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Here is simple task I'm trying to achieve:

I need to migrate user profile from old PC to new PC.

What I got:

  • Hard drive from old Windows 7 PC
  • New Windows 7 PC

I can't use Windows Easy Transfer because old PC is gone.

What I've done (on new PC):

  • Created new_user account
  • Logged in as new_user to initialize profile
  • Rebooted
  • Logged in as Administrator and copied profile from old PC's hard drive to C:\Users\old_profile
  • Changed permissions of C:\Users\old_profile: Added new_user account with Full Access
  • Changed new_user's ProfileImagePath key in registry: [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList] to C:\Users\old_profile
  • Loaded hive C:\Users\old_profile\ntuser.dat and added new_user account with Full Access
  • Rebooted
  • Logged in as new_user

From the first look things were in place, but when I click any document on the Desktop - it prompts "File not found / Invalid location". When I try to click Start->Computer it prompts "explorer.exe Access Denied". EDIT: I can read and run any file from Task Manager, except for explorer.exe

An old PC had only C: drive and all files were kept only under profile directory.

Did I forget something?

Thanks.

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  • Where does this C:\Users\old_profile\ntuser.dat file come from? I don't have one.
    – Merchako
    Jun 16 '17 at 8:55
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+50

Solution is 1 extra step:

Load hive C:\Users\old_profile\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\UsrClass.dat and add new_user account with Full Access permissions.

As the result: User Profile is migrated exactly like it was on the old computer. Without any utilities used. =)

UPDATE (after 4 years): I started using a free tool User Profile Manager (not User Profile Wizard!) from ForensiT. It really does everything mentioned above in couple clicks.

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  • 1
    2marklark: Google how to load hive.
    – Alex G
    Jan 6 '15 at 2:00
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    results from Google: technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc732157.aspx
    – marklark
    Jan 6 '15 at 18:14
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    Has anyone gotten this to work on Windows 10? I've tried two times; the first time I copied the old profile with Explorer (with several permission errors which I ignored) and also changed the permissions with Explorer; the second time I restored the profile with the Windows 7 Backup utility (so no permission errors) and changed the permissions by replacing the old SID with SetACL. Both times the Start menu wouldn't open after I logged in with the restored account. Nov 6 '15 at 14:30
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    Clicking on the Start menu caused the following message in the Application event log: Apps 5973: Activation of app Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy!CortanaUI failed with error: Invalid value for registry See the Microsoft-Windows-TWinUI/Operational log for additional information. Nov 6 '15 at 14:37
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    Hi, I'm trying the user profile manager tool you suggested. But I don't see how you can get it to list profiles that exist on an external drive, as is the use case described by the OP. It only lets you copy profiles that the local installation of Windows is already aware of.
    – kLy
    Jul 5 '17 at 7:28
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I used Zinstall for this kind of job, although was transferring from a live old computer, not from a drive (tutorial here in case it helps: http://www.zinstall.com/how-to/how-to-migrate-user-profile-to-new-domain-windows-10-windows-7). In the past, I did use it for a drive transfer, so that should work as well.

Regarding the Windows 10 issue with Start menu not opening after the transfer, here is how to solve it:

  1. Log off completely from the damaged user, and then log on as a different user (e.g. admin)
  2. Delete everything from

C:\Users\ problematic user name \AppData\Local\TileDataLayer\Database\

  1. Restart

The start menu will now open.

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