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

17 Feb 2014   #790
m4paws

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Kari, thank you so much for your fantastic tutorial. Worked great on a fresh install. However, I do have a question about an already installed Windows 7 that I've been using now for several months. I read Post 22 you linked to and I think I understand what to do. But my question is what happens to programs that are already installed? Will I need to reinstall them so they know where ProgramData folders are, do you know?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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17 Feb 2014   #791
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by m4paws View Post
Kari, thank you so much for your fantastic tutorial. Worked great on a fresh install. However, I do have a question about an already installed Windows 7 that I've been using now for several months. I read Post 22 you linked to and I think I understand what to do. But my question is what happens to programs that are already installed? Will I need to reinstall them so they know where ProgramData folders are, do you know?
Audit Mode, sysprepping Windows and everything else described in this tutorial are meant to be used when creating the install image, in other words while installing. When done when no user profiles have been created for a fresh Windows, the procedure always works.

As the sysprep as used in this tutorial changes environment variable values for locations of Users and Programdata folders, this procedure can also be done on an existing installation, with several existing user profiles and installed software because the changed environment variable values tell Windows exactly where to find those folders.

However, there are a few things you should consider before starting:
  • Relocating existing user profiles can really take a long time, depending on how much data there is to move
  • Some programs are badly coded using absolute location paths instead of environment variables, meaning you most probably end up with two Users folders (C: and "X:") as well as two ProgramData folders (see this post for more information)
  • If you have in-place upgraded your Seven from Vista or from inferior edition of Seven for instance with Anytime Upgrade, you cannot do this. The same if you have ever done a so called repair installation which is nothing but an in-place upgrade to same edition. Sysprep simply refuses to work on an upgraded Windows
My recommendation is simply to go ahead, the worst case scenario is you need to reinstall some software but I doubt it. I have done this tens of times on an existing Windows setup, never had any issues.

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Feb 2014   #792
m4paws

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kari View Post
My recommendation is simply to go ahead, the worst case scenario is you need to reinstall some software but I doubt it. I have done this tens of times on an existing Windows setup, never had any issues.

Kari
Thanks for your reply, Kari, I really appreciate it. I have Windows 7 and some programs on the C drive which is my SSD. I also have data and some programs on a mechanical drive, D drive. I built my system this past July and did a fresh install. At the time, I moved my User folders (My Documents, My Picutures, etc.) to the D drive, but all the ProgramData is on my C drive. I am the administrator, and there are no other accounts except Public and Default.

I think I will go ahead and try it. If it messes things up, I'll just restore my backup image, or simply reinstall any programs that need to be. I don't have a whole lot of stuff on my PC yet, so I think now is the time to try it.

Do you know when changing the ProgramData folders, if it also changes the location for Windows temp files? If not, is there a way to change location of the TEMP directory? I'd like to have temp files on my D drive, if possible.

Thanks again for your help.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Feb 2014   #793
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

You are welcome.

For additional tips, see my latest Sysprep tutorial: Windows 7 Image - Customize in Audit Mode with Sysprep .
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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09 Apr 2014   #794
AndyScook

Windows 7 Professional
 
 
Would like to do this on a fresh from factory computer....

Kari,

Thanks for your work on this.

I want to do this on freesh from factory computer I have coming.

It seems to cover installing from a CD/DVD but not from an initial setup. My concern is this part:

WOULD THIS BE C: INSTEAD
<cpifflineImage cpi:source="wim:E:/sources/install.wim#Windows 7 ULTIMATE" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" />

I also came across this:

Don't move your Windows user profiles folder to another drive | ZDNet

It seems there can be problems when moving the user profiles with upgrading and service packs. Is this true?

Suggestions?

Thanks for your time and any help, advice you can give.

Andy
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Apr 2014   #795
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Hi Andy, welcome to the Seven Forums.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by AndyScook View Post
Kari,

It seems to cover installing from a CD/DVD but not from an initial setup. My concern is this part:

WOULD THIS BE C: INSTEAD
<cpi:offlineImage cpi:source="wim:E:/sources/install.wim#Windows 7 ULTIMATE" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" />
No, you need access to a valid Windows 7 install media. You can download a Windows 7 ISO file and burn it to a DVD or USB if you don't get one with your PC, download links can be found for instance in Step 1 in this tutorial: Clean Install Windows 7

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by AndyScook View Post
I also came across this:

Don't move your Windows user profiles folder to another drive | ZDNet

It seems there can be problems when moving the user profiles with upgrading and service packs. Is this true?

