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I am anxiously getting ready at long last to to carry out a clean install (using custom install option) from Vista to Windows-7 Home Premium 64bit with the free upgrade I received late October.

For my Vista system I successfully set-up last Summer a multi-partitions scheme with Users and Program Data on a a different partition than the operating system. See this link link below, and its subsequent links in my comment for details.

I was planning a similar set-up for Windows 7, a little more streamlined, with OS, Program Files on C:, Users and Program Data on D:, and TV media recording on a separate partition.

Reading the Question submitted by Benjol, I am second guessing too.

Is moving Users and Program Data on a different partition than the default primary partition with OS and Program Files such a good idea?

The couple of people I talked to at the official Microsoft Windows 7 booth at CES 2010 gave the same answer to the intention of moving the Users profile folder to another partition.
In a nutshell, they all told me that they used to do this in XP and less in Vista but not anymore with Windows 7...

"It is stable, after two months still no problem" I had the feeling it was a scripted answer to emphasize how Windows 7 is so stable and efficient... (Will Windows-7 system not become bugged down over the course of several months to a year or two? Only time will tell)

Long story short, I share the same view than Benjol expressed with respect to being "able to backup and restore system and user data independently." I just received a 2TB usb2, eSATA external hard drive as a back-up drive, which includes NTI Shadow 4 (4.1.0.150) for back-up solution. I took note of the issue with NTUSER.DAT and I will read more about Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) for Windows 7.

I am willing to put the effort if placing Users and Program Data on a different partition would allow to restore a fresher OS+Program image when the system gets bugged down.

Questions:

  • Is it such a bad idea?

  • What is the "easy route" referred by Benjol in his post?

  • Is it to just relocate folders to another partition using the Folder property tool?

(It is not practical for several users and might not provide a straightforward restore process of just OS and Program Files when needed.)

I am starting to learn about Windows 7 libraries.

  • Would Windows 7 libraries be another alternative to achieve this?
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Actually the details of the Multi-partition scheme followed to install Windows Vista 64bit with an Answer file last summer was described in this link: msfn.org/board/… –  Donat Jan 10 '10 at 22:48
    
The link to "Moving users folder on Windows Vista to another partition - bad idea?" is: superuser.com/questions/23598/… –  Donat Jan 10 '10 at 23:42

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The problems involved in moving the Users folder are:

  • Preserving special folders permissions and icons requires a full backup program rather than copy.
  • A backup program would also spare you fiddling around with moving each of Contacts, Desktop, Downloads, Favorites, Links, My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, My Videos, Saved Games and Searches.
  • Relocating these folders via Windows 7 may cause a problem when reinstalling Windows.
  • It's far easier to relocate it symbolically by creating a link on C that points to the other partition.

The procedure as described in Moving your data where you want in Windows Vista:

  • Backup C:\Users using a backup program
  • Restore the C:\Users to your new desired location (example: D:\Users)
  • Start WinPE or Windows Installation disc command prompt
  • Using the command prompt
    1. rmdir /S /Q C:\Users
    2. rmdir "C:\Documents and Settings"
    3. mklink /J C:\Users D:\Users
    4. mklink /J "C:\Documents and Settings" D:\Users
  • Restart

I advice to mind your backups before starting.

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This what I had experimented with last Summer. Although my Program Data folder was defined somehow b y a Junction instead of a Hard link (/D instead of /J). I think it was done during the unattended install... not sure. –  Donat Jan 11 '10 at 8:34
    
Thanks for the link. If I follow your point of view, you'd say that the relocating by creating hard/symbolic link would allow me to achieve what I am after. that is to be able back and restore Windows-7+Programs independently of Users (and Program Data)? –  Donat Jan 11 '10 at 8:37
    
I already have a backup of my full system, which I could use not only to revert back to the current vista system if needed be but also to transfer over the essential user data before re-installed programs with Ninite.com. Thanks again for clarifying this and your suggestions. I will get "craking" for the next day of so. –  Donat Jan 11 '10 at 8:39
    
Yes. The advantage of this method is that you can repeat it if Windows gets hosed down without losing the Users directory. The disadvantages are permissions problems if you ever install another OS than Win7. –  harrymc Jan 11 '10 at 9:04

To answer your last question first, Libraries could be an answer. The gotcha is using software that doesn't understand libraries. That software could default to the My Documents folder if they didn't write their code as Microsoft recommends.

You could redirect folders to another location. For example the Documents folder if you right click over it, there will be a Location tab, there you will have the option to move the documents to another drive. However, you also want to redirect your Favorites, pictures, music and other folders. In Windows 2000 I know there were some group policies to redirect everything, I would imagine Windows 7 has similar policies.

Even since Windows 2000 SP 4 I hadn't used redirection or even saved my data on another partition. One thing I have learn relatively recently is to have a good backup strategy, both for my data and OS. One thing I still have to work on is testing the restore. If you don't test your restore and know it works, you shouldn't count on it.

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Thanks for the answers. As you pointed out and as was eluded by benjol in the original Question posted, the issue if a back-up strategy can allow to restore OS and programs independently from Users data. This is the motivation for me to move Users (and program data) folders on a different partition. I guess, I should find out more what back-up strategies work to allow this. You put your finger on it, you can't count on an untested restore. –  Donat Jan 11 '10 at 0:44

Libraries do NOT actually hold data, they're basically shortcuts to folders. I think they're called "virtual folders" in the past.

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Libraries seems not such an attractive solution for what I want. You are right to point this out. Thanks. –  Donat Jan 11 '10 at 8:20

when I talked about the 'easy route', I meant changing the location of Documents via properties (I haven't actually done it, so I'm not too sure).

Obviously, it is not that 'easy' - because you have to do it independently for documents, images etc., and for each user. But as far as I know, it is the only 'Microsoft recommended' way - in any case it appears to be the only one that they went any way to implementing.

I'm still waiting for the motivation to upgrade...

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I hear you. I have delayed for two month my upgrade but the transition from XP to Vista was not pretty for me, lots of frustating moments. Windows-7 is promising and I'd like to start on the right foot for applications I'd like to evaluate for my project. Yes, relocating via properties for all folder is a mess and not practical. Yesterday at CES 2010, I was told the same, just relocate, there s not need to move the User folder anymore... I am might still give it a go, though. "Merci" Ben for following up. –  Donat Jan 11 '10 at 8:26

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