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

User Profiles - Create and Move During Windows 7 Installation

How to Create User Accounts on another Partition or Disk During Windows 7 Installation
Published by Kari
11 Nov 2010
Published by

How to Create User Accounts on another Partition or Disk During Windows 7 Installation

information   Information
There are several methods to move user profiles to another disk or partition after you have installed Windows 7. The easiest way is to use Audit Mode and System Preparation Tool, both built-in Windows 7 features, to permanently move the location of the folder Users.

This tutorial shows how to relocate both Users and ProgramData to another disk or partition when doing a new, fresh and clean install of Windows 7. If you have already installed Seven, and you'd like to move those folders away from their default location in C: drive, please read first post number 22 in this thread. Follow the steps told in that post, and continue then from beginning of the page 4 in this tutorial.
When Windows 7 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), 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 folders. When a new user account is created and this new user logs in first time, Windows creates a set of user specific folders Users\New_User
Moving Windows and Program Files folders is not recommend by Microsoft. However, moving both Users and ProgramData folders is safe and 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.

For instance, using this laptop of mine as an example, the total size of Users folder and subfolders is at the moment about 240 GB. The size of ProgramData folder is at the moment almost 18 GB. I simply could not have these folders stored in my system C: drive, there’s not enough space.

When installing Windows 7, I recommend using Windows System Preparation Tool (Sysprep) in so called Audit Mode to relocate Users and ProgramData, leaving C: drive only for Windows and applications.

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.

Using this method causes Windows 7 to lose activation information, and it needs to be reactivated afterwards. If your Windows 7 is an OEM version, you might not be able to reactivate it, at least not without phone activation option.

warning   Warning
IE10 Users: Please read this article first: Sysprep Fatal Error With IE 10 (FIX) | System Administration

Complete tutorial as PDF: Relocate User folders during Windows 7 installation.pdf (1.22 MB)


12 Nov 2010   #1

Windows® 8 Pro (64-bit)

OMG! That is simply awesome. I never knew such thing even exist in Windows 7. I learned a lot from this tutorial and this will help many people here. Excellent work mate. :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Nov 2010   #2
A Guy

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 10 Home x64

Great work Kari, well done :)

A Guy
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Nov 2010   #3

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult x64 - SP1/ Windows 8 Pro x64

Well done, nice tut thank you :)

I'll be using this on my next re-install.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

12 Nov 2010   #4
Bare Foot Kid
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate

Hello Kari, you are one of the true Gurus around here; I'll rep you for this when I'm able.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Nov 2010   #5

Win7 HP (x64)/Win7 Ultimate (x64)

Great job Kari :)
Thanks for this - have to spread some around first

My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Nov 2010   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Thanks geeks.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Nov 2010   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 10 Pro x64

This is great info, nice work Kari.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Dec 2010   #8
mickey megabyte

ultimate 64 sp1

i should be receiving an ssd some time today, and i'll be doing a clean install.

i'm eager to get my user profiles on another partition on another drive, as space is tight, only 60 gigs.

i've been advised (by whs and others) to disconnect my spinner whilst installing 7 onto an ssd.

but your tutorial needs the other drive connected during the install process.

do you see my problem?

do i do this instead?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Dec 2010   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


You can do this only if you have the drive where you want to relocate Users connected. Sorry. You have basically two options: first, let the second drive be connected but do not format it before in Audit Mode. If it's formatted, delete the partitions. Second possibility is to start installation with second drive disconnected, then when Windows boots first time to Audit Mode shut it down from Start Menu > Shut Down (Definitely not from sysprep dialog!). Now connect the second drive, and reboot. The Windows boots back to Audit mode, and you can run the script.

AS long as Windows is not rebooted from sysprep dialog window in OOBE, it always boots back to Audit Mode, so this is a completely safe way to do this.


Tip   Tip

A tip for those who decide to give this a go and only format drives when installing: That script on that PDF-tutorial is really boring to type, you'll make typos quite easily. What I always do is to copy and paste that script to an email which I send to one of my web based email addresses. When then in Audit mode, I just open IE long enough to get that mail, copy paste it to Notepad and save.

Saves a lot of work, and guarantees there are no typos in script. Of course, if your second HD or drive is already formatted, you can copy it there before starting installation.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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