Suggestions?
That misleading and outdated article has puzzled me since I saw it, so much that it made me to write another tutorial. In the very first sentence of that tutorial I link to this same article, see it yourself: Windows 7 Image - Customize in Audit Mode with Sysprep

First you need to understand the basic rules of sysprepping (this method is done with Sysprep):
  1. You cannot upgrade a Windows setup if some system folders are located outside the C: drive using Sysprep
  2. You cannot sysprep an upgraded Windows
Now both of these "rules" are easy to work around. For #1., when you want to upgrade a 7 Home Premium to 7 Professional or 7 Professional to 8 Pro (just to give two examples), you simply relocate the Users folder back to C: before starting the upgrade process.

For the #2, you need to edit a value or two in registry, thereafter you can sysprep an upgraded Windows.

The article you mentioned says you cannot update or upgrade after relocating Users and / or ProgramData folders. This simply is not correct information and I have given the article a lot of thoughts, what made a respected IT writer to publish something like this? The only reference to an official Microsoft article (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/l...(v=WS.10).aspx) he has is an outdated one, published for Vista so many years ago both Windows and especially the Sysprep tool have changed a lot since that.

Summary: Windows Update works without issues also when Users and / ProgramData folders in Windows 7 are relocated to another drive. An in-place upgrade is not possible by default after you have sysprepped your Windows, but can be easily done changing some values in registry.

What does Microsoft have to say about this? Let's search for a more recent Microsoft article than the one mentioned in that ZDNet article bothering you, see for instance this: Relocation of the Users directory and the ProgramData directory to a drive other than the drive that contains the Windows directory, from which here a short quote:

Quote:
%systemdrive% is defined as the drive that contains the Windows directory. There are various reasons why you may want to relocate the Users directory or the ProgramData directory to other drives.

For Windows, the most common reasons are as follows:
  • It is easier to back up data from a single drive and from a drive that contains only user files.
  • It is easier to rebuild the operating system drive on a user’s computer if user data is located on a separate volume. In this case, the drive that contains the Windows directory can be formatted, and Windows can be reinstalled without having to worry about how to remove user data.
Although also this article was originally written for Vista, it is more recent and contains more accurate information. Here's another interesting quote from this article:

Quote:
Note If you use the FolderLocations unattend setting to move user data to a location other than the %systemdrive% drive, some servicing components may not be installed. These components may include critical updates, security updates, hotfixes, and service packs. This issue is resolved if you have installed the servicing stack update for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) described in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 937287.
To put this short: The method described in this tutorial uses a built-in, native Microsoft Windows tool Sysprep, designed for this, and is completely safe. The relocating method is not created by me but by Microsoft, the makers of Windows, who have not only made it possible but also clearly tell why a user might want to do it.

There are a lot of happy geeks saving space on C: after using this method. As you can see if you read through all 800 posts in this thread, all issues we have covered have been caused by user, either a typo or wrongly given command and so on. Absolutely no update issues, no broken computers, nothing.

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Apr 2014   #796
Britton30
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1
 
 

I'm one of the many happy geeks who has used this method on 3 systems now. All are working very well. As Kari mentioned, I had some problems but they were due to typos and spelling. With Windows one must be exact.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Apr 2014   #797
m4paws

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I also am extremely happy after using this method on 2 new PC's. I wish I'd known about it before I installed Windows 7 at home. I am going to attempt to do this on the PC that already has Windows 7 installed.

With that said, I do have a question. I had already moved the user's My Documents folder. What will happen when I use this method since that user is already on my second HDD. Will it create a duplicate of that user? Would it be better to first move that user's documents back to the C drive where the OS is installed?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Apr 2014   #798
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by m4paws View Post
I had already moved the user's My Documents folder. What will happen when I use this method since that user is already on my second HDD. Will it create a duplicate of that user? Would it be better to first move that user's documents back to the C drive where the OS is installed?
When relocating the main profile folder Users with sysprep in an existing Windows setup, all user folders must be located under the current location of it. If your Users folder is at the moment located in C: (C:\Users), you must first move your Documents folder back there (C:\Users\Your_Username\Documents).

When done, you are ready to sysprep. Please notice that this can take quite some time, depending on how much data the various user profiles contain. Also keep on your mind that Sysprep removes the activation data; find your product key before starting, Windows needs to be re-activated afterwards.

And, of course, an important reminder:

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 to Seven, you cannot sysprep. The same applies if you have upgraded from a lesser edition to a better edition, for instance from Windows 7 Home Premium to Professional.

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.

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


Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Apr 2014   #799
AndyScook

Windows 7 Professional
 
 
Thanks!

Kari,

Thanks for your help.

Sorry i did not read thoroughly enough, but after 20 pages, I just went ahead and posted my question.

I get the new computer in a week. I will certainly post you on how it goes.

Take care,

Andy
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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