Technology Advice by Ryan Taylor Adams

Moving the “Users” Folder in Windows Vista Or Windows 7 to a New Drive

March 9th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Printer Friendly Version


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Windows Vista and Windows 7 include a “Users” folder (default C:\Users) under which all user profile folders are created. This is very much like the “Documents and Settings” folder found in previous versions of Windows. Since each user’s profile folder contains their “My Documents”, “Music”, “Videos”, and “AppData” folders –just to name a few– it doesn’t take long for the Users folder to expand in size. This can become an issue if you have Windows (and therefore the Users folder) installed on a small capacity solid state drive. You may also notice a slow down when manipualting files in the Users folder (particularly when copying data over a network) as the hard drive seeks for all the data. A solution to both of these problems is to move the Users folder to a different drive.

To move the Users folder, you’ll need a way to boot into the Windows System Recovery Mode (previously know as the Recovery Console) and you will want to have a recent backup of your important files. Obviously, you will also need a second hard drive to which you will move the Users folder. Once you are ready:

  1. Before doing anything, make sure you have a backup of your computer AND that the built-in Administrator account is enabled and accessible. These two things will ensure you can recover from any problems that may arise.
  2. Physically install the second hard drive in your computer.
  3. Turn your computer on, and use the built in Disk manager or a 3rd party partitioning tool to create a new NTFS partition on the drive. I would recommend you also give the volume a label.
  4. Make note of the drive letters assigned to both your primary hard drive and the newly installed hard drive.
  5. Reboot your computer with the Windows Vista/7 install CD in your computer’s drive.
  6. Boot with the Win7 Install DVD, choose language, etc., and hit Next.
  7. On the next screen, choose “Repair your computer”.
  8. Make sure that Windows 7 is listed as one of the installed OS’s available for recovery, and that it’s selected and then press next.
  9. Choose “Command Prompt” on the next screen.
  10. Type in the drive letter usually assigned to your primary hard drive, followed by a colon (for example, “C:”) and press enter.
  11. Type “dir” and press enter. This will give you a list of all the files and folders on the C: drive, as well as show you the volume label.
  12. Look at what is listed to ensure the C: drive is your primary drive. You should see “Windows” and “Program Files” in addition to the “Users” folder. If C: is not the correct drive, repeat steps 9-11 for the D:, E:, F:, etc. drives until you find the correct one.
  13. Repeat steps 9-11 looking for the newly installed drive. The directory listing should be empty (as there is nothing on the drive yet) and the volume label you entered in step 2 will be shown. Repeat steps 9-11 for the D:, E:, F:, etc. drives until you find the correct drive letter.
  14. Now type “robocopy /copyall /mir /xj C:\Users D:\Users” replacing “C:” with your computers original drive and “D:” with the newly installed secondary drive. Press enter.
  15. Wait for the copy process to complete; it may take some time depending on how much data must be copied. Once completed, make sure no errors were reported (though ~31 files should have been “skipped”).
  16. Now you will need to type “c:” (or what ever drive letter your original drive is) and press enter.
  17. Now type “rename Users Users_old” and press enter. This will rename the original Users folder to serve as a backup.
  18. Now type “mklink /J c:\Users d:\Users” replacing “C:” with your computers original drive as seen in the System Recovery Mode console (found in step12) and “D:” with the newly installed secondary drive letter as seen in Windows (found in step 4). Press enter.
  19. Finally, type “exit” and press enter.
  20. You can then click the button to restart your computer.
  21. Remove the Windows Vista/7 CD and allow your computer to boot up normally.

That should be it.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Ryan // May 13, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    I need to do this on server 2008. Being that Vista is essential a Desktop version of Server 2008 and 7 is a Desktop version of 2008r2, this should still work right?

  • 2 Ryan Adams // May 13, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    This should work for any version of Windows that uses the “Users” folders to hold user profiles. I would be careful on a server product though, as depending on how it is setup(for example if it is a DC), you may not be able to recover from a problem.