Change and Move Local User Profiles in Windows

The profile is the location where all data about a user are stored, including the user’s environment and preference settings. For example when you install a software (i.e. Outlook) the configuration and data about this user (account, database of all the emails) are stored in user profile (default configuration). If another user logon in the same PC, with another account, this user won’t see the data and configuration/personalization of the former user: every users has a different profile (i.e. this user won’t see the account used by the former user, and the emails too).

Actually the user profile is essentially a path where all the data about a user is stored (usually in XP C:\Documets and settings\<user name>, or in Windows 7 c:\Users\<user name>): in windows registry exist a link between <user name> and the path of user profile (really in windows registry the correspondence is <SID> – <path-of-user-profile>, where SID is the unique number that identify every user).

For example my user name is c.colombo, and the path to my profile is the next.

C:\Documets and settings\c.colombo

If I change the user name in carlo: the user profile will remain the same.

C:\Documets and settings\c.colombo

How is possibile to rename the profile ? I want to use consistently the next path to user profile.

C:\Documets and settings\carlo

Attention: There isn’t no reason for change the path of the profile when username change: this case is only for educational purpose to know all the pieces related to windows profile !

It isn’t possible rename only the folder c.colombo in carlo: the windows registry will point to old location ! If we rename the folder the next time that carlo will logon in the system, windows won’t retrieve the path stored in the registry (C:\Documents and settings\c.colombo) and automatically re-create brand-new folder carlo (or something like that) empty without any configuration !

Step 1
Logon to PC with an admin account that is not the account being renamed.

Step 2
Open the Documents and Settings folder: the list of folders will be displayed, and rename the correct folder.


c:\Documents and Settings\c.colombo


c:\Documents and Settings\carlo

Step 3
Next step is to notify the system in registry key that the user profile path has changed. The ProfileList registry key contains some sub-keys, which are nothing but the list of User Account Security Identifiers (SID): inside there is the key ProfileImagePath, that is the path to profile of the SID. Each of the SID represents an Account.

The key is located here:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\ Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

Identify the SID for your User account, and change the Profile path.

For example.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\ Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\S-1-5-21-528741884-761549532-104871099-1000

Inside that key there is the value ProfileImagePath c:\Documents and Settings\c.colombo (the path to the User Profile): you have to change in c:\Documents and Settings\carlo.

Step 4
Close Registry Editor, and restart Windows.

Att.: In Windows 7 the path is c:\Users\ instead of c:\Documents and Settings\ and all the step are the same.

How do I copy one user profile to another in different PC ?
It is possible to use this procedure to move the profile of one user to the same user in another PC (i.e. Change of PC) or copy one user profile to another in the same pc or another.

For the next we have to move the user profile from PC-A to PC-B (PC-A can be the same of PC-B).

Step 1
Create new user account in PC-B

Step 2
Logon to that account to initialize the newly created profile (that is to create the correctly the path of the profile)

Step 3
Logon in PC-A with the user account of the profile that we want to move.

Step 4
Disconnect every mapped netwok folder, and empty the cache of firefox, internet explorer etc (the procedure will move the cache too, and this can take a lot of time). We have to disconnect mapped shared folder because the procedure attempt to move this folder too.

Step 5
Launch migwiz (in Windows 7 the real name in Windows Easy Transfer, but if you lanuch migwiz the system will lauch Windows Easy Transfer instead).

Step 6
The wizard guide you to collect the profile in different file inside a folder that you have to configure

Step 7
In PC-B logon with the new user account e move here the folder collected before.

Step 8
Launch migwiz/Windows Easy Transfer, and the wizard guide you to select the folder with the old profile, and after will start the recovery of the profile

Att: If you launch migwiz/Windows Easy Transfer in PC-A e PC-B (connected to each others with LAN) is possibly to move directly the profile without the creation of file.

Att: In migwiz if you leave the default parameter not only the profile will be moved from PC-A to PC-B: the files/folder on disk c: will be moved too.