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Windows 7: User Profiles - Create and Move During Windows 7 Installation

20 Jan 2011   #40
m3gaman

Windows 7 Professional
 
 

Awesome tutorial, great work.
I have a quick question.
What is the proper syntax for setting the path for Program Files (x86) and Program Files.

Quote:
<FolderLocations>
<ProfilesDirectory>d:\Users</ProfilesDirectory>
<ProgramData>d:\ProgramData</ProgramData>
</FolderLocations>
I am aware that changing these directories isn't reccomended but I need the space.

Thanks in Advance

-Zach


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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24 Jan 2011   #41
Riotubes

Win7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kari View Post
Thanks!

Windows native imaging always includes Users and ProgramData in a system image, so no, I do not know how not to include D: or whatever drive where your user profiles are saved.

Using third party imaging, as you told you do, is as far as I know the only option.

Kari
As a noob, may I ask if it is desirable to include Users and ProgramData when imaging the C drive OS, or can these folders be treated the same as the rest of one's data disk and be backed up independently? If the answer is that Users / ProgramData can be treated independent of OS image, then can an image program like Macrium or Acronis accomplished this whereas Seven's image utility cannot? Finally, if these 3rd party programs must also include Users then would it be OK to install Users and/or ProgramData on a smaller partition for this sole use...separate from a 1TB data drive to avoid including the data partition in the OS image? I hope my Qs make sense!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jan 2011   #42
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Riotubes View Post
As a noob, may I ask if it is desirable to include Users and ProgramData when imaging the C drive OS, or can these folders be treated the same as the rest of one's data disk and be backed up independently? If the answer is that Users / ProgramData can be treated independent of OS image, then can an image program like Macrium or Acronis accomplished this whereas Seven's image utility cannot? Finally, if these 3rd party programs must also include Users then would it be OK to install Users and/or ProgramData on a smaller partition for this sole use...separate from a 1TB data drive to avoid including the data partition in the OS image? I hope my Qs make sense!
The problem is, when you use this method to permanently relocate these folders, the information is "hard coded" to the system (registry etc.). If you now create a system image without these folders, it can result a non-responding system when image is restored, or at least create some serious file / folder ownership problems.

The only way to make a system image I recommend is to always let the image include all system folders, including for instance Users. I really want to make this very clear: I, or this tutorial, can not be held responsible if you do not include the relocated folders in your system image and you find yourself in deep s*** after restoring a non-complete, deficient image.

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jan 2011   #43
Riotubes

Win7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

Thank you, Kari, for the clarification. If one images the OS, then it only makes sense to image the Users and App folders. But it makes no sense to have to include the user data (files, movies, music, stuff, etc).

Hence, if one has the OS on SSD and data files on 2nd HDD, would it not be prudent to place the Users and App folders on a small partition for this sole use and then one's files (data, movies, music, etc.) on the larger partition of the same HDD drive? Then associate the data files with Users and App folders through Libraries? Does this seem like it would work?

Thanks!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

24 Jan 2011   #44
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

That's quite close to what I'm doing.

All my Windows 7 rigs have the same basic setup:
  • C: has only Windows and Program Files
  • D: has Users and Program Data
  • Additional drives have all media folders and act as default download save location
I like Windows 7 Libraries system very much, it's making my computing easier than ever before. Only the library Documents contains save locations on drive D: (%userprofile%\Documents and Public\Documents). All other libraries, in my case Music, Pictures, Videos, Work, Recorded TV, Downloads and Virtual Machines have been set up so that they contain locations on other drives. This way all files taking a lot of space (media and virtual machine vhd's) are saved outside the two drives included in system image, C: and D:.

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jan 2011   #45
Riotubes

Win7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

Again, this is very helpful. I am sorry to belabor a few of these points but there are probably other novice users like me that could benefit from even more details.

When you say "Only the library Documents contains save locations on drive D" does this mean that you save "My Documents" type files like msoffice files (excl video, recorded tv, etc.) in this partition...or is D really just the Users and ProgramData "system files"? Sorry for my ignorance on what gets saved to Users and ProgramData folders. I am asking because I'd like some feedback on how to "size" this partition used solely for Users and ProgramData folders. If it were just system files would 5-10GB be sufficient? If its broader and includes "My Docs" (I brand new to Win7 and using XP language) then maybe 100GB would do on a 1TB HDD?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jan 2011   #46
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Here's how I've done:

All documents, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint files and for instance PDF manuals and so on I save to Documents library. This library includes two physical locations, D:\Users\Kari\Documents and D:\Users\Public\Documents, default library save location is set to Kari\Documents. When saving for instance a Word doc, I do not select this actual physical folder from Save As dialog. Instead, I select Libraries > Documents.

