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?


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

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.

  • What do you mean "Load hive"? – marklark Jan 5 '15 at 19:34
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    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. – Martin von Wittich 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. – Martin von Wittich Nov 6 '15 at 14:37

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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