User Profiles - Relocate to another Partition or Disk

How to Relocate User Profiles to another Partition or Disk in Windows 8

information   Information
The method described in this tutorial allows relocating user profiles and folders already while installing Windows 8, before any user accounts are created, as well as after installation on an already installed system.

The advantage of this method is that it changes some internal Windows 8 environment variables, being a “Do it once and forget” procedure. Changing the variables 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.

When Windows 8 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 (Users\Username)

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. However, there's simply nothing preventing us to move the Users folder. In this tutorial we show how to move (relocate) the Users folder by changing an internal Windows Environment Variable.

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



Note   Note
Screenshots from pre-release version Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Actual Windows 8 has different colors but the functions are the same, tutorial can be used as it is.



warning   Warning

An upgraded Windows cannot be sysprepped. As this method is based in sysprepping, this tutorial is valid only for Windows setups which have not been upgraded.

This means that if you have for instance in-place upgraded Vista or Seven to Eight you cannot sysprep and this tutorial cannot be used in your case. The same applies if you have upgraded Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro or Windows 8 to 8.1.

Notice that a repair install is also an upgrade install, so if you have ever done a repair install (= in-place upgrade to same edition), you cannot sysprep.

When sysprepping an existing Windows setup, it only works if the Windows 8 was installed clean and has never been upgraded or repaired using repair install, or if it is the original pre-installed Windows 8

Although I have repeatedly told that relocating ProgramData will cause Windows Store and Apps as well as PC Settings not to function, people keep doing it using the method described in this tutorial.

DO NOT RELOCATE PROGRAMDATA! YOUR WINDOWS STORE AND APPS WILL NOT WORK IF PROGRAMDATA IS MOVED FROM ITS DEFAULT LOCATION.




1.Audit Mode

1.1. Boot to Audit Mode when installing Windows 8


(If you have already installed Windows 8, continue from step 1.2.)

Start Windows 8 installation normally.

When installation after a reboot or two is completed and Windows 8 comes to Personalize page (see screenshot below) press CTRL + SHIFT + F3 (press and hold down CTRL and SHIFT, press F3 still holding CTRL and SHIFT down, release all three keys).


Win8_RelocateUsers_012.png

DO NOT ENTER PC NAME HERE OR CLICK NEXT! Just press CTRL + SHIFT + F3.

Your computer reboots now. Don’t panic, it’s just doing what it really should do. Windows 8 starts now in so called Audit Mode, using built-in administrator account to let you to modify Windows before any user profiles and user specific folders are created.

Continue from step 2.


1.2. Boot to Audit Mode from existing Windows 8 installation

First you need to open Command Prompt using built-in administrative account: hover pointer over bottom left corner of the desktop, right click to open Start Menu , select Command Prompt (Admin):

Win8_RelocateUsers_005.png Win8_RelocateUsers_006.png

Command Prompt window opens. Type this to command prompt:
Code:
[B]C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep\Sysprep.exe /audit /reboot[/B]

Win8_RelocateUsers_015.png

Hit Enter.Windows reboots now to Audit Mode, "thinking" it's been started first time. Text Preparing can be seen on screen.

If you are interested to know more about Audit Mode, here are some links for you to read:




2. Audit Mode

Windows has now booted in Audit Mode using built-in administrator account, and you should see Metro interface. Click Desktop to enter classic Windows desktop:

Win8_RelocateUsers_003.png

To start, click Cancel to close System Preparation Tool:

Win8_RelocateUsers_004.png


If you don’t have a second internal hard disk or you have not created and formatted an extra partition on your system disk, you need first to create one. Notice that the drive or partition don't have to be empty, but especially if relocating on an existing installation it must be big enough to allow Users folder to be moved there. When we sysprep with answer file on next step these two folders are physically moved to new location.

If you already have a formatted second HD or partition, you are ready to go.


2.1. Creating an answer file (script) for System Preparation Tool

Audit Mode lets us to start Windows without creating any user accounts. At the moment we are using the built-in administrator account. Your own accounts are created later.

