[15 October, 2008]

How to move an entire user profile in Windows XP
Useful for EEE PC, but works on any XP machine

UPDATE: you need to log into the user profile at once before moving it.

This article explains how to move everything that is usually found in C:\Documents and Settings\User Name to a new location.

Since the EEE pc comes with such limited hard drive space, and especially because XP is installed on the smaller of the two partitions, many EEE users need to know how to move an entire user profile to a new location.

I have an EEE 901 with XP Pro, and wanted to move my "userprofile" in the shell folders registry entries.

I tried lots of things, including moving the folders by drag-and-drop, using TweakUI, and using RegEdit to modify the shell folders. None of that worked -- I could move some of the folders, but many of them reverted back when I restarted.

This is especially a problem for the Application Data folders, because if you need to install your system several times (while perfecting your nLite CD for example), it is nice not to lose your preferences each time you reinstall.

It turns out that moving the user profile (%userprofile% in the registry) is extremely simple. The technique is not widely known, but Windows actually provides a built-in tool for doing this.

It's extremely simple (two steps) but to eliminate possible confusion I have listed all the details:

1. restart under a different username, with administrator privileges

2. create a new, empty folder where you want to keep the profile (I used y:\System -- see notes below)

3. right click on "My Computer" and select properties

4. click the "Advanced" tab, then User Profiles Settings

5. select the user you want to move, then "Copy To"

6. browse to the new folder you created at #2 and click "Ok"

7. quit out of system properties

8. open RegEdit (using Windows-R then open regedit)

9. navigate to:

     HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
     SOFTWARE
     Microsoft
     WindowsNT
     CurrentVersion
     Profilelist

10. In the folder Profilelist you will see a list of entries. Just use the down arrow to look at the entries until you seen the one that has the user name in the "ProfileImagePath"

11. Change ProfileImagePath to the location of your new folder (Y:\System)

12. Log off and log back on to the newly-moved user.

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What worked well for me is the following:

I changed the drive letter of the second EEE 901 partition to Y:, because I wanted a letter that I know will never be in demand by another drive.

And, I wanted my documents to be the root directory of Y:, not in a folder somewhere.

First I used Administrative Tools  Computer Management  Disk Management to change the drive letter of D: to Y:.

Then I used the technique described above to move the user profile into Y:\System

Then I used TweakUI (you'll easily find it on Google) and went under My Computer  Special Folders to move "My Documents" to Y:
If this was useful, or you have a question, let me know.   [ more ]