Windows 7 - Relocating My Documents, Profile and Desktop to another Drive.


  • Hi All,

    Has anyone figured out how to relocate:
    • My Documents
    • Profile
    • Desktop
    To another partition or to a network drive. In XP this was nice and easy to do but I still have not figured it out with in Windows 7
    Tuesday, April 07, 2009 9:25 PM

All replies

  • Hi Maclarkson

    If you wish to relocate a profile to another disk or partition, the preferred method is to implement this from a custom installation using the WAIK. (Windows Automated Installation Kit)

    Download: WAIK for Windows 7 Beta

    Download: WAIK for Windows 7 Beta documentation

    Moving single folders is usually as easy as using the Location Tab in the folders properties.

    You might want to wait until the soon to be released Release Candidate for Windows 7 is available. It will be much more stable.

    Hope this helps.

    Thank You for testing Windows 7 Beta

    Ronnie Vernon MVP
    Tuesday, April 07, 2009 11:55 PM
  • I knew this question would have been asked already, thanks for the link.

    In Vista it was recommended not to move the location of user profiles and data due to several known issues, is it safe to say that there is no such concern with Windows 7? This is something I'm very keen to do.


    Thursday, May 28, 2009 8:00 AM
  • I had heard of WIAK however for a novice user this would be a huge overkill for something that should be reasonably simple to achieve.

    KIS - Keep it simple - could really be applied here.

    Two steps in the process of installation that asks:

    Do you have a previous profile location?
    • Yes-Select Location
    • No-Where would you like your profile to be stored-Select Default\Browse
    Do you have a previous location for your documents that you wish to use?
    • Yes-Select location
    • No-Where do you want your documents to be located-Select Default\Browse.
    At the beginning of installing windows 7 you could have an option that allows for a default installation or custom installation

    The custom installation could allow for users to choose windows components such as IIS, Games, etc to be installed.

    WIAK is very good for businesses but it is too much for the single user that keeps their documents stored in a location on a different partition.

    This would by pass the neccesity to become a WIAK expert and learn how to create an automated installation CD.

    Thursday, May 28, 2009 11:34 PM
  • Maybe I'm missing something above but I think the initial question is the one I would like answered.
    I have C: drive as my system drive, and D:drive as my data drive. So if I need to re-install Windows, I don't have to worry about data as that is on another drive. "My Documents" on installation is located on the C: drive. In Vista to change the location to the D: drive all I had to do was right-click on My Documents, select Location and enter D: in the box. So by default all data subsequently went into the folders and sub-folders on the D: drive. If, as Rich says, there are issues with doing this in Vista I haven't hit any yet.

    Using W7's Help doesn't help - it tells you how to do it, but when the instructions are followed the tabs, etc. referred to cannot be found - well, I can't find them!
    Wednesday, August 05, 2009 8:30 PM
  • Begadoc:
    The Help files in Win7 RC were, ah, less-than-complete.  :)
    However, the procedure for moving those folders (Documents, Pictures, etc.) are the same in Win7 as they were in Vista:  open user's home folder > right-click subfolder > Properties > 'Location' tab > Move
    (and, the same rules apply:  only the normally-visible folders may be moved.)

    [If this post helps to resolve your issue, please click the "Mark as Answer" or "Helpful" button at the top of this message. By marking a post as Answered, or Helpful you help others find the answer faster.]
    • Proposed as answer by Ken Seehart Wednesday, August 11, 2010 3:37 AM
    Thursday, August 06, 2009 3:07 AM
  • Thanks for that Chris.

    I've avoided this so far as I got into all sorts of mess doing this on Vista, basically duplicate "documents" folders becuase some apps were (apparently) hard coded to look on the system drive. 

    It was when I was looking for a solution to this issue on Vista that I was advised not to do it becuase of compatibility and upgrade (e.g. service packs) issues with if you set it to another drive in the install script, exactly because system programs were hard coded to use %windir% or %SystemDrive%. As described if you follow the link I posted above.

    It would be nice to know if (1)Win7 does not have the same issues as Vista with duplicate folders and (2)Win7 will not have issues upgrading if I set the location with an install config as described in the original answer.

