I am just about to format my computer as I'm a frequent "clean type of person". The problems while installing Windows is that I always have to manually change location for my user files to d:/user files/{name}/music or videos etc. Now I'm using a ssd drive I would also like my appdata to be moved too that location aswell.

I know this is all possible through registry changes BUT the last time I attempted the relocation. It deleted all files within the target path and created fresh empty directories for my music, my videos etc. How can I accomplish this on a clean install, even logging in as admininistrator prior too any user account creations and point the profile paths to an already existing directory with files in it?

  • The folders are only created upon first login, so logging in beforehand to create the folders another way may not work. I'd suggest logging in as your user to create the folders, logging out and in as Administrator, then using MKLINK to map the folders to their new locations on the bigger drive. It might work. Never tried it though. – user3463 May 4 '12 at 6:42
  • symbolic links was a thought aswell and im glad you mentioned that as it might push me too take that option. I was hoping someone may have a loop hole in it where it wouldnt create the user then folders and overwrite everything... this is a big downfall with windows over linux. because these days (well for me) its rare to have the user files on the system drive, even then its a pain to manually rearrange it all – Edhen May 4 '12 at 7:43
  • what if maybe login and have it create the folder and files then reedit the profile path? would it still clear out the directory and place the folders etc? – Edhen May 4 '12 at 7:45
  • sorry again but would make link work on the users base directory instead of each individual directories? eg. MKLINK d:/users/{username} c:/users/{username} – Edhen May 4 '12 at 7:48
  • Yes it would work on the base folder. – user3463 May 4 '12 at 20:05

For relocation of any User Profile folders as you install Windows, check this excellent tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Unm3VMTMZu4


After some trial and error, it seems that the best method was to install windows, login to the admin during post installation.

Edit the registry @


Then change default, ProfilesDirectory and public to the desired paths.

I had played around with linking both symbolic and junction but for some strange reason it didn't work as expected and kept logging out while trying to log in. Also changing HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/MICROSOFT/WINDOWS NT/CurrentVersion/ProfileList/{profile id} (won't be hard to find when you see where the ProfileImagePath is pointing to) didn't work as expected either after creating the account.

I can't recall the problem but I think it was the same issue as mklink. The failures may have to do with the order I did things etc but in return the above method I had mention works for me, but be careful, if you create an account and that path exists with your files already there, it will wipe it all and create a fresh user directory.

So if you already have a profile at D:\users\{username} and wish windows to use that path for you new installation.. then make sure you rename it first eg D:\users\{username}.old then create the profile and cut and paste the contents from old into the newly created profile path. This will be instant considering the files are located on the same drive.

Now if you do not wish to do this every time you install windows, you can make a quick script too automatically do it for you.

Once Windows has finished installing, it will run any commands that you place in {windowscd}\$OEM$(maybe different for others but I'm not sure)\$$\SETUP\SCRIPTSSETUPCOMPLETE.CMD, then just enter the same process in that file. You may wish to use an usb device for this as CD's aren't writeable and there are plenty off methods out there in how to install windows from usb.

You can change registry settings, create user accounts, rename and move files straight from commands which fits the solution nicely...


I don't think you can change the location of the folders as you install.

Changing the location of your Documents and Download user folders is easy, no need to mess about with the registry. Just go to your user folder and right-click->properties on the folder you wish to move, for instance the Downloads folder, select the Location tab and choose a new location it'll then move the folder and all the programs using your default download location will save to your new location.

You can do that for most of your folders in your profile folder. Sadly you cannot do this on the profile folder itself.

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  • thanks for your answer, as mentioned in my question when i mean manually change location, that was the same way you described. im also a programmer and tech savy, its just i dont want too take the wrong hole again and delete my files likelast time and i can understand why it deleted my files. because windows on creation off a user will also create the folders without consideration off whats already there. I dont have a problem with the registry and in regards to the appdata folder, this wouldnt be possible so it would boil down to registry or symbolic link – Edhen May 4 '12 at 7:41
  • I read somewhere that you should use NTFS Junctions instead of symbolic links as symbolic links can break or something. However when I wiki'ed it it says that Junctions are symbolic links so ye... – Snæbjørn May 4 '12 at 7:59
  • i looked on wiki about junction links and it really doesnt explain the difference that much, but i might do a few dummy experiaments prior to the real thing and find the best solution.. but thanks anyways – Edhen May 4 '12 at 9:45
  • Yes, you can change the location during sysprep. See http://superuser.com/questions/6391/moving-users-folder-on-windows-vista-seven-to-another-partition/451944#451944. – XP1 Jul 22 '12 at 0:15

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