Issues Relocating Your Windows 7 Users Folder

So, yea, I followed these instructions for moving your Windows 7 folder to a different location, in my case, a different physical disk. Many people ask why you would do this, here are my reasons:

  • My boot drive is a 240MB SSD. If I can save space on this drive, I’ll do it.
  • This is a shared computer so some users actually store their media in their Users directory (e.g. desktop, My Documents, etc.), which can get extremely large.
  • The method I linked above uses the mklink command, which is similar to Linux’s ln command. I’ve used the mklink command before and is extremely useful, so I guess I wanted to see how well it could be done in this particular case.

The instructions were straight forward, just boot up using the Windows 7 installation disk and go to the recovery tools and start up the command prompt. Here is where you’ll copy your files and create the directory junction. However, here were the issues I ran into when I performed what I thought was a pretty simple procedure:

  • When I first rebooted, I ran into an issue where Windows could not find my profile. Just follow this conversation, which the solution worked for me. It simply involved rebooting into safe mode and modifying some registry keys.
  • My next issue was even more serious. I will say now, if you relocated your Users directory to a different location using the above method, DO NOT PERFORM A SYSTEM RECOVERY. It will more than likely screw up your user profile by deleting the NTUSER.DAT file. Once this happens, when you reboot after a system recovery, Windows 7 will complain that it cannot load your profile and so will use a temporary profile. At this point, unless you have a backup of your NTUSER.DAT file, you’re screwed. You’re only option is to:
    • Activate the Adminstrator account and login into that account
    • Backup all of your profiles
    • Delete all users
    • Re-create all users
    • Copy all of the files you need into each of the profiles from your profiles backup

If you do relocate your Users folder, I highly recommend you backup the NTUSER.DAT file for all of the profiles in Windows 7.