Don’t Move that Users folder!

Posted in Storage, Uncategorized by QuietOC on March 2, 2010

The SSD Dilemma

I recently purchased a 60 GB OCZ Agility SSD for our main system at home. It certainly has plenty of room for Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2007, Adobe Creative Suite, and a few Steam games. Of course, it doesn’t have enough room for our pictures, videos, or music, but I also have a new 1 TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 hard drive ready to store those files.

Moving C:\Users Via the Registry

I installed the SSD last week, and we already had a few files stored on the C:\User\ folders on the SSD. There are a few ways to automatically store files on another drive. One seemingly simple way is by editing the Windows registry to point the User profiles directory to another drive. While this works for new user profiles, it doesn’t actually move the existing profiles.

The Process

The directions are fairly simple: modify a few registry settings and then make a temporary administrator account. Log into the temporary account and move all the contents of C:\Users to the location you changed the registry to point to. Delete the old user accounts and everything in C:\Users. Rename the moved old user folders–their contents will have to be moved to newly created user folders after the next step. ¬†Create new users with the old user names, this will make new user folders on the hard drive. Copy the contents of the old renamed user folders into the new user folders, and finally delete the old renamed user folders.

The Problems

Now all of your old C:\User files are now located on the hard drive. The question is, is this what we really want? Now if the hard drive dies or is removed you will no longer be able to even login to Windows. Plus many of the files in the User folder are regularly accessed and thus should be on the fast SSD. Also some things just don’t transfer properly into the new user accounts, and there is no good way to undo the move. So, moving C:\Users is not recommended.

The Better Alternative

Don’t mess with the registry and just leave C:\Users and the user profile folders on the SSD. Instead use Microsoft’s option to move the user subfolders to other locations. Change the “Location” in the properties of the special subfolders of the user accounts on the SSD to point to other folders on the hard drive. while this will need to be done for each subfolder in each user folder, it has an advantage that multiple users can use the same hard drive folder. And Windows will also boot just fine without access to those folders, since the required profile information it needs remains on the SSD in C:\Users.

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