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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Volturnus

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Hello Kari!

I followed this tutorial a while ago, when I installed windows 8 and again when I upgraded to 8.1

Meanwhile I upgraded my SSD, and its more than big enough to not be requiring this method anymore.

I was wondering wether we can expect problems upgrading (or after upgrading) to windows 10, or will windows simply reverse the changes automatically, and move it all back from (currently D:) the second drive, to its main drive?

Many thanks!

Volturnus
 

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Cheech

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Hello Kari:

Thank you for posting this process however, I do have a question or two.

I recently purchase a custom built computer and the vendor will provide 5 years of technical support. This PC has an SSD drive and a 1Tbyte regular drive. Windows 8.1 was installed solely on the SSD drive and I asked the vendor's tech support people to either to do a fresh install of 8.1 following the defined process or alternately to follow the process for moving the User et al folders that you also described. They refused, stating this would create an non-standard installation and thereby they would not support it (or would even do it).

My question is, "is their position justifiable?". Is there any reason that making such a change would cause problems if either process was followed and create a situation that could not be supported. I guess what I am asking here is that if I went to Microsoft to get support and they were able to recognize this particular configuration of Windows, would they support it or give me the same answer?

Thank you for all you do.

Frank

Update 1.

After reading through about 20 some odd pages of this thread I am realizing how far over my head I am. Fortunately my system is comparatively simple as it is new (no data files exist at this time) and whatever programs I have installed can easily be removed and re-installed. However, for the question I posted I need to qualify it, following @Kari's explicit warnings and recommendation, the only folder to be relocated off the SSD are the Profile folders (\Users and its subfolders, et al).

[DEL]Now that I understand a bit more of this process the next question I have is; is it possible to change the default drive letter ("C:" in my case) that is used when installing software (C:\Program Files ...(x86)) to my non-SSD drive letter assuming that I have created the same folders on it? I realize that I can Browse to them manually but it would make it more "idiot proof".[/DEL]

Update 2

I struck out the above question because after reading the entire thread it appears to me that my question was really just another way of attempting to relocate the program files folders which is a no-no, even though I would not have really moved the program files folders.

After reading the entire thread I get the impression that MS would not categorize this configuration as being non-supported and in fact it was developed by MS for some earlier release and has since been "cloned/enhanced" to support other Windows versions by @Kari. I now suspect that my vendor's tech support people are not comfortable making these changes and have taken the simple way out.

I would like to get a more positive confirmation that MS does not have a problem with this process and change thereby allowing me to go back and challenge their tech support people. Wile I now believe I can follow Kari's well described instructions I really want their people to do it so that I do not void my 5 year tech support.
 
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Kari

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My Computer

System One

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    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
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    Kari The Finn
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    HP ENVY 17-1150eg
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    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
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    As Envy runs a bit warm, I have it on a Cooler Master pad
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Cheech

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Thank you Kari, I did read it and I am convinced that MS would not have a problem supporting a system (if asked, which I shutter at ever thinking I need to do) that was customized using this method. Clearly this is a customization using tools and the process provided by MS that will not effect the operations of Windows.

Now to convince my vendor so that he will do it or if not, allow me to do it while still honoring his support agreement.

Please allow me some other questions.

1. In one of the posts (may need to find it again) someone had applied a registry fix which it appeared that you "blessed". I don't recall the exact circumstances of the registry change but would like to know is it something that I should do as part of the process?

2. After reading through this entire thread I acknowledge that you have spent an inordinate amount of time (and commend you for doing so) debugging what turns out to have been user problems caused by either/and, 1. not following the process/instructions, 2. doing something that you have specifically advised against or clearly stated that it would not work, must not do, ..., or 3. there were errors in the answer file (syntax, location, ...).

In the event that I am informed by my vendor that he will continue to provide support for my system as long as I do the work and demonstrate that my system still functions after the fact, I would like to avoid making a mistake(s) that necessitate my requesting your assistance. Given that I am only slightly younger than Methuselah and somewhat prone to making errors I would like to ask your permission to submit to you for review/verification, 1. my current configuration, 2, what I want to do, 3. how I will go about doing it, and last but not least, 4. the necessary answer file, and do so before I undertake this process.