We are going to use System Preparation Tool (sysprep) to run an XML-script (so called Answer file) which modifies the Windows registry and settings as we want to, relocating Users folder to another partition, E: in this example, by changing a so called Windows Environment Variable. You can of course use any internal drive you want to.

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a set of rules for encoding documents in machine readable form.
To make changes to Windows registry, we will now create a script in XML and run it with sysprep.

Open Windows Notepad text editor (press Win + R, type Notepad, hit Enter). Type the following script, or copy it from here and paste to Notepad (please do not forget to read the notes below code lines 4, 6 and 11 regarding said lines):


  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
  2. <unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend">
  3. <settings pass="oobeSystem">
  4. <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm=[noparse]"http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"[/noparse]>
    Note   Note
    (If you are installing Windows x64 (64-bit), value prosessorArchitecture should be amd64​, also on Intel processors. For x86 (32-bit) it should be x86.)

  5. <FolderLocations>
  6. <ProfilesDirectory>e:\Users</ProfilesDirectory>
    Note   Note
    In this example the new location of Users would be E:\Users. Change the drive letter according your needs.

  7. </FolderLocations>
  8. </component>
  9. </settings>
  10. [noparse]<cpi:eek:fflineImage[/noparse] cpi:source="wim:F:/sources/install.wim#Windows 8" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" />
    Note   Note
    (Change the drive letter in wim:F: to that of your CD/DVD drive, USB stick or virtual drive containing your Windows 8 installation media (DVD/ISO). Notice that installation media has to be available to system when running sysprep. Change Windows version accordingly, Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Pro.

  11. </unattend>
(Please leave the row numbers out when typing or copying the above code. Answer file generated with Windows System Image Manager).

If you are installing Windows 8 PRO x64 from CD/DVD/USB F: and relocating Users to E: you don’t have to change anything, you can use the script as it is.

Select Save As from Notepad’s File menu. Select Save as type: All Files. Name the file as you want, add .xml extension to the filename. Save the script to the root of any drive:

SaveAs.png

Alternatively you can download the answer file here: View attachment relocate.rar

2.2. Using System Preparation Tool

Open the Start Menu (Win + X), select Command Prompt (Admin).

First stop the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service (WMPNetworkSvc) by giving the following command:
Code:
net stop WMPNetworkSvc

When the service has stopped, type the following to the command prompt and press
Enter to move to the right folder:
Code:
cd c:\Windows\System32\Sysprep

Win8_RelocateUsers_007.png

Now type the following and press Enter (notice the name and path of the script we created above, change it if needed. I saved answer file on E so the path is E:\relocate.xml):
Code:
Sysprep.exe /audit /reboot /unattend:E:\relocate.xml

Win8_RelocateUsers_008.png

You should now see System Preparation Tool dialog telling it is working on our script:

Win8_RelocateUsers_010.png

Let it run, don’t touch mouse or keyboard now. When System Preparation Tool is ready, Windows must and will reboot. It reboots back to Audit Mode.


2.3. Exiting Audit Mode

To continue Windows installation we have to exit Audit Mode and reboot. After reboot you’ll land back on Metro interface. Click Desktop to enter classic Windows desktop, click OK on System Preparation Tool dialog to boot normally in OOBE i.e. normal mode.

Before clicking OK, check that System Cleanup Action is set to OOBE, and Shutdown Options set to Reboot:

Win8_RelocateUsers_009.png



3. Finalizing installation

Finalize Windows installation.

If you did this from an existing Windows installation, you will notice that for your Windows this is as if it were the first time Windows was booted i.e you are back on OOBE boot, inserting product key and personalizing Windows. It also means that you have to enter so called initial user. In this case Windows does not accept any of the users created earlier, whether local or Microsoft accounts; instead you need to create a new user.

An example from this PC I am using now: I had already created two users and installed software when I decided to do sysprep to relocate Users. I had a local account for me and an Microsoft account using my email address. After finalizing sysprep, I needed to create a third user Test because system does not let me to use either Kari (local account) or Kari (Microsoft account) usernames because those accounts already existed on this PC.

