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I'm refurbishing a computer for my brother and his family. The main drive is split into 4 partitions:

  • WinXP C: drive;
  • Ubuntu system partition;
  • Ubuntu swap partition;
  • NTFS data partition (currently D:)

I've configured users for each of the family members, and if it were my machine I'd leave the data partition mounted at D:, and access it manually. But I think it'll be easier for them if they don't need to take drive letters into account before deciding where to save a file. Instead, I'd like to configure it so their user profiles are all on that partition automatically.

I see two ways of doing this:

  1. Make a D:\Users directory, containing a "My Documents" folder for each user, and follow the directions in this question to redirect each user's "My Documents" folder to D: (ideally ending up with D:\Users\user1's Documents, D:\Users\user2's Documents, etc).

  2. Migrate the entire contents of "C:\Documents and Settings" into the root of D:, remove the D: drive letter, and mount that partition at the C:\Documents and Settings" folder.

#1 seems easier to accomplish, but #2 seems more complete -- not only do you get the individual "My Documents" folders, but you get the Desktop folder, program settings folders, and user registry hives automatically. But I'm unsure of how to accomplish #2 without screwing up the file permissions.

Am I missing an option? What's the best way? If it's #2, can I just copy the profile directories from the Administrator account in Safe Mode, or will that create a permissions mess?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Folder Redirector can be used to relocate the special folders to a different path.

enter image description here

This utility can relocate the following shell folders:

Desktop, Favorites, My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, Send To, Shared Documents, Shared Music, Shared Pictures, Shared Video, Start Menu, Startup, Temporary Internet Files, Common Startup, Common Desktop.

Folder Redirector is freeware and portable (no installation required).

If you want move the entire user profile, here's a tutorial:

How to rename or move a User Profile folder?

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hmmm. so option #1, but not limited to "My Documents". nice find. – quack quixote Jan 5 '10 at 14:01
well, it saves you from 'hacking' the registry. – Molly7244 Jan 5 '10 at 14:02
well, my machete's always sharpened and by the computer just in case. but for option #2 i was hoping the mount-to-folder-name of the data drive would let me avoid any actual registry hacking. – quack quixote Jan 5 '10 at 14:13
maybe JUNCTION.EXE is for you: – Molly7244 Jan 5 '10 at 14:16
that's the tech, yeah. mountvol.exe comes with WinXP and does the same thing, and you can do it within the Disk Administration MMC.. so junction.exe itself isn't necessary. – quack quixote Jan 5 '10 at 15:14

Personally, I always use option 1: I move the location of the My Documents folder to d:\data.

I've actually never thought of doing it like option 2. I think it is possible though.

I wouldn't do it that way though, because when your system gets corrupted by a virus or anything, it's possible that the users registry hive or other user specific settings are also corrupted. Then when you would re-install windows, and apply the same trick (connect c:\documents and settings\ to the old settings on the d drive), windows would possibly be corrupted again.

I prefer starting totally clean again (i.e. only backup/restore the data, not the settings).

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hmmm. hadn't thought of virus-infected user registries; that's a fair point. i generally concur with your fresh-start approach, for my own systems, but it's always nice to have the previous settings available -- so you don't have to recreate all your firefox bookmarks, for example. – quack quixote Jan 5 '10 at 13:21
@~quack: ==> that's what I use for bookmarks ;-) – fretje Jan 5 '10 at 13:48

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