Move C:\Users Folder to its own Drive

Synopsis

Confirmed working on Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8/10.

This document was first written in 2006 for Windows 2000/XP and recently updated for newer versions.

Below describes how to move "C:\Documents and Settings" and "C:\Users" to its own drive, which will improve system performance by minimizing the fragmentation of Operating System files. In addition, should the Operating System become corrupt one can reinstall Microsoft Windows without losing any profile data.

Warning: It is recommended you backup your data before making changes.

Description

1. Preparation

For Windows 8/10 users, you need to first disable auto-login. This means you will need to type in your username to login however this can be reverted once the profile directory has been changed:

WINKEY+R > secpol.msc > Local Policies > Security Options > Interactive logon: Do not display last user name = Enabled

Ensure your user account has Administrative permissions and the destination drive is initialised and formatted.

Create a new temporary Administrative account, reboot your PC and log-in with the new profile.

2. Set Profile Location

Open "Regedit" and modify the following key to point to your new profile location (e.g. E:):

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\ProfilesDirectory

For Windows Vista/7/8/10 the additional entries must also be modified:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\Default
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\Public

Expand "ProfileList" and modify the "ProfileImagePath" key in each profile (excluding S-1-5-18/19/20) to that of your new profile location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\<profile>\ProfileImagePath

3. Update Shell Folders

Navigate to the key below and modify all string values so as "C:\Documents and Settings" or "C:\Users" points to the new profile location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders*

4. Move "C:\Documents and Settings" / "C:\Users"

Open "Explorer" and check you can view hidden and system files:

For Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 (if you can't see the menu bar press the ALT key):

Tools > Folder options...

For Windows 8/10:

View > Options

... and then in the View tab:

Select "Show hidden files, folders, and drives"
Untick "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)"

Copy all profiles (except LocalService and NetworkService on XP; and the temporary profile you are using) from "C:\Documents and Settings" or "C:\Users" to the new profile location.

5. Reboot and Test

Reboot your PC and log-in with your user account (not the temporary Administrative account created above). It is now safe to remove the temporary Administrative account and delete "C:\Documents and Settings" or "C:\Users".

Create a new test account and then log-in to that account. Its profile should be created in the new location.

Troubleshooting

Make sure the "Default User" has been copied over as all new profiles are created from this template.

If you are unable to delete "C:\Documents and Settings" or "C:\Users" due to file locks, then you may need to scan the registry for keys pointing to "C:\Documents and Settings" or "C:\Users" and map them to the new profile location. In all my testing and usage I have never had to do this.

Thanks to David Chappaz for pointing out the Digital Rights Management key below needs to be changed to the new location (if being used). If "UpgradePath" exists then it should be changed too.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\DRM\DataPath
Copyright 2018