So I created user Test (local), then from Welcome screen logged in as Kari (Microsoft account) and simply deleted the new Test account which I had just created. An extra step, small annoyance but there's nothing to do to avoid it.

When Windows finally boots first time to Start Screen you will see that Users folder is now located on the new drive or partition with all its subfolders.

When you check your system drive [noparse](C:) still [/noparse]contains Users folder. The old, original Users on C: can contain some Windows Store information that may not be moved, so let the old Users folder stay on C:. It will no longer grow, all new user data will be stored on a new location, but it is essential it remains on C:. You can hide it if you want, you are never again going to need it.

Notice that Users folder is not created on or moved to new location when you return to Audit Mode after running sysprep. Relocation will first happen when you exit Audit Mode and boot to OOBE (Welcome) mode to continue installation. If done on an existing system the first OOBE boot after sysprepping can take quite a long time, depending on how big those folders are that sysprep is physically moving to new location.

Remember also that when you create a new user profile the user folders are not created before the new user logs in first time.

That’s it, folks! Welcome to the Windows 8:


Win8_RelocateUsers_016.png

Win8_RelocateUsers_017.png

Now create a system image and you wont have to ever again remember jumplists and links everytime you restore the system to earlier point or system image. User account folders are now permanently moved to another drive, all new user profiles are automatically created on this new location and your system drive won’t be full so soon.

Thanks for reading.

Written and published on 02[SUP]nd[/SUP] of March 2012
Edited and updated on 6[SUP]th[/SUP] of February 2013
Edited, answer file's validity checked on 14[SUP]th[/SUP] of April 2013
Added instructions for Windows 8.1 Pro preview on 29th of June 2013


Kari



 

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Last edited by a moderator:

ds2k5

New Member
Messages
5
Hello Kari,
I've used the following answer file to move the users folder to the D:\ partition.

Code:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> 
<unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend"> 
    <settings pass="oobeSystem"> 
       <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"> 
          <FolderLocations> 
             <ProfilesDirectory>d:\Users</ProfilesDirectory> 
          </FolderLocations> 
       </component> 
    </settings> 
    <cpi:offlineImage cpi:source="wim:G:/sources/install.wim#Windows 8.1 Pro Preview" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" /> 
</unattend>

The installation disc was in the dvd drive (G:) and the image was downloaded directly from Microsoft (Dreamspark). It's the 64 bit version.
 

My Computer

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Kari

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Hello Kari,
I've used the following answer file to move the users folder to the D:\ partition.

Code:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> 
<unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend"> 
    <settings pass="oobeSystem"> 
       <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"> 
          <FolderLocations> 
             <ProfilesDirectory>d:\Users</ProfilesDirectory> 
          </FolderLocations> 
       </component> 
    </settings> 
    <cpi:offlineImage cpi:source="wim:G:/sources/install.wim#Windows 8.1 Pro Preview" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" /> 
</unattend>

The installation disc was in the dvd drive (G:) and the image was downloaded directly from Microsoft (Dreamspark). It's the 64 bit version.
Can't find any errors in your answer file. When in Audit Mode, you have created the drive D: as the new location for the Users folder and secured it's formatted and emtpy, and checked in Disk Management that all drive letters are what they are supposed to be?

To further investigate this, please tell me where did you save the answer file?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    HP ENVY 17-1150eg
    CPU
    1.6 GHz Intel Core i7-720QM Processor
    Memory
    6 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 Graphics
    Sound Card
    Beats sound system with integrated subwoofer
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17" laptop display, 22" LED and 32" Full HD TV through HDMI
    Screen Resolution
    1600*900 (1), 1920*1080 (2&3)
    Hard Drives
    Internal: 2 x 500 GB SATA Hard Disk Drive 7200 rpm
    External: 2TB for backups, 3TB USB3 network drive for media
    Cooling
    As Envy runs a bit warm, I have it on a Cooler Master pad
    Keyboard
    Logitech diNovo Media Desktop Laser (bluetooth)
    Mouse
    Logitech MX1000 Laser (Bluetooth)
    Internet Speed
    50 MB VDSL
    Browser
    Maxthon 3.5.2., IE11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender 4.3.9431.0
    Other Info
    Windows in English, additional user accounts in Finnish, German and Swedish.

ds2k5

New Member
Messages
5
Can't find any errors in your answer file. When in Audit Mode, you have created the drive D: as the new location for the Users folder and secured it's formatted and emtpy, and checked in Disk Management that all drive letters are what they are supposed to be?