My hope is should you agree to do such review it will allow for an early detection of potential problems thereby avoiding harder to fix problems that require my time to fix or do rework and more importantly, yours to do whatever trouble shooting necessary to find the problem. There is nothing more than I would like but to be able to report back to you that "Everything worked perfectly, thank you".
 

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Kari

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In the event that I am informed by my vendor that he will continue to provide support for my system as long as I do the work and demonstrate that my system still functions after the fact, I would like to avoid making a mistake(s) that necessitate my requesting your assistance. Given that I am only slightly younger than Methuselah and somewhat prone to making errors I would like to ask your permission to submit to you for review/verification, 1. my current configuration, 2, what I want to do, 3. how I will go about doing it, and last but not least, 4. the necessary answer file, and do so before I undertake this process.

My hope is should you agree to do such review it will allow for an early detection of potential problems thereby avoiding harder to fix problems that require my time to fix or do rework and more importantly, yours to do whatever trouble shooting necessary to find the problem. There is nothing more than I would like but to be able to report back to you that "Everything worked perfectly, thank you".
I am not too young myself and feeling even older due too many ex-wives although they all claim it to be due passionate love for single malt and cigars in addition to general laziness :)

I like the systematic approach of yours. I am happy if I can assist in any way. Just post your requests and answer files etc. here, I will do my best to tell you what I think of them.

Although written to Windows 7, you might be interested in these threads on our sister site the Seven Forums as they apply to Windows 8, too:
 

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Cheech

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I am not too young myself and feeling even older due too many ex-wives although they all claim it to be due passionate love for single malt and cigars in addition to general laziness

Been there, done that.


I like the systematic approach of yours.

After over 40 years in IT (on hardware that has now been designated as "dinosaurs" and software that is obsolete, archaic, crude, ...) I have learned something, albeit now mostly out of self-preservation as the years went by. It seems that most of what I could keep in my head and be confident on what I was doing , has now disappeared and uncertainty has crept in (that's an understatement, it is now upright and running).

So much for my blather.



Concerning the status with my vendor, thanks to the information you and others have provided in this thread I have disarmed their approach to solving this by the more simple but not permanent process of renaming and relocating provided under the folder's properties function. I have also sent the link to this site and the process is now being reviewed by their tech manager and should have their answer by Monday. Here's hoping.

Now for a technical question that might be a bit off-topic but still related. Please keep in mind that I have zero experience with Win 8 as my other systems are Win 7 and XP ( even as a kid I liked dinosaurs) and things are different although not necessarily better.

When I received my latest PC there was one local id (no pwd) on it. Rather than create a new one, and not thinking about the future need to move the User profiles off of my SSD, I chose to rename the one that was there. That seems to be mostly ok however, doing it in that manner did not rename the subfolder under the Users Folder (still on my C: drive) and no subfolder with the new name was created under the Users folder.

Right clicking on that folder to bring up the context menu shows that there is no rename option, so at this point it appears there is a disconnect between the renamed Userid and the Users folder associated with it. This may or may not cause a problem with moving the profiles off the SSD, but regardless I would like to have it resolved.

Might you have a suggestion(s) on how the best way to go about this would be appreciated?
 
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Kari

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Might you have a suggestion(s) on how the best way to go about this would be appreciated?

When a new user account is created in Windows, it's user profile folder is created in the main profile folder Users, by default located on root of the C: drive. For system integrity and functionality this folder name will remain named as it was at the moment of its creation and the name of it will not be changed even when the username assigned to that account is changed. This applies both to the initial user account created when Windows is installed and all subsequently created future user accounts.

An example: If I install Windows on a new PC and initially create my user account naming it Kari, that's my Windows username and the name of my user profile folder. If I later on change my Windows username to AnAngryOldMan, my username will from that moment on be AnAngryOldMan but my data will still be stored in my user profile folder Kari. Again, some time later I decide to change my username to LazyGeek, my user profile remains located in Users\Kari.

Basically this means that if you are not satisfied with the name of your user profile folder, the best thing to do is to create a new user account with admin rights, sign in to your old user account and copy your personal data from its user profile folder to an external location, sign out from the old account, sign in to new account, restore the personal data from the external backup to corresponding folders under the new user profile folder, and finally remove the old user account.

