Alternate title: BOY did I mess up. I hope this isn't tmi - trying to keep it brief but putting the story in place but it's not easy for me.
Coming from DOS, WinNT, XP, into the world of Win8 install on a small (128G) SSD, and trying to work under a deadline at 2AM (at least that's my excuse). Bottom line: I blew up my Users directory.
My system is essentially hand-built and cobbled together from an old machine which originally had Vista as its OS. In 2009 I did a clean install of Win7 on a new drive (original drives are 350G; I put 7 on a 1.5T). In early 2011, I upgraded my video card to Nvidia GeForce (certified by Adobe) and changed motherboard, case, memory (DDR2 to DDR3) and processor (Intel QuadCore to i7 Brookfield) in order to use Adobe Mercury Engine. Had the mod done by MicroCenter tech who got system to work without re-install of Win7. (Could have tackled myself; did NOT want to reinstall OS, nor did I want to tear my hair out trying to get it to work; leave it to the guys that do it all day every day. MicroCenter here in Yonkers, NY is one of my favorite places EVER to get anything computing done. RIP CompUSA and its ilk; much as I missed you, you didn't hold a candle to these people!)
The one big "gotcha" in my system: the boot loader was still on the now-unusable Vista system drive (not that the DRIVE was unusable...VISTA was unusable, no reason to install new mb chipset stuff). That drive failed on me steadily over the past week, and I used the failure as an excuse to purchase Win8 (which I had supported for a couple of clients) and a brand-new SSD with a mind to installing the OS and 64bit progs on the SSD and all else on a different drive. MS' Win8 install script nicely (not really) installed the boot loader right back on that old Vista drive which subsequently failed, leaving me with the modern friendly version of "NO OS" at a command prompt. A two hour call with MS Tech Support got ME to do the search for bootrec.exe and how to make it work, seemingly against all odds, at the command line.
Big mistake not to buy a fast new drive for the other stuff i.e. Users, Programs(x86) etc.; being corrected between tomorrow and Tuesday.
Got Win8 installed and running in default mode, i.e. everything including the kitchen sink installed on the SSD. Went right to Adobe CC and installed Premiere Pro to the SSD, because I needed to make two DVD images of a FAUST (opera) production I had done video for. BIG mistake: FAUST0513.prproj is only 31 megabytes in size, but it contains pointers to 48 huge .m2ts files (12 performances of FAUST @ 4 acts per) and deposited about 70 gigs of files in my media cache directory which in my haste to get the project done I never specified in the newly-installed PPro. SO, after getting my DVDs imaged and ready to copy onto disc (for a cast party yesterday - Sunday - evening) I went into "Computer" and noticed a big red mark on my C: drive - there was 6 gigs left out of 128!!!!
Unwilling to deep-six the media cache files I found an article - it may have been on this or a similar forum - about moving the Users directory, which involved several Windows commands new to me: mklink and robocopy. Although had it NOT been 2AM I would have read a LOT about Robocopy before using it (with the /MIR switch), I just blindly, mindlessly followed the helpful writer of the article. All the drive letters had changed, of course, and I found a drive that happened to have plenty of room for my Users directory (which of course will ultimately contain such goodies as my ENTIRE music collection including iTunes); I think it was the F: drive. NOT REALIZING UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE that F: was in fact C: when the system was booted as Win7, an install I want to keep and use multi-boot. So I had the fun experience of robocopying my little Users directory OVER MY WIN7 USERS DIRECTORY. the /MIR switch had the lovely effect of BLOWING AWAY such little goodies as said iTunes directory, all my music, all my downloads, all "My Documents"...and my entire Outlook .pst files with archived email back to sometime in 2006. For reasons I'm not ready to describe, my backup of this material is not usable.
As a result, I have both Win7 and Win8 trying to use the Users directory at c: (win7 bootup which is F: in win8 bootup). I also lost 287 gigs of files.
I know, I'm an idiot. NOT a COMPLETE idiot, though, because the next thing I did was use GetDataBack for NTFS to retrieve EVERY file that had been deleted, NONE of which showed any corruption by overwrite, to a directory on an external USB3 drive, including the entire directory structure of my Users directory.
I have two Users directories: talking a system booted in Win7 (win8 is not currently operable) one is on C:\, a 1.5T drive with about 500G free space (half created by blowing away the Win7 Users directory). I assume that the reason Win8 is not operating (won't recognize my password) is that (I suspect) a Users directory is not intended to be used by two different operating systems on the same computer, or if it can be configured to allow that, this one wasn't.
Dear reader: bless you for getting this far. We FINALLY come to the question...and I'm praying this reaches the eyes of someone patient enough to slog through. Or maybe you're an opera fan.
WHAT can I do to get the most functionality first off in Win7, and then prepare a Users directory on a separate disc that can be used when I repair or - likely - re-install Win8? Can I possibly use Robocopy to put the Users directory that's currently on Win7 C: on a fresh drive, and then Robocopy the recovered Users\Jay directory into c:\Users\Jay and then reboot into Win7, praying a bit as it loads that things will see what they need to see in order to work properly...iTunes, Outlook etc.?
There's a special place in Heaven for people who have both the knowledge and the patience to deal with a situation like this (and a poster - my apologies - who probably could have delivered the question in a lot less words, but I'm not good at that). In advance, I thank you mightily for your aid and assistance.