To further investigate this, please tell me where did you save the answer file?

I'm actually not sure if I checked the drive letters in audit mode or right before booting to it, might have been in "normal mode". The D: partition I created and formatted during the windows installation process. After the installation I had copied some data to it, but before booting into audit mode, I deleted everything, so it was empty. The answer file was saved as "C:\relocate.xml".

I assume the answer file was processed properly as the Users folder was indeed moved to D:, but I might not have checked if the dvd drive was assigned the same letter in audit mode (it's usb connected, which might make it even more likely). Is it possible that the source files weren't found due to a wrong drive letter, or would the process have been aborted?
 

My Computer

System One

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Kari

Old geek, new tricks
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The fact that the Users folder was moved tells that sysprep has worked.

Please post the following files here for analyze:
  • C:\Windows\Panther\setupact.log
  • C:\Windows\Panther\setuperr.log
  • C:\Windows\Panther\unattend.xml
Use the [noparse]
Code:
Your code here
[/noparse] to post said files, each file within its own CODE tags.

Kari
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    HP ENVY 17-1150eg
    CPU
    1.6 GHz Intel Core i7-720QM Processor
    Memory
    6 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 Graphics
    Sound Card
    Beats sound system with integrated subwoofer
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17" laptop display, 22" LED and 32" Full HD TV through HDMI
    Screen Resolution
    1600*900 (1), 1920*1080 (2&3)
    Hard Drives
    Internal: 2 x 500 GB SATA Hard Disk Drive 7200 rpm
    External: 2TB for backups, 3TB USB3 network drive for media
    Cooling
    As Envy runs a bit warm, I have it on a Cooler Master pad
    Keyboard
    Logitech diNovo Media Desktop Laser (bluetooth)
    Mouse
    Logitech MX1000 Laser (Bluetooth)
    Internet Speed
    50 MB VDSL
    Browser
    Maxthon 3.5.2., IE11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender 4.3.9431.0
    Other Info
    Windows in English, additional user accounts in Finnish, German and Swedish.

ds2k5

New Member
Messages
5
According to the timestamps the files in "Panther" contain only information about the original installation, however there was a folder called "UnattendGC" (inside Panther), which contained "setupact.log" and "setuperr.log" as well. The setuperr.log files in both folders were empty, but the setupact.log in "UnattendGC" also contains logs timestamped "2013-07-18" (the day I moved the users folder), whereas the copy in the "Panther" contains only timestamps of the 17th (when I reinstalled the system). I've attached both setupact.log files (setupact2.log is the on from the UnattendGC subfolder) and the unattend.xml. I added the .txt extension so I could upload them; apparently they are too large to post as
Code:
.

One thing I realized while skimming through the files is that I've screwed up during the reinstall. After the first failed attempt I also realized I had installed the system in Legacy (Bios) mode using MBR partitioning instead of UEFI mode with GPT, so I disabled legacy support in the bios and changed my SSD to GPT. Unfortunately I haven't changed my HDD (where D: is located) to GPT, so it still uses MBR partitions. However, since I had the same problems the first time, when all partitions where MBR (thus at least consistent), I still don't think that to be the source of the trouble.

EDIT: Is it just me, or do the attachments not appear in the post?!
 