User Profiles - Create and Move During Windows 7 Installation-libraries_locations_1.png

The Music library contains three locations. I have left D:\Users\Kari\Music and D:\Users\Public\Muclic there in case I accidentally save some music to these folders, but library default save location is set to J:\Music. All music is there.

User Profiles - Create and Move During Windows 7 Installation-libraries_locations_2.png

When saving any kind of files, I never select the actual folder as save location. I always select the respective library as save location, so I do not have to remember the actual location nor do I have to browse deep in the folder structure. Just select the correct library and the file is there.

User Profiles - Create and Move During Windows 7 Installation-libraries_locations_3.png

In Media Center, I have set default recording to go to drive H:. My Recorded TV library only contains one location, H:\Recorded TV, so also these lot of space demanding files are saved outside those two system drives included in system image.

Kari


My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Jan 2011   #47
Riotubes

Win7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

Wow, what a fantastic and thorough reply to my questions. Thank you Kari.

This way of separating Users and ProgramData for the C drive could really benefit those concerned about: (1) space issues on C, (2) too much write activity on a SSD on which the OS is located or (3) unnecessarily bloating up the OS partition. Is there any technical reason (aside from the add'l complexity in setup and imaging procedures) why one might NOT want to do this? I have read posts on other forums that suggest that these folders are so integrated in Win7 that separating them onto another partition or disk just causes the OS extra work. In the case where the OS and Users / ProgramApp folders are installed on an HDD, I've read that the disk head now has to work much harder with the added distance the disk head must move to access Users / ProgramApp folders? With an SSD and HDD setup, this is a bit different. Is this a genuine issue? I guess the practical matter is whether one's perception of response time is different in any meaningful way, whether one's sees more error messages or whether one's disks could be expected to wear out materially faster? Any thoughts on whether these technical issues are legitimate concerns in this context?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Feb 2011   #48
unifex

Windows 7 Ultimate (x64)
 
 

Kari, this is a great tutorial and I followed it rather successfully now that I got a SSD and I wanted to keep the folders which are repeatedly written to by Windows off the SSD (otherwise I don't care much for the C:\Users\ folder structure for I never store my files there, that came from the old days when I hated the "My ..." folder names and also since I am using Cygwin and want to keep folder names without spaces).

Now, the real question that bothers me, is that the hard drive that I used to put the those Program Data folders on started making some weird stuttering noise (or at least that's where I think the noise is coming from since it disappeared when I disconnected the drive). So now what happens if I need to change the drive, or rather (as it is the case with my current install) just need to move those folders to another existing drive (I'd rather not buy another drive for this PC, it's aging and the money is better spent on a new machine).

So, I understand that I can move the D:\User to some other drive by using one of the relevant tutorials. But what about the Program Data? how can I move it to another drive once the system is already installed? Of course I may re-install, but that's what I'd try to avoid if possible.

Thanks in advance!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Feb 2011   #49
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by unifex View Post
So, I understand that I can move the D:\User to some other drive by using one of the relevant tutorials. But what about the Program Data? how can I move it to another drive once the system is already installed? Of course I may re-install, but that's what I'd try to avoid if possible.

Thanks in advance!
You can relocate (move) the ProgramData back to C: or any other drive, then change the faulty disk and repeat the steps to relocate it again to the new disk.

So for instance if you have used this tutorial to relocate ProgramData to D:, and the disk must be replaced, you could do it like this:
  • Follow the steps told here to boot to Audit Mode
  • Edit the XML script to put ProgramData back to C: (if you don't have to think about Users, remove that line from script):
    Quote:
    <FolderLocations>
    <ProfilesDirectory>d:\Users</ProfilesDirectory> Remove this line if Users must not be moved
    <ProgramData>C:\ProgramData</ProgramData> Change the drive to C:
    </FolderLocations>
  • Run sysprep with the script
  • Replace the faulty disk D:
  • Boot to Audit Mode again
  • Edit the script to move ProgramData back to D:
  • Run sysprep with the script

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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