The extra step in above method, to copy the data from old user to an external location and from there to the new user solves permission issues occurring occasionally when the data is copied directly from the old user profile to new user profile.

Another method is told in this tutorial at the Seven Forums: User Profile Folder - Change User Account Folder Name - Windows 7 Help Forums

Kari
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Name
    Kari The Finn
    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
    Occupation
    Back from retirement, IT consultant
    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.
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    de saxony

Cheech

New Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2015
Messages
18
Thanks Kari.

From the sounds of it I do not need to be concerned about fixing this before running the process to the move the profile folders off the SSD, and should I be anal enough to want to make things "pretty" I can do it afterwards.
 

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Kari

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Yes, exactly. If it's not disturbing you too much to have username A and your data in user profile folder B, there's no rush.
 

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Cheech

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Nothing I'll lose sleep over.
 

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Cheech

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Hi Kari:

Well, after all this time the vendor's tech support finally got back to me and they will not do the process. However, if I do it they will still honor my 5 year support agreement, which is what I was most concerned about. So I will undertake it myself following your instructions. With that I've documented my configuration, the process I intend to do, and the modified XML file for your review.

Configuration

1. 6-way Intel processors
2. SSD 232GB - C; drive
3. HD 1 TB (formatted) -D: drive
4. DVD RD E: drive
5. Windows 8.1 Pro with update. Installed clean. I have the media and license key.

Process
0. Backup existing system
1. Start from step 1.2. getting to the Command prompt is different but accessible
a. enter command to start Sysprep tool as shown, system is rebooted to Audit mode
2. after system reboots (in Metro mode, whatever that is) click the "Desktop" icon which b rings
up a window that allows me to closet (cancel) the Sysprep tool
3. do Step 2.1 , update .xml file (completed)
4. Save updated .xml file on root of D: drive (with an .xml extension)
5. Do step 2.2.1 (or 2.2.2)
a. insert windows 8.1 distribution DVD or media (might want to include this step in your write up for existing installation)
b. go to command prompt
c. stop media player
d. CD to Sysprep folder
e. start the sysprep program pointing to the .xml file stored on the D: drive
6. Step 2.2.3, Sysprep working message will appear, and when complete will reboot in Audit mode
7. Step 2.3, exit audit mode and reboot. Check setting for (OOBE) and Reboot in Sysprep tool window. Click OK.
8. Step 3; insert Product Key, create new user id (temporary) After Windows starts up check new location for profile
folders and delete temporary user id

Modified .XML file

<?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:eek:fflineImage cpi:source="wim:E:/sources/install.wim#windows 8.1 Pro" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" />
</unattend>


Also, if I recall correctly someplace in this thread someone had made an additional modification to the registry which you thought was a good idea. Should I do that too, and if so might you know the post number where it can be found?

Please let me know if any changes are required. Thanks again for your assistance.

Cheech
 

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Kari

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...
5. Do step 2.2.1 (or 2.2.2)
...
Steps 2.2.2 and 2.2.3 were accidentally left in the tutorial and now removed. They were for those members installing Windows 8 Preview which is no longer available

...
a. insert windows 8.1 distribution DVD or media (might want to include this step in your write up for existing installation)
...
About the need to tell that the Windows installation media must be present, it might be the fact that English is not my native language but I have difficulties to find any better way to tell it than the way I have already done it. Be it that you do this on a new clean install (1.1) or an existing Windows installation (1.2), the note I have already in the tutorial in step 2.1 (which you have to follow whichever method (1.1 or 1.2) you are using) is the best I can do:
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.


Also, if I recall correctly someplace in this thread someone had made an additional modification to the registry which you thought was a good idea. Should I do that too, and if so might you know the post number where it can be found?
I do not recall nor do I know any such registry modifications needed, used or being recommended together with this process.

And now it's time to reveal a secret and tell a short story ;):

You can change the switch /audit in the Sysprep command to switch /oobe which makes Windows to go straight to OOBE boot after the sysprep instead of returning to Audit Mode. There's no need to return to Audit Mode after the Sysprep.

