Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to Change User Profile Default Location in Windows 7

How to Change User Profile Default Location in Windows 7

The default location of user profile in Windows 7 is still the same as Vista, in c:\users folder, which I often find it seems quite dumb putting user profiles in the same partition as the system, especially when I store most of my day-to-day files in my user profile, rather than another folder in another partition. So my preference of the first step after installing the OS on my own computer is always to change the default location to another partition before I actually start setting up my profile.

Normally, you can do that by either using a pre-defined unattended install file, or moving the individual folders inside the user profile which also will update the registry keys accordingly to reflect the change.
However, here is what I’ve done normally.

Warning before you attempt making any change in the registry, make sure you have the original registry backed up. This can save your mass if you did something wrong.
1. Copy the original Default profile folder in C:\users to the new location. (by default this “Default” directory is hidden, you need to go Tools > Folder Options > View (tab) > Show Hidden files, folders, and drivers.)
2. Copy the original Public profile folder in C:\users to the new location. (lets say D:\ drive)
3. Open Registry Editor by type regedit from command line, and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\WINDOWS NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList.
4. Change the value of the Default, Public, Profile Directory keys to the new location accordingly.
5. Log off. From this point on, any new user logged in to this computer will have a new user profile that’s located in the new location.
Before changing the registry.
After changing the registry.(as using D:\ drive for example)
6. When you logged into your new account (make sure with the new profile location) you can now delete your old account prior to the change.
A few notes:
  • It applies to Windows Vista as well.
  • There will be a lot more steps to move a user profile that’s already been generated. So highly recommend that doing so as early as you can. A brand new fresh profile is always better.
  • see this post when you failed to upgrade due to the change of the user profile location
  • If you’ve done everything and see an error message in your user profile directory saying “Some library features are unavailable due to unsupported library locations. Click here to learn more …”
This is an indication that you didn’t do the step correctly. Check if you have the miss spell the directory name etc. And also make sure you have logged out in order to take effect.
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