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My Computer

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Kari

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No, it's not just you. Can't see your attachments.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    HP ENVY 17-1150eg
    CPU
    1.6 GHz Intel Core i7-720QM Processor
    Memory
    6 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 Graphics
    Sound Card
    Beats sound system with integrated subwoofer
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17" laptop display, 22" LED and 32" Full HD TV through HDMI
    Screen Resolution
    1600*900 (1), 1920*1080 (2&3)
    Hard Drives
    Internal: 2 x 500 GB SATA Hard Disk Drive 7200 rpm
    External: 2TB for backups, 3TB USB3 network drive for media
    Cooling
    As Envy runs a bit warm, I have it on a Cooler Master pad
    Keyboard
    Logitech diNovo Media Desktop Laser (bluetooth)
    Mouse
    Logitech MX1000 Laser (Bluetooth)
    Internet Speed
    50 MB VDSL
    Browser
    Maxthon 3.5.2., IE11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender 4.3.9431.0
    Other Info
    Windows in English, additional user accounts in Finnish, German and Swedish.

mdmarti6

New Member
Messages
2
I went ahead and tried it myself last night and it worked but I have now been encountering some minor issues and an annoying HomeGroup issue that appears to be quite common. When I had to go through the OOBE settings I created a new local user to be my Administrator level account and signed into it. At this point, for no good reason other than I was sleepy and not thinking straight, I deleted my previous (Microsoft) user account. After I did this, there was still a User folder with AppData(I think?) so I deleted it manually (select, delete). I restarted and recreated the Microsoft account. So the last, very minor issue is that under D/Users/<UserID> my UserID is not "Martin" as it was before, but mdmart_000. I don't really care as long as it doesn't cause any issues but any idea what happened here or whether I can change it?

The second issue is that I can't join or create a HomeGroup. When I tried to join an existing HomeGroup I received an error that said this computer can't join homegroups. So I quit the existing Homegroup on my W7 laptop and tried to create one from the new W8 installation. I get a message that says the computer found an existing homegroup and to join it from the Control Panel. But that doesn't work because I end up in the same place.

So I ran the HomeGroup troubleshooter and I get a response that the Peer Name Resolution Protocol service is not running. When I try to start manually, I get: "Windows could not start the Peer Name Resolution Protocol service on Local Computer. Error 0x80630203: Unable to access a key." And that's where I'm currently at.

I don't know if this is at all related to the sysprep script but homegroup worked prior to it and hasn't worked after it. Any ideas?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    windows 8 pro w/MC

Ragnarok

New Member
Messages
1
Hello everyone!

I'm successfully transfer my User Profile to disk E: according the instruction above, but came across with couple of weird issues after this.
First, Metro applications are not working anymore. They start and hang.
Second, built in Internet Explorer refuse to resolve file associations, e.g. I can't save torrent link because it is not recognized as torrent file and described as download.php=id.345? and so on.
I think the reason is broken paths of folders inside User directory but have no idea how to fix it. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8
    Computer type
    Laptop

Tirrik

New Member
Messages
1
I followed the instructions and my User folder has been moved, but now all my programs seem to be able to load there settings from the new folder location, but not write new settings to the new user folder location, so any time I change a playlist in Foobar it cannot save those changes when I exit, Open Broadcast Software cannot remember any new scenes I add to it (which as someone who streams games every day is really frustrating), no one can connect to my locally hosted Team Speak 3 server including the PC I am hosting it on using local host as the address when I try to connect.

All in all yes I have moved the User folder, but that seems to have either stopped my programs working at all or frozen all their settings to what they were when I moved it!
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8

allonsy

New Member
Messages
1
I followed your procedure and everything went smoothly...thanks for an accurate, well documented process!!!!
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7, Windows 8, Linux, Android

Agnar

New Member
Messages
1
hey just wanted to say thanks this is a great thread followed your instructions all the way and it worked perfectly. thank you
regards
Agnar Einarsson
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    windows 8

Yuriy

New Member
Messages
1
Hi Kari, thanks for the great post.
With the <ProfilesDirectory>e:\Users</ProfilesDirectory> tag one can specify the location of the entire users directory. I would also like to rename Documents to docs, Downloads to downloads and so on automatically for each and every user account to be created in the future. Does the relocate.xml script handle such cases?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8 Pro

