When I set up my old PC with Windows XP Home (SP2) 4 GB were plenty of space.

Some years later with SP3 installed, many many patches later and with several concurrent .net installations that I can`t get rid of I start fighting every time when there gets a new .net patch in.

My idea is to move the folder "\Dokumente und Einstellungen" (\Documents and Settings in English versions) to its own volume.

I already managed this with \Tmp (although I do not remember how I did that).

The problem is - I can`t do this in a running system, since some files there are in use. So how can I achieve it (e.g. by booting the PC with my CentOS 5 plus kernel)?

  • Good question. I could imagine simply movinig the contents by booting another OS from CD or USB, but the problem would be to fix all the links to the existing location (in the registry, app settings etc).
    – jdh
    Feb 29 '12 at 21:30
  • I just looked at what \Tmp looks like under CentOS - this is a soft-link to a path called ".NTFS-3G/Volume{71c7418e-8b28-11da-927e-e660277b3ae3}". I guess that if I could get the soft-link up after the move I will not have to change any path in the registry at all.
    – Nils
    Feb 29 '12 at 21:35
  • an alternative is to not use the documents and settings folder for your files, it's so long anyway.
    – barlop
    Mar 1 '12 at 2:37
  • @barlop sadly this is where %USERPROFILE% points to - and many programs use that variable. Sadly even my Antivirus uses the userprofile-location for "All Users" there - and places tmp-files and virus definition files there. Annoying - but many applications are written that way (and provide no way to change the destination path).
    – Nils
    Mar 3 '12 at 21:36

I don't know how much of this translates back to Windows XP, but I feel like I should mention it. To my understanding, that location can only be changed during installation.

As far as I understand, it's also strongly discouraged.

This setting should be used only in a test environment. By changing the default location of the user profile directories or program data folders to a volume other than the System volume, you will not be able to service your Windows installation. Any updates, fixes, or service packs will fail to be applied to the installation. Microsoft does not recommend that you change the location of the user profile directories or program data folders.

  • I do not want to change the logical location nor the name of that folder. I just want to physically place it onto a different volume. On DOS this would be equvalent to Join. I already have this construction at I:\Tmp - that is a volume-link to S:\
    – Nils
    Mar 3 '12 at 21:45
  • Oh, I see. Don't know about that. Especially under XP. Mar 3 '12 at 21:47

You can do it. Basically what you will need to do is to first copy entire documents and settings folder to new location, and change all instances of documents and settings location in registry to the new location. You can follow the below guide to do it. its not easy, its not hard either.


Dont mind any microsoft tech support article or other people or any resource on the web saying 'cant be done' or 'strongly discouraged' or 'can be done only during installation' etc. These are all wrong. I have moved my documents and settings folder around 1 year ago, and im heavily using this xp installation since for everything ranging from work to gaming, all at the same time and i didnt have any issues.

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