    I won't be creating dozens of users on my machine so a reliable "move user profile to another drive completely" option would be by far the simplest solution for me.


    • Edited by Gravidar Thursday, August 06, 2009 5:34 AM clarification
    Thursday, August 06, 2009 4:38 AM
  • I was just wondering if you moved your user profile to some other location where would installed programs store their user aplication data?
    Thursday, August 06, 2009 4:46 AM
  • They should, I think, use %USERPROFILE% environment variable which is why I'm looking for a "complete" relocation of user profile data rather than just moving the documents folder.

    EDIT: just remembered there is a %APPDATA% environment variable e.g. "C:\users\tom\AppData\Roaming" and also %LOCALAPPDATA%
    I guess it depends on how the application is coded if it it uses any of these.
    Thursday, August 06, 2009 5:33 AM
  • The full retail RC pro edition for Win7 does not allow My Documents properties to show the relocate/move button-it is greyed out!


    The help area documentation advises how you can locate new document folders on a different drive or partition.
    This is easy to follow and set up in Win 7.
    However one problem is should you make an error, there is no facility to DELETE a new document folder so created, only to CREATE it. Deleting the document on the new partition does not follow through into Win 7 and the entry just sits there! 


    I did latermanage to delete the unwanted document folder, but this was accomplished in the LOCATIONS/Library area and not on the document folder itself. So a learning point is that attacking the file or document, as would be normal in XP, imust instaed change into a flanking attack on the parent library and folder in Win7!!

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 11:59 AM
  • As I may have indicated before Microsoft need to think about what might be easy for the user!!

    Microsoft by not dealing with this problem for the ordnary user are effectively enforcing people to have all of their working folders and profile on the same location as their OS. This is not a good model because as we all know OS's get slower as we install and deinstall programs onto them. Making it a pretty normal thing for people to expect to be able to completely remove and reinstall their OS but still keeping the setting of their profile and their files in tact.

    A simple thing such as asking where they wish to install their profile, their main file repository and even their Programs folder for new installs and the option for using an old profile, repository and program location for previous installs should be a really easy thing to program.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 7:19 AM
  • I agree with you we are not all geeks just users who would like to have control over our own folders. It seem every OS gets worser and worse.




    Thursday, January 20, 2011 2:03 AM
  • I agree, Microsoft thinks that they know the best way to do things.  They are always wrong.  This should be an easy thing to do during the install process.  Every time they upgrade the OS, it becomes less usable.
    Saturday, March 03, 2012 12:38 AM
  • What is the User Profile, and is it advisable to move it off the C drive?      
    Wednesday, May 23, 2012 6:43 PM
  • I want the same thing, AFTER having installed Windows...

    I did some digging in the registry, and found most relevant settings are in Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Volatile Environment: All data in this set that matter are fixed where it comes to the drive letter: HOMEDRIVE is set to C: (the system drive) and all locations are NOT related to %HOMEDRIVE% but mention C: - and the hardcoded path, in stead of referring to % HOMEDRIVE%, %HOMEPATH% and %USERNAME%.

    It's even worse. Search for "C:\Users" you'll find the same almost everywhere - where %USERPROFILE% should have been used to point to the right position. For contrast: Look for USERPROFILE and you'll find this very often - OUTSIDE Windows....

    Since this is volatile data - I guess there is some program (login?) that defines these values, probably from the drive on which Windows is installed - that means you may be able to change these values (by a program - there are quite a lot of them!) but'you would have to redo the change on login. I consider this a workaround that should be avoided, for many reasons.

    IMHO, the right solution would be HOMEDRIVE and HOMEPATH be set in the registry for a user - default the system disk is Ok - and refer to HOMEDIR, HOMEPATH and USERNAME wherever a user-environment is mentioned. Of course, there wqould be a need for a program to make tranfer of a user enviironment from one location to another easy.



    Thursday, July 26, 2012 8:44 PM
  • You can change them with one registry each in

    hkey_current_user\software\microsoft\windows\currentversion\explorer\user shell folders\

    Don't use

    hkey_current_user\software\microsoft\windows\currentversion\explorer\shell folders\

    which is deprecated.  Java based programs like jedit and eclipse will use it if it's there.

    Friday, July 27, 2012 3:05 PM