Jared575

New Member
Messages
2
Location
Victoria
Hey Kari,

Thanks so much for this SUPER helpful. It worked flawlessly once I stopped and actually read all the instructions. However,
While the user files moved and Windows and the Metro apps all seem to not mind having the user files now on my D: drive's raid array the only thing that's stopped me cold is trying to upgrade to the 8.1 preview. I noticed separate instructions for 8.1 with the only real change being .\Sysprep.exe in preview vs Sysprep.exe.
When I installed 8 pro it worked across metro but when I go to "upgrade" to 8.1 it says my system is not compatible. I'm 99% sure its the moved user profile as I upgraded to 8.1 previously. I've now reinstalled windows to 8.1 using the disc fresh install method and was able to maintain the user profile setup. Do you think I'll have to do that again when 8.1 final comes out October 18th?
Maybe I missed something?
THANKS! :D
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8 Pro 64 bit
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Self
    CPU
    Intel i7-4770
    Motherboard
    Asus Z87-A
    Memory
    Crucial DDR3-1600 4x4GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Radeon HD 5770
    Browser
    IE
    Antivirus
    Windows

Richman1

Banned
Messages
5
Rainer, first I want to repeat what I said on that quoted thread on Seven Forums:
Due to it's complexity and numerous ways it can go wrong I have not included this procedure in my tutorial, and I will not in any circumstances offer support or advice on this subject. Call me chicken if you want to ;) but I do not want to spend my evenings answering all those "Oh s*** it totally messed my Windows!" posts.
My reasoning as a list:
  • Microsoft has reasons not to recommend moving Windows and / or Program Files away from system drive. So much depends on these folders working flawless it is a risk not worth taking
  • Too much can go wrong. When it does go wrong it is normally serious enough to be beyond any other repair method than complete reinstall
  • The total HDD space Program Files and Program Files (x86) folders are taking is so little there is no reason to move them, at least in the sense of getting more space
I strongly recommend you not to move Program Files. If you decide to do it on Windows 8, be prepared to reinstall several times. Although it is doable and I have done it a few times on a test rig the resulting Windows 8 setup is so unstable and error-prone I have decided to give up and forget this.

I am totally completely absolutely refusing to assist in this. It's a liability issue: If (and when) something goes wrong, I am on the safe side when I know I have warned against.

Kari

I would have to agree with Kari. It does not make any sense to relocate Program Files or Program Files (x86). Would like to point out that, even though I don't know the differences in the implementation of Program Files between XP and Windows 7 and Windows 8 and maybe in this aspect not much if anything, in XP you could always set up a second Program Files directory on another physical drive (as I did) and install dozens of 3rd party program apps in that directory (as I did) without noticing any problem (which has been my experience) if space is an issue. I am assuming it may be no different in Windows 7 and 8. But there are some applications, MS Office being one of them and a few 3rd party apps that will need to install at least Some of the app files in the Windows default directory. So you can not just move these folders. I personally don't think anyone should ever attemt to move them when it is possible to set up a second directory. I remember installing MS Office 2003 on Windows XP and telling the installer to install to my secondary Program File directory I set up on D: on another physical drive. The MS installer installed some files to MS Office 2003 there but installed at least half of them in the default C:\Program File. This never seamed to be a problem with using MS Office but then I was not a really heavy technical user only setting up typical small DB's in Access and basic spread sheet in Excel, most advanced thing maybe having data span several data sheets. It seams that MS Office always knew where the files were located that it needed no matter which of the two directories they were in but things being more complex in Windows 7 and 8 and also more complex with MS Office 2007, 2010, and 2013 may not present as smooth of a result today. I have never actually tried installing any of the newer MS Office suites t a newer Windows in a secondary directory I created as HDD are much cheaper now as when I had XP on a 13GB and had to get a 120GB for $80 to install any more applications or user files. I would presume that having MS Office files split up in two different directories on a newer version of Windows may not work as smoothly these days.

Hi Kari,

Nice tutorial here. I especially like that it shows the supported way :) I hope you don't mind a few observations.

1. You've got a good warning about ProgramData, but it doesn't mention that it messes up servicing, so it may cause issues with updates and service packs.