There's a reason for why that extra unnecessary but harmless step was included in these instructions. When this tutorial was made, I already had a similar for Windows 7 written a few years earlier. As it happens that tutorial was copied almost immediately to another tech site which claimed it being written by someone there although they were stupid enough to use my screenshots, too, so it was easy to prove.

Just to be mean and able to point out if someone had copied my tutorial text and pasted it as their own in the future, I started to add one unnecessary step and a few typos in my tutorials. That worked: I was later on able to prove in one case that a tutorial on another site was a copy & paste from my tutorial because it had the exactly same unnecessary step and the same typos.

I do not apologize this because the additional step is totally harmless and the typos I've made on purpose in my tutorials are never in command or script examples.

Kari
 
Last edited:

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Name
    Kari The Finn
    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
    Occupation
    Back from retirement, IT consultant
    Cooling
    As Envy runs a bit warm, I have it on a Cooler Master pad
    Keyboard
    Logitech diNovo Media Desktop Laser (bluetooth)
    Mouse
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    Internet Speed
    50 MB VDSL
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Cheech

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it might be the fact that English is not my native language

Nothing wrong with your English Kari, my attempts at a second language should be half as good, in fact maybe my English should be as good. I put that in there because I recalled reading somewhere that the distribution media was needed even when the process was performed on an installed version of Windows. I hadn't yet studied the XML file and your comments which clearly defined where it was needed. I forgot to remove the comment before pasting the text which I was building (in Word) as I was going along.

do not recall nor do I know any such registry modifications needed, used or being recommended together with this process.

I did find where there were some registry changes discussed but it appears that it was for a unique problem a member was having and a registry modification was necessary.

that tutorial was copied almost immediately to another tech site which claimed it being written by someone there

I'm sorry to hear that others have posted your work on other sites and taking the credit for the work that you have done. I guess some people have a problem giving credit where credit is due. Glad you caught them.

One other question if you will. I have a couple of programs installed already and am wondering if it best that they be uninstalled first? The reason I ask is while browsing through the thread I noticed that a member had a problem uninstalling a particular software product (AutoCad??) and had to put the user profile folders back on the C: drive to get the uninstall to work. I don't know if it was just this software or is a more general problem? One program I am using uninstalls previous versions and installs as if it were a first time install every time there is a maintenance release. Some components are installed under the users folders.

I presume the above problem occurs because there are registry entries that point to the original drive. Assuming I am correct, does the sysprep process resolve whatever registry entries that are effected by moving the user folders off of the C: drive?

Thank you,

Cheech
 

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    (2) GT 610
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    NVIDIA
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Kari

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I presume the above problem occurs because there are registry entries that point to the original drive. Assuming I am correct, does the sysprep process resolve whatever registry entries that are effected by moving the user folders off of the C: drive?
I can only answer that based on my own experience and tell I have never had any install or uninstall issues on a sysprepped system.

This sysprep process changes the the values of all user profile related Windows environment variables. When done you can test these variables, type the following example variables in File Explorer address bar or the Run dialog (Win + R), hit Enter and see where they bring you (let's assume you relocated Users to D: drive):
  • Type %userprofile% + Enter
    • You will be taken to D:\Users\Your_UserProfile_Folder
  • Type %appdata% + Enter
    • You will be taken to D:\Users\Your_UserProfile_Folder\AppData\Roaming
  • Type %localappdata% + Enter
    • You will be taken to D:\Users\Your_UserProfile_Folder\AppData\Local
  • Type %temp% + Enter
    • You will be taken to D:\Users\Your_UserProfile_Folder\AppData\Local\Temp
A correctly coded application installer does not use absolute paths, it uses environment variables instead. It installs the program itself in %programfiles%, not in C:\Program Files, its DLL and other system files in %windir% instead of C:\Windows, application data for all users in %programdata% and your personal application data in %appdata% and / or %localappdata%.

Again when this application is uninstalled it checks the locations of its various elements using these variables, not absolute paths.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Name
    Kari The Finn
    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
    Occupation
    Back from retirement, IT consultant
    Cooling
    As Envy runs a bit warm, I have it on a Cooler Master pad
    Keyboard
    Logitech diNovo Media Desktop Laser (bluetooth)
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    Internet Speed
    50 MB VDSL
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Cheech

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Hi Kari:

Thought I would take the opportunity to give you an update. The entire process worked flawlessly, with the exception of one very minor exception which was easily resolved. I thought I should give you the feedback in the event that what I experienced was common enough for you to update the process documentation.

