Moving the “Users” directory in Windows 7

This shows you how to move the C:\Users\ folder to a different location.

If you want to have your Users folder stored somewhere other than the default location, you generally need to do an unattended installation with a modified installation script. If want to move the folder on an existing installation, then you need to make a couple of changes to the registry and then move the folder yourself. This is what we’ll do here.

The Users folder is the default folder/directory name for the Windows ProfilesDirectory, and by default it is stored in %SystemDrive%. Typically this is your C:\ drive (unless you installed Windows on a different drive), so it looks like C:\User\. We’re going to move it to the D: drive.

First, as always, backup your files and create a restore point just in case something goes wrong. Once you’ve done that go through the following:

  1. Create a temporary admin user temp-admin.
  2. Log out from your current user and log back in as the temp-admin user. (Don’t just switch users, actually log-out and then back in.). If you encounter any files in your original user account that are still in use, try restarting the computer.
  3. Create a D:\Users\ folder.
  4. Move every folder except Public and temp-admin from C:\User\ to D:\User\. Make sure you include all the hidden folders too.
  5. Copy the Public folder from C:\User\ to D:\User\.
  6. Open the Registry Editor and go to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList.
  7. Replace %SystemDrive% to D: in the Default, ProfilesDirectory, and Public keys.
  8. Expand the ProfileList tree-node to show all the profiles, and go through these replacing C: to D: in any ProfileImagePath that points to C:\Users\.... There should be one of these for each user account.
  9. Restart your computer and log in as your normal Admin user.
  10. The Users folder is now in the desired location. You can delete the temp-admin user.

Update: If you encounter the user profile service failed the logon error when you try to log in using an account created after moving the ProfilesDirectory, it is because you didn’t include the Default folder when moving folders from C:\Users\ to D:\Users\. This folder is used as a template for creating profiles for new accounts. Make sure it exists in your new ProfilesDirectory.

Thanks to a blog entry at rob.brooks-bilson.com for this update.

Author: Musaul Karim

Software Engineer, Hobbyist Photographer, and a bit of a gadget geek.

4 thoughts on “Moving the “Users” directory in Windows 7”

    1. I’ll admit I haven’t installed an Upgrade version of Windows for a while, but for me Windows Upgrade installs were never a smooth sailing in the Windows 98, 2000, and XP days. This method worked fine for clean full version installs. However, since modern versions of Windows no longer seem to grind to a halt after a few months of use, I guess you don’t need to go through the installation rituals every few months anymore. But, I’ve never had issues with patch or service pack installations. That stability also means I don’t really have a need to upgrade from 7. Perhaps not until 10 is released, and that will most likely be another clean full version install, with all my data still intact in my “off system” drive.

      Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the risks, and the fact that this isn’t for everyone.

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