2. Despite the warning text, the rest of the tutorial keeps mentioning ProgramData throughout except for the answer file. That's why people keep doing it :) If you drop the reference, that will probably stop.

3. Copying the unattend file is kind of awkward because of the notes. You can make two examples (one per arch) and use
<!-- comments --> for the rest. That will reduce error rate.

Finally, there's a shortcut that entirely eliminates the whole audit mode with sysprep thing and speeds things up :) In short:
1. Save the Unattend.xml file on the drive to which you want to move profiles.
2. Start install, format the system drive to be.
3. Open cmd (Shift+10), type notepad.
4. Open the Unattend.xml in Notepad. While doing this, take a note of the drive letter, then use in the path to the profile dir.
5. Save the file to the system drive root and proceed with the install.

Here's the video of the installation process. The actual move takes around 35 seconds ;)

[video=youtube_share;WI3LNdvfe6k]http://youtu.be/WI3LNdvfe6k[/video]

That's it :)
Vadim

Vadim, You mentioned in a subsequent post that this video was in English but it didn't apear to be in English to me.

Hey Kari,

Thanks so much for this SUPER helpful. It worked flawlessly once I stopped and actually read all the instructions. However,
While the user files moved and Windows and the Metro apps all seem to not mind having the user files now on my D: drive's raid array the only thing that's stopped me cold is trying to upgrade to the 8.1 preview. I noticed separate instructions for 8.1 with the only real change being .\Sysprep.exe in preview vs Sysprep.exe.
When I installed 8 pro it worked across metro but when I go to "upgrade" to 8.1 it says my system is not compatible. I'm 99% sure its the moved user profile as I upgraded to 8.1 previously. I've now reinstalled windows to 8.1 using the disc fresh install method and was able to maintain the user profile setup. Do you think I'll have to do that again when 8.1 final comes out October 18th?
Maybe I missed something?
THANKS! :D
Appears maybe Kari is MIA at the moment
Jared575, I remember that (I can't remember if it was Kari or someone else that mentioned a file that can be edited and also the process of doing so somewhere in the last 10 pages of this forum thread. I cold look for it as I may need to refer to it later but figure you could look just as easily as I am running short on time.
 
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Richman1

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I am unclear, or maybe I am not unclear as to the benefit of this method over using the 'Move' button and/or libraries or links other than when setting up new users it always goes to the new directory. I see this as a benefit for sure. I read where Kari mentioned, "...it is a more secure method and I always prefer it". But the reason I ask is that I am building a new system for my stepmother and I think moving the user files and/or linking libraries would be better choice for her situation since she would never be creating other user accounts. Would anyone agree? This may be a question for another thread but, she will have a windows 7 and 8 partition I want to deliver this machine to her and don't want to spend any more hours breaking something and re-installing and such. Also, could moving the user files and/or using libraries or some kind of link work to use one set of user files for bot OS's or is this method better for certain reasons.


That brings me to another question regarding building a new dual boot for myself. Can this method Kari's method with the answer file) be used with a dual boot situation to use one set of user files for two different OS's. I noticed one user state that there was some sort of problem using this method when there was already a set of user account files in the directory which there would be after using this method on Windows 7 and then trying to use it on Windows 8. I can't remember if this person posting this mentioned a fix or not without rereading everything. Would this method only be able to be used on one OS like Windows 8 and would I have to use another method like links and/or registry hacks to get the other OS, Windows 7 to link to the same user files. Along thes same lines I have read some forum posts where using the same user files for two OS's like Windows 7 and Windows 8 has not presented any issues but then a few other posters (in I think some other forum) posted that this has made scan disk run when restarting and booting into the other OS.
 

