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

11 Apr 2014   #800
mikel023

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I've already done this during clean install of Windows 7 long time ago. Is it possible to redone this? Because after I perform a chkdsk, it seems that it doesn't recognize the users folder anymore. It says "preparing your desktop" on login screen and when I login successfully on desktop, a message pops up on tray saying that "Windows has loaded the default user profile..." and then, the explorer.exe stops responding.

Thanks for response!


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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11 Apr 2014   #801
m4paws

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kari View Post
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).

.....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.[/warn]

Kari
Thanks very much, Kari! I really appreciate it. I am going to try this on my already installed Windows 7 (was installed as brand new installation, not an upgrade or repair, but thanks for the info). If some programs cry because ProgramData was moved, I will just reinstall them. Hopefully all will work as planned. I know on my work PC's, your method worked flawlessly and thanks again for that. You are a true hero
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Apr 2014   #802
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mikel023 View Post
I've already done this during clean install of Windows 7 long time ago. Is it possible to redone this? Because after I perform a chkdsk, it seems that it doesn't recognize the users folder anymore. It says "preparing your desktop" on login screen and when I login successfully on desktop, a message pops up on tray saying that "Windows has loaded the default user profile..." and then, the explorer.exe stops responding.

Thanks for response!
You give awfully little information but it sounds like a user profile service issue. See this tutorial for possible help: User Profile Service failed the logon. User profile cannot be loaded.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by m4paws View Post
Thanks very much, Kari! I really appreciate it. I am going to try this on my already installed Windows 7 (was installed as brand new installation, not an upgrade or repair, but thanks for the info). If some programs cry because ProgramData was moved, I will just reinstall them. Hopefully all will work as planned. I know on my work PC's, your method worked flawlessly and thanks again for that. You are a true hero
I need that last sentence in official signed letter, to show to my ex-wives .

Come back with any issues.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Apr 2014   #803
crawfish

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

When you move Users and ProgramData, what is the effect on restoring an OS image or reinstalling Windows? Programs store hidden data and settings in Users/username/AppData and also ProgramData, so it would seem that restoring an image that's out of date could restore prior versions of programs that might not work with the current data and settings due to format changes. It might be impossible or dangerous to use those programs before updating them. When you leave Users and ProgramData on the system drive, this is not an issue, though the data files you've saved yourself might be. However, the restored programs should be good to go, internally consistent, and immediately usable.

Also, with Users and ProgramData moved, the OS installation doesn't stand on its own. That is, it's not usable without those folders being present wherever you moved them to. What happens when your user profile drive dies, or you boot without it connected?

I didn't see anything about these potential issues on the front page or the PDF.

I'm interested in this topic because I'm always seeing it on the "New Posts" entry page, and it's something I used to do for NT4/2K/XP until I gave up on it in Vista, although I was doing it manually through registry edits and whatnot, which got progressively more difficult with each release. Actually, I would just move MY entire profile folder to another drive and leave the Users folder on the system drive. Nevertheless, ISTR encountering a serious problem in Vista when my user profile drive died, and double Ctrl+Alt+Del wouldn't let me into the Administrator account. Ever since that bad experience, I've been relocating just my data folders. I'm interested in how disaster scenarios unfold under the more sophisticated method presented here, and if there are any special considerations, it would be good to mention them in the documentation.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

26 Apr 2014   #804
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by crawfish View Post
When you move Users and ProgramData, what is the effect on restoring an OS image or reinstalling Windows?
Creating a system image with relocated Users and / or ProgramData folders, the drive containing them must of course be included. No difference there compared to a system image from a one drive system, which would also naturally include those two folders.

Restoring a dual drive system image is as if you restored a normal system image with everything on one drive (partition), only difference being you of course need two drives to restore to.

Reinstalling is exactly as when reinstalling a system where everything is on one drive:
  • Backup your user data to external storage
  • Wipe / format User Profile drive if exists
  • Reinstall Windows
  • If wanted, use sysprep to relocate Users and / or Program Data folders
  • Restore your user data from backup to respective folders

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by crawfish View Post
Also, with Users and ProgramData moved, the OS installation doesn't stand on its own. That is, it's not usable without those folders being present wherever you moved them to. What happens when your user profile drive dies, or you boot without it connected?
Why would you want to boot without a user profile drive connected? What happens if you have everything on C: and that drive dies or becomes corrupt? Totally irrelevant questions.

