A new SSD - Moving the Users Folder in Windows 7 to a different drive

By YellowOnline on Saturday 12 March 2011 16:09 - Comments (14)
Category: Windows, Views: 7.782

All one needs to never be bored is a fulltime job, a near perfect girlfriend and a great computer. To the latter I added an SSD a few days ago and while I was working on it anyway, I took the opportunity to disassemble it, clean all parts, re-assemble it and reinstall the OS with all of the extras I need (WAIK, SDK, MUIs, RSAT, etc.).


http://tweakers.net/ext/f/A6cWJnPhv3f0jrvyhQc9x9wz/full.jpg
I've never been good at cable management...

Now that I have an SSD, there are some considerations to take in my setup. There's some obvious tweaking involved like alignment and disabling a few unnecessary services (eg. SuperFetch), but most importantly: for the first time in years I would end up with disk space problems.


http://tweakers.net/ext/f/8QKE9EYR9fOwcDfgsZPRql9n/full.png
I'm not used to disk space problems

Why? Because the drive is 120GB, in reality 115GB. Take about 20GB for both the hibernation and the page file, and suddenly I have a drive of less than 100GB that should store Windows, Program Files and the Users folder.

I still don't understand why you can't just choose a location for your Users folder like you can in any other OS. True: you can work with libraries in W7, but even then there's quite some files left in the Users folder. My old Users folder, without the real data, turned out to be about 30GB. I really have a lot of applications and they all stack data in users profiles. I do not want this: I want to move the whole Users folder; ie. my profile, my girlfriend's profile, the Public profile and the Default profile; to my RAID storage. But how?

It took me a few days to find a solution that works, doesn't forget about anything and doesn't involve post-installation registry tweaking that you might regret afterwards. Yes - I fucked up my system twice so I know why I say this :-)


Most solutions I found on the net involved moving the files from the C-drive to another location and altering the ProfileList registry key.

Problem number one turned out to be copying all the system files from one drive to the other without losing some of their special properties. Robocopy was most often used, but if you - like me - use the /COPYALL command without making an exception for junction points you end up with a nested folder structure like this:



code:
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D:\Users\Default\Local\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data\Application Data


I've seen some problems with folders or file that are hard to believe in my lifetime, but I can assure you this one took me a lot of work to delete. If you want to move files like these: there's a switch to exclude Junction Points.


Robocopy did lose some properties it seemed, so in the end I used SyncToy (can be downloaded at the MS website) and it did the job perfectly. When I wanted to login to another account, however, the User Profile Service service could not be loaded.. Unfortunately it still didn't work after restoring the registry to its previous state, so I desperately searched for another plan. If possible, a plan that doesn't involve moving any system files but just installing them at the proper location in the first place.


Of course, like most solutions for these kinds of problems, the answer is an unattended install. You can use a program like nLite (I forgot the name of the W7 version) or the official WAIK. The former, however, does not support this operations; and the latter is very complicated, surely if you're not planning to deploy your image company-wide. There's no reason to invest hours in tuning an image for a single install.

Although badly documented, there is a way of doing it properly without the pain of WAIK: the audit mode. A mode mostly used by OEM manufacturers to enhance the OOBE. A more or less step by step guide, only for brand new installations:


1. Install the OS but stop at the screen where you need to create a user. Press Ctrl+Shift+F3 and the system will restart in Audit Mode.

http://tweakers.net/ext/f/nCcF51BFV2rTzfUD8Z7lIOoZ/full.png

2. In Audit Mode, create this XML-file and save it somewhere:


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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend">
    <settings pass="oobeSystem">
        <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64" publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS" xmlns:wcm="http://schemas.microsoft.com/WMIConfig/2002/State" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
            <FolderLocations>
                <ProfilesDirectory>d:\Users</ProfilesDirectory>
                <ProgramData>d:\ProgramData</ProgramData>
            </FolderLocations>
        </component>
    </settings>
    <cpi:offlineImage cpi:source="wim:f:/sources/install.wim#Windows 7 ULTIMATE" xmlns:cpi="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:cpi" />
</unattend>

Do change the code according to your setup: processorArchitecture is obviously different on x86; and the reference to the DVD-drive near the end need to have your DVD-drive letter - not mine (F:). Here you also choose where to put you Users and ProgramData directories. It is the D-drive in my case - again: change this if it is different on your system.


3. Sysprep: open a command prompt as Administrator, go to the sysprep folder (C:\Windows\system32\sysprep) and type:


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sysprep.exe /audit /reboot /unattend:D:\MoveItBaby.xml

Change D:\MoveItBaby.xml to the full path of your XML of course. After running this command the computer will reboot, but back into Audit Mode. Now you can finally click on the OK button to finish Audit Mode and let the system reboot a last time.

http://blogs.technet.com/blogfiles/askcore/WindowsLiveWriter/AutomatingtheOOBEprocessduringWindowsSer_8D7B/clip_image004_thumb.jpg

4. Finish the installation as usual. Any profiles will be created on the custom location.

http://tweakers.net/ext/f/yOvuzwfsHHECwYKfW5mzYEXk/full.png

5. One little tweak for software that uses - vade retro satanas! - hard-coded paths is to create symbolic links. Open a command prompt as Administrator and enter the following lines (adapted to your situation):


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mklink /d C:\Users D:\Users
mklink /d C:\ProgramData D:\ProgramData


---

So, how is my SSD? Let's show some benchmarks:


My previous HD now serving as VM repository and OS-backup disk
http://tweakers.net/ext/f/GYOlygoGsWDzKgbYslSUAqKx/full.png

My backup hard disk (I have off-site back-ups too, don't worry)
http://tweakers.net/ext/f/6e8bTfglrnxLHPEWktazjavk/full.png

My RAID5 data array
http://tweakers.net/ext/f/JIc8CY12QOQnoy5ZlmUