Moving Documents and Settings Folder to a new Drive in Windows XP

I have always thought it was dumb for Windows to put My Documents on the C Drive with the operating system.  Everytime you need to re-install Windows, you have to back up and restore your documents.  The simple solution to this is to move “My Documents to another drive letter (either a different physical disk, or another partition).  I have done this for years, but whenever I re-install Windows, I lose everyting on my Desktop, all of my Favorites, etc.

Recently I have started to move the entire “Documents and Settings” Folder to another drive after installing Windows.  The recommendation is to do this at the time of installation, but it is a pain to do and presents its own challenges in getting it to work right as you can’t always be sure which drive letter Windows is going to assign a given partition upon installation (if there is a USB card reader, it usually takes the next available drive letter before the 2nd hard disk).  Once I have the computer configured and have moved the “Documents and Settings” folder to another drive, and after applying all Windows Updates and before installing any other software (especially Anti-Virus), I create a Ghost Image file of the C Drive that I can restore when Windows starts malfunctioning (you notice I said when, not if Windows starts malfunctioning because if you continue to use it, eventually there will be problems).

When I need to Restore the C Drive, all of my Documents and Windows Setting are still on the separate partition and have not been disturbed.  Sure, the desktop may have links to programs that don’t exist, and the same is true for the Start Menu, but this is a good thing, it reminds me of the programs I had installed when I did the restore.  If I still want to use the program, I can re-install it.  If I don’t want to use the program, I simply delete the link.

Below are the instructions that I follow to move the “Documents and Settings” folder.

The following is based on KB236621 but revised for XP.

1. Open Explorer.
2. Create a new folder called to replace ‘C:\Documents and Settings’ in your desired drive.
3. Create a new profile with administrative permission and call it “move”.
4. Logoff then logon to the “move” account.
5. Copy all the folders inside ‘C:\Documents and Settings\’ (except the ‘LocalService’, ‘NetworkService’, and ‘move’ folders) to the new location. (The LocalService and NetworkService folders will be re-created automatically.)

6. Open a Registry Editor (Tip use a 2nd Party Registry Editor like Registry Toolkit by Funduc Software Inc http://www.funduc.com) and Find & Replace all instances of  “\Documents and Settings\”, including:

‘C:\Documents and Settings\’
‘\Device\HarddiskVolume1\Documents and Settings\’ (This may be different if Windows resides on a different HarddiskVolume)
‘%SystemRoot%\Documents and Settings\’
‘%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\’
‘C:\Docume~1\’
Search Registry for any other entries that may need to be updated by searching for ‘\Docum’ and evaluating all results

7. Shutdown your computer, wait 30 seconds and turn it on.
8. Logon to the ‘move’ account.
9. Repeat step 6.
10. Reboot and logon to your original account.
11. Test by renaming the ‘\Documents and Settings\’ folder in drive C. If you can rename it then it worked!
12. If everything’s OK, you can delete the ‘move’ account you created before.

Here is a link to how to do the same with the ‘User’ Folder in Windows Vista

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