What I am referring to is the command for starting the sysprep program. The documentation has the command with an uppercase "S". That did not work on my system (8.1 Professional) but when replaced with a lower case, as the program is shown in the directory, it worked fine. I'm reasonably sure that was the only correction as I did a command line edit and that was all that I changed. I didn't think these commands were case sensitive as I don't use them too often, but apparently they are (at least now).

Thank you for providing a very well documented procedure, you save me a lot of grief.

On another but similar topic. As this is a new system for me, and I have had one in a number of years (with an SSD which I haven;t had before). I would like to start off reevaluating one of the things that I done in the past. Generally when I've installed software I let it default to the standard Program Files folder but occasionally place it on the root drive. If I continue the practice of letting it default this software will be placed on the SSD drive using what might become precious space. I could install software under the root of the D: drive or under an "Installed Programs" folder under the root of the D: drive.

My thoughts right now are to install frequently used software on the SSSD and less used software on the D: drive. Are you aware of any other considerations that I should factor into my decision as to where software should best be installed?

Thank you,

Cheech
 

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Kari

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Commands are not case sensitive, in your case there has to be another reason why the command did first not work. You can type the sysprep command as SYSPREP, SysPrep, sysprep, SySpReP or using any other case combination and it's still understood by the system.

Do not install software on root of any drive. If you want to you can create a Programs folder on D: and when installing software, select Custom or Advanced install options depending on software and install everything under the D:\Programs (or whatever you have named the install folder).

Personally, however, I see no reason to do that. You would need an enormous amount of software installed before the space on C: is used, especially when you have relocated the Users folder. My PC as an example: I have installed all the software I need, a lot of video making tools and editors, programming tools, full Office 2016 Pro Plus suite and so on, all on C: drive. Yet the software takes only 32.8 GB:

2015-09-05_13h48_34.png
 
Last edited:

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Name
    Kari The Finn
    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
    Occupation
    Back from retirement, IT consultant
    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
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    Windows in English, additional user accounts in Finnish, German and Swedish.
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MatiasPi

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Hi, new here. Is there any way to reverse this? Ever since I did this, the OS is malfunctioning left and right. I can't open any apps, can't change the default browser. I can't open a lot of programs (The error "Class not registered" is shown), and I have to open other programs as Admin to use them. I can't even access some of Windows 8 settings. It's all working like rubbish. Please, I don't want to format.

Thanks.
 

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Kari

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Hello Matias, welcome to the Eight Forums.

I am sorry about your issues, although I have to say that this process when done correctly does not cause any functionality issues. That being said, the process is easy to revert. Follow the instructions in tutorial starting from the step 1.2, this time when making the answer file change the <ProfilesDirectory> in the answer file to C:\Users (step 2.1).

However, as I suspect that your issues are caused by something else, it might be that you have exactly the same issues even after reverting the process.

Kari
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Name
    Kari The Finn
    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
    Occupation
    Back from retirement, IT consultant
    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.
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Medamo

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Sep 15, 2015
Messages
1
Kari,
I've used your instructions for years. I referred to them again today to prepare a new system for a Windows 10 Pro install via my original 8.1 home disk and Pro Upgrade key. Thank you for making this task so much easier. And yes, I did confirm that the Windows 10 upgrade honored the User files configurations set up with your instructions on 8.1. Thanks again...
 

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Kari

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Kari,
I've used your instructions for years. I referred to them again today to prepare a new system for a Windows 10 Pro install via my original 8.1 home disk and Pro Upgrade key. Thank you for making this task so much easier. And yes, I did confirm that the Windows 10 upgrade honored the User files configurations set up with your instructions on 8.1. Thanks again...
Hi Medamo, welcome to the Eight Forums.

Always nice to get positive feedback. Thank you :)
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
    Name
    Kari The Finn
    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
    Occupation
    Back from retirement, IT consultant
    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.
    Country Flag
    Finland
    State/Region Flag
    de saxony

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