Today it's more and more normal to have system on SSD which is more likely to crash than a spinner; really, the chance to lose your user data is less likely when it's safely located on another than system drive.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by crawfish View Post
I didn't see anything about these potential issues on the front page or the PDF.
I do not see any potential issues in your post. Please if you find some, let me know and I will add them to tutorial.

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Apr 2014   #805
crawfish

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kari View Post
Creating a system image with relocated Users and / or ProgramData folders, the drive containing them must of course be included. No difference there compared to a system image from a one drive system, which would also naturally include those two folders.
There is a difference, because a person who moves Users isn't likely to automatically think to move his data folders out of his already moved user folder, so this naive fellow is going to end up imaging all his data, which wouldn't have come up if he had left Users alone and just moved his data folders. Also, I don't know if the Terabyte imaging programs I use account for these split up Windows systems you're promoting, so that would be another thing to address in a document that discusses potential issues and compares and contrasts to less drastic measures.

To be more specific, I image my OS drive, but I back up my moved data folders separately using a conventional file-based backup program, the programs being Image for Linux and SyncBackSE, respectively. I can restore my OS to a single small drive and immediately have a completely functional system with fully working programs. I can plug my backup drives into my dock and immediately access my files. If for some reason I can't immediately get my system fully back to normal with multiple drives, at least I can still use it.

Quote:
Restoring a dual drive system image is as if you restored a normal system image with everything on one drive (partition), only difference being you of course need two drives to restore to.
That's a pretty serious consequence.

Quote:
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by crawfish View Post
Also, with Users and ProgramData moved, the OS installation doesn't stand on its own. That is, it's not usable without those folders being present wherever you moved them to. What happens when your user profile drive dies, or you boot without it connected?
Why would you want to boot without a user profile drive connected? What happens if you have everything on C: and that drive dies or becomes corrupt? Totally irrelevant questions.
Obviously, it is possible for your profile drive to die. As I mentioned in my next paragraph, which you clipped and ignored, it happened to me in Vista, and it left me in a very sticky situation. There are also various troubleshooting scenarios in which I would want to be able to run with just the one drive connected. Besides drives outright dying, I've had ports and cables go bad.

Quote:
Today it's more and more normal to have system on SSD which is more likely to crash than a spinner; really, the chance to lose your user data is less likely when it's safely located on another than system drive.
Actually, using more drives increases the number of failure modes, such as a dead profile drive rendering the system useless, something that would not have happened if you had just moved data folders to the malfunctioning drive.

Quote:
I do not see any potential issues in your post. Please if you find some, let me know and I will add them to tutorial.

Kari
Re-read first message and my reply to you in this one. If you manage to respond to them meaningfully, I'll consider adding a more obscure one.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Apr 2014   #806
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

I repeat what I said: if you find a potential issue, please let me know and I will add it to the tutorial. Until now you have only told something that might or might not happen, be it a one drive system or one with system folders located on different drives.

Some comments:

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by crawfish View Post
There is a difference, because a person who moves Users isn't likely to automatically think to move his data folders out of his already moved user folder, so this naive fellow is going to end up imaging all his data
If a user is so careless, he / she might as well forget the same personal data on C:\Users, result being the same: a huge image with all personal files and folders. An experienced user knows better, but mistakes happen, whether you are using a single or multi drive system. The same mistakes.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by crawfish View Post
Quote:
Restoring a dual drive system image is as if you restored a normal system image with everything on one drive (partition), only difference being you of course need two drives to restore to.
That's a pretty serious consequence.
Excuse me? Pretty serious consequence? To create an image of two drives and restore it to two drives?

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by crawfish View Post
Obviously, it is possible for your profile drive to die. As I mentioned in my next paragraph, which you clipped and ignored, it happened to me in Vista
Are you serious? Of course I ignored it, what has something that happened years ago for your Vista installation to do with much more evolved Seven? Be serious.

Please understand this: I am in no position to tell you what to do; it is of course up to you to decide. This is a fully functioning method, reading for instance this thread through you'd notice that all issues we have had have been user caused. Mistakes. And, as I mentioned before, those mistakes can happen to any user, experienced or not, using a multi drive system setup or not.

Every user with some Windows knowledge and experience will know that if you have modified your setup, you need to take some extra steps when imaging, upgrading and so on.

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Apr 2014   #807
Britton30
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1
 
 

Program Data and (personal) data are different, Program data has file need for, well, program, to run, personal data isn't even needed.