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Jared575

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Hey Kari,

Thanks so much for this SUPER helpful. It worked flawlessly once I stopped and actually read all the instructions. However,
While the user files moved and Windows and the Metro apps all seem to not mind having the user files now on my D: drive's raid array the only thing that's stopped me cold is trying to upgrade to the 8.1 preview. I noticed separate instructions for 8.1 with the only real change being .\Sysprep.exe in preview vs Sysprep.exe.
When I installed 8 pro it worked across metro but when I go to "upgrade" to 8.1 it says my system is not compatible. I'm 99% sure its the moved user profile as I upgraded to 8.1 previously. I've now reinstalled windows to 8.1 using the disc fresh install method and was able to maintain the user profile setup. Do you think I'll have to do that again when 8.1 final comes out October 18th?
Maybe I missed something?
THANKS! :D
Appears maybe Kari is MIA at the moment
Jared575, I remember that (I can't remember if it was KAri or someone else that mentioned a file that can be edited and the process of doing so somewhere in the last 10 pages of this forum thread. I cold look for it as I may need to refer to it later but figure you could look just as easily as I am running short on time.[/QUOTE]



I was doing searches for program data stuff and i realised that %appdata% is stored in the user directory. It looks like a i need a way to move the user profile but leave behind the appdata where it is.. It seems like metro apps dont have a problem following the app data to the new location but the system updates are a bit more rigid and so they cant see the app data when updating to 8.1... is this possible? for example write out the script so you can tell it to move to d:\ *except* app data?
 

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duxuforest

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Hello again! I´ve successfully followed this tutorial, and everything has been working smoothly.
Now though, i´ve had some problems with .net and i am therefore considering to attempt a "system refresh" from the windows CD.

My question is if it´s a good idea to do the "system refresh", or if it will cause problems with my account.
 

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Brink

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Hello Duxuforest,

I would recommend moving the user profiles back to the default location on C: before refreshing Windows 8 to prevent them from possibly no longer working afterwards.
 

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Richman1

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Hey Kari,

Thanks so much for this SUPER helpful. It worked flawlessly once I stopped and actually read all the instructions. However,
While the user files moved and Windows and the Metro apps all seem to not mind having the user files now on my D: drive's raid array the only thing that's stopped me cold is trying to upgrade to the 8.1 preview. I noticed separate instructions for 8.1 with the only real change being .\Sysprep.exe in preview vs Sysprep.exe.
When I installed 8 pro it worked across metro but when I go to "upgrade" to 8.1 it says my system is not compatible. I'm 99% sure its the moved user profile as I upgraded to 8.1 previously. I've now reinstalled windows to 8.1 using the disc fresh install method and was able to maintain the user profile setup. Do you think I'll have to do that again when 8.1 final comes out October 18th?
Maybe I missed something?
THANKS! :D
Appears maybe Kari is MIA at the moment
Jared575, I remember that (I can't remember if it was Kari or someone else that mentioned a file that can be edited and also the process of doing so somewhere in the last 10 pages of this forum thread. I cold look for it as I may need to refer to it later but figure you could look just as easily as I am running short on time.



I was doing searches for program data stuff and i realised that %appdata% is stored in the user directory. It looks like a i need a way to move the user profile but leave behind the appdata where it is.. It seems like metro apps dont have a problem following the app data to the new location but the system updates are a bit more rigid and so they cant see the app data when updating to 8.1... is this possible? for example write out the script so you can tell it to move to d:\ *except* app data?

Jared575,
Looks like you deleted a beginning QUOTE and it made it look like you said the exact same thing as me. You may want to edit that back in. Oh look, it did the same thing to me. Only because I quoted you and it was just a direct copy with the omitted Quote tag in your post which nobody will see here since I edited it. If you care to fix your post Jared575, Just put "QUOTE=Richman1;270697" replacing the "QUOTE MARKS" WITH [BRACKETS] and just place it at the top in front of the quote tags with your name in it.

As for appdata, I haven't tried this tutorial yet but I thought that Kari had deleted the reference to ........ oh wait a minute I maybe I brain farted, I think it was ProgramData. Oops. Appdata folder huh, I think that is s new one nobody has mentioned here yet. Are you sure or is this a hunch? I am just curious why nobody mentioned it here before and didn't come across the same problems and findings. Unless someone did mention it and I confused AppData with ProgramData again of course they sound like they should be the same thing even though they are not and are different file folders.
 
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