” to set the the drive ID letters like this:To be sure you are able to use your chosen partition for the relocated Users folder you need to set the drive letters manually before the sysprep is run. In Audit Mode you can do this for instance with Disk Management by manually changing the drive letters. In below example I want to secure thatfolder will be moved todrive:See the tutorial at our sister site the Seven Forums: Drive Letter – Add, Change, or Remove in Windows – Windows 7 Help Forums

Save the file as an XML file to root of any drive except C:. In this example I have already renamed my D: drive to User Profiles and save the answer file there as D:relocate.xml:

3. Run Sysprep

Almost there! Open elevated Command Prompt (WMP Network Sharing Service is stopped, give the following command:

net stop wmpnetworksvc

The service is most probably not running but if it is, it will now be stopped. When this service is running, Sysprep fails.

Now the Sysprep command itself. Type the following:

%windir%system32sysprepsysprep.exe /oobe /reboot /unattend:d:relocate.xml

Almost there! Open elevated tutorial) . To ensure thatis stopped, give the following command:The service is most probably not running but if it is, it will now be stopped. When this service is running, Sysprep fails.Now thecommand itself. Type the following:

The above command tells system to run the Sysprep from WindowsSystem32Sysprep folder reading instructions from the unattended answer file

D:relocate.xml

, prepare the computer for an

OOBE

boot (OOBE = the first boot of newly installed Windows) and finally reboot when ready.

Hit Enter, you will see Sysprep starting to do its magic:

That’s it. Windows runs now the OOBE First Run boot and you can continue from the

installation tutorial step 12

where we left the installation in the beginning of this tutorial. When finally at Windows Desktop, you will notice that the main profile folder and your user account in it have been moved to drive D: (or any other drive you selected):

Method Two

Relocating Users folder on an existing Windows installation

warning   Warning

Warning

Sysprepping an existing installation with an OEM pre-installed Windows is risky. Manufacturers might have their own unattended answer files in place which ignore your custom unattended files. Anything can go wrong when sysprepping an existing installation, I do not recommend doing this.

If you decide to try it and it fails and you post about it, I will remind you about this warning asking you to restore the system image you made before proceeding.

Short: Trying this Method Two, relocating Users on an existing installation might force you to do a complete reinstall or restore your PC to factory state.

Do not proceed before creating a system image Sysprepping an existing installation with an OEM pre-installed Windows is risky. Manufacturers might have their own unattended answer files in place which ignore your custom unattended files. Anything can go wrong when sysprepping an existing installation, I do not recommend doing this.If you decide to try it and it fails and you post about it, I will remind you about this warning asking you to restore the system image you made before proceeding.Short:Trying this Method Two, relocating Users on an existing installation might force you to do a complete reinstall or restore your PC to factory state.


A video about Method Two:

Note   Note

Note

With Windows 10 version 1703 and later you do not have to disable existing users as shown in video! In fact, in doing so might even lock you completely out from Windows, forcing you to do a reinstall.

Version 1703 (build 15063 and later), do not disable / deactivate existing user accounts as hown in video!

1. Create an unattended answer file

Create an answer file exactly as told above in Method One Step 2.

2. Run Sysprep

Run Sysprep exactly as told above in Method One Step 3.

3. OOBE Boot

Although you already had Windows 10 installed, after Sysprep the first run OOBE boot is always run. This means that Windows goes through the initial setup process. You continue now from

step 12 in installation tutorial

.

Two things to notice now:

  • You don’t have to enter the product key now even Windows will ask it. Entering it does no harm but if you want to save some key presses, you can simply click Skip button:
  • Your original user accounts have not disappeared, everything is still there. However, the OOBE boot requires a user account to be created but if you try your existing account, local or Microsoft account, you get an error message:
  • To work around this, simply set up a dummy local account (see installation tutorial step 19). You can then later log in to your original account and remove this dummy local account.

Upgrade

Upgrade and Sysprep: what to do when upgrading from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1

  • See

    1. Move ProgramData back to C: drive

    below for how to prepare Windows for an upgrade by moving the ProgramData folder back to C: drive if you have relocated it to another drive.

  • See

    2. Edit Registry to Sysprep an Upgraded Windows

    below for how to run Sysprep on an upgraded Windows.

Note   Note

Note

Please notice that with the Build 10586 (TH2 version 1511) and later there has been no issues in upgrading even with relocated Users folder.

If upgrading from Windows 7 with not only the Users folder but also the ProgramData folder relocated, you have to move ProgramData back to C: drive before upgrading as told below. Windows 10 does not support relocating Programdata, nor can you upgrade with relocated ProgramData. This is not necessary if the ProgramData folder is not relocated.

Don’t panic, this is quite easy :).

1. Move Users (and possible ProgramData) back to C: drive

Open Notepad, paste the following code to a new file:

Change the following detail if needed (see the part in red in above code):

  • The value of variable ProcessorArchitecture must be amd64 if you are installing a 64 bit Windows regardless of if you have an Intel or AMD processor, and x86 if you are installing a 32 bit Windows

Save the file as an XML file to root of any drive.

Now do steps 2 and 3 in Method Two above, continue from below when done.

2. Edit Registry to Sysprep an Upgraded Windows

When running Sysprep on an upgraded Windows you might get an error message about Sysprep not being able to validate your Windows installation, Sysprep will simply not run. Checking the log file you will find out the reason in plain text:

Code:

Sysprep will not run on an upgraded OS. You can only run Sysprep on a custom (clean) install version of Windows.

We need to edit Windows registry to “fool” Windows to think this is a clean install instead of an upgrade. To do this open the Registry Editor (WIN + R, type regedit, hit Enter), browse to key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMSetup

Delete both the DWORD Upgrade (right pane) and KEY Upgrade (left pane), see screenshot. The system warns you that skies can fall down if you delete these items, just laugh loud and accept the deletion :

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMSetupStatusSysprepStatus, if either DWORD CleanupState or DWORD GeneralizationState has any other value than 7, change it to 7 by double clicking the DWORD in question and entering the new value:

Close the

Registry Editor. Open Command Prompt, type slmgr /dli and hit Enter to open Software License Manager. Close it as soon as it opens, close Command Prompt.

You can now upgrade to next build, and when the upgrade is done you can sysprep the upgraded Windows . After the upgrade has finished and you have rebooted back to desktop, repeat this step (registry editing and slmgr /dli as told above), then do the Method Two from above. For Windows 8 and 8.1 users, continue from step 1.2 in the Eight Forums tutorial http://www.eightforums.com/tutorials…tion-disk.html.

Note   Note

Note

If you will move the Users back to the same drive where it was earlier before the upgrade, be sure to empty the drive first to a backup location. Drive should be empty before moving the Users from C:, you can after the relocation process then copy your files back to corresponding folders in the new Users folder.

That’s it folks, have fun with Windows 10!

Kari

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