I do remember that I have moved them. An image program, e.g. Macrium, can make a System image that includes both drives anyway.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Apr 2014   #808
crawfish

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kari View Post
I repeat what I said: if you find a potential issue, please let me know and I will add it to the tutorial. Until now you have only told something that might or might not happen, be it a one drive system or one with system folders located on different drives.
I was being polite characterizing these things as "potential" issues. Something that happens is a real issue. The only "potential" involved is whether or not a given user ever encounters it. The questions are, what exactly happens, and how do you deal with it when it does. These are things worth talking about.

Quote:
Some comments:
And. Here. We. Go.

Again.

Quote:
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by crawfish View Post
There is a difference, because a person who moves Users isn't likely to automatically think to move his data folders out of his already moved user folder, so this naive fellow is going to end up imaging all his data
If a user is so careless, he / she might as well forget the same personal data on C:\Users, result being the same: a huge image with all personal files and folders. An experienced user knows better, but mistakes happen, whether you are using a single or multi drive system. The same mistakes.
Therefore, you're tacitly promoting yet another drive or partition to hold the data folders. This is something I think is worth mentioning in your article. Saving space on your system drive is nice, but if you're concerned with backups, and you should be, this is something else you must consider. Of course, it adds more complexity and clutter, including the guesswork in choosing partition sizes.

Quote:
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by crawfish View Post
That's a pretty serious consequence.
Excuse me? Pretty serious consequence? To create an image of two drives and restore it to two drives?
As I explained immediately before that, and you again clipped:

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by crawfish View Post
To be more specific, I image my OS drive, but I back up my moved data folders separately using a conventional file-based backup program, the programs being Image for Linux and SyncBackSE, respectively. I can restore my OS to a single small drive and immediately have a completely functional system with fully working programs. I can plug my backup drives into my dock and immediately access my files. If for some reason I can't immediately get my system fully back to normal with multiple drives, at least I can still use it.
In contrast to me, if you don't have those two drives to perform the restore, you're screwed. That's a "pretty serious consequence" in my book. You really don't seem to be thinking about disaster recovery in the slightest, and worse, you're openly disdainful when it's brought up.

Quote:
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by crawfish View Post
Obviously, it is possible for your profile drive to die. As I mentioned in my next paragraph, which you clipped and ignored, it happened to me in Vista
Are you serious? Of course I ignored it, what has something that happened years ago for your Vista installation to do with much more evolved Seven? Be serious.
A reasonable response to my comments about Vista would have been to explain how Windows 7 reacts when you boot with the data drive dead or disconnected, which I directly asked in my first message:

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by crawfish View Post
I'm interested in this topic because I'm always seeing it on the "New Posts" entry page, and it's something I used to do for NT4/2K/XP until I gave up on it in Vista, although I was doing it manually through registry edits and whatnot, which got progressively more difficult with each release. Actually, I would just move MY entire profile folder to another drive and leave the Users folder on the system drive. Nevertheless, ISTR encountering a serious problem in Vista when my user profile drive died, and double Ctrl+Alt+Del wouldn't let me into the Administrator account. Ever since that bad experience, I've been relocating just my data folders. I'm interested in how disaster scenarios unfold under the more sophisticated method presented here, and if there are any special considerations, it would be good to mention them in the documentation.
Note that I wasn't even moving the Users folder, just my profile folder. My hope would be that Windows 7 would offer to create a new Users folder and a temporary profile, but I don't know that, and my Vista experience makes it the first thing I think of when I see your thread for the umpteenth time on the "New Posts" page due to all the difficulty people encounter trying to apply your advice. Even if it does create a temporary profile, your followers are still more or less up a creek if they moved ProgramData, which is an even worse idea than the bad idea of moving Users. A person can get the majority of space saving benefits simply by moving data folders and avoid the complications that are brought by relocating the Users and ProgramData folders.

Instead of answering the polite question, you ignored it, and then you came back and ridiculed it by asserting that Windows 7 is more "evolved". If you don't know the answer, you'd do better to admit it, and a serious person genuinely concerned with giving solid advice would answer it simply and directly. You've responded similarly to the other consequences of splitting Windows up, which either you don't understand, or they're something you'd rather not talk about because you seem to have so much invested in this thread.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Apr 2014   #809
Britton30
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1
 
 

Crawfish, have you even tried the process yet, or are you just making comments, or trolling?

"Disaster scenarios" are the result of two things, inability to read or bad hardware.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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