How do I move domain users over to workgroup users without losing old profile data? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I recently set up a WSE 2016 Server for my client. He requires himself and his two colleagues to use a vpn connection to a server, so that they can run petroleum engineering software on their laptops remotely. Although the software is installed locally on their laptops, it needs to authenticate against the licensing software on the server, so that they can actually use the programmes on their laptops. So far, so good.

    My clients' laptops use user profiles which are 'domain' (not local/workgroup) profiles which were at some point connected to a server which has now been decommissioned. So, all their user experiences is stored on the existing domain profiles.

    In order to connect these laptops to a new domain (WSE 2016), it is necessary to 'disconnect' the devices from the old domain (system properties - computer name - change - and select 'Workgroup'). This removes the domain profile account but it does seem to keep all the various user folders, such as Desktop, Documents etc on the C:\Users root. The downside is that it is not possible then to migrate the old domain user profile to the new domain profile, as the old domain profile does not show as an existing account in 'User Accounts'. So, everything has to be re-created manually - Outlook, One Drive, Bookmarks etc.

    Having joined my client's laptop to the new domain, it broke the 'old' domain user profile, which he normally used for all his work. So, he had to recreate his new profile, which took him some time to do, days not hours. I know there are tools to migrate user profiles, domain or workgroup, but he is concerned that joining the other two laptops will cause similar problems, backup or no backup. So, I would rather not go down this route, as he is uncomfortable with it.

    So, thinking of ways around this conundrum, installing Server 2016 in Workgroup mode on the Dell T140 Power Edge WSE 2016 Server, is probably more trouble than its worth. And, even if this route is chosen, it will probably still break the domain profile which the laptops use.

    Another possibility is to set up virtual machines (VirtualBox) or perhaps use the built in functionality of Windows 10 Pro (Hyper-V) to create new instances of W10 Pro on the laptops and join these instances to the domain (WSE 2016). Presumably this would not tamper, alter, break or in any any way interfere with the existing domain profile on the host machine?

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, as I am running out of ideas, and I would like to help them move forward.

    Friday, September 20, 2019 12:08 PM

All replies

  • One other thought is the configuration above supported by Microsoft - a virtual W10 Pro machine joined to a WSE 2016 Server?
    Friday, September 20, 2019 12:30 PM
  • once you create the new profiles you can just copy the contents of the old one to the new one.
    • Edited by Anewton Friday, September 20, 2019 4:00 PM
    Friday, September 20, 2019 4:00 PM
  • The issue you are describing is not unique to Windows Server 2016 Essentials, but rather common when migrating user profiles on Windows. 

    If you are concerned about preserving the contents in the known user profile folders (Documents, Pictures, Videos, etc.), the simplest thing is to simply move everything to the Public user profile, and then move it back again when the new user profiles are created.

    Sunday, September 22, 2019 5:57 PM
  • Thank you all for your feedback.

    I think setting up virtual machines on the laptops and using these instances to join to the domain is probably adding another layer of complexity and cost (buying three more instances of Windows 10 Pro) to the project. So, it is something I probably will not suggest to him,.

    I will probably suggest that if he and his two colleagues can spend about an hour a week or so (on rainy Sundays) recreating these profiles in other user accounts on the laptops, then when they completely reflect the existing ones, the laptops can be joined to the domain without worrying about 'breaking' the existing profiles. It may take a few months but better safe than sorry, as I am informed the way that these profiles are set up at the moment are critical to their business.

    I know in previous iterations of small business server (notably SBS 2011) native tools were available to migrate user profiles across to the domain as well, which is sadly lacking in WSE 2016. But having said that, from past experience, I never found that the profiles were completely intact after joining them to the domain.

    I just wonder though how many technicians take into account existing user profiles when a device is joined to a domain. The problem I faced was that the profiles were linked to an old domain (a server) which was decommissioned some time ago. But it is likely that the same problem would have arisen even if the profile was attached to a Workgroup rather than a domain.

    Sunday, September 22, 2019 10:56 PM
  • HI
    1 when we un-joined the client computer from domain to workgroup, the application(.exe) which were installed on that client computer will not disappear. customer need to copy file to new profile and config outlook profile and download email(without offline .pst) but if he like using office365 owa, i think he only need browser .


    Best Regards
    Andy YOU
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    Thursday, September 26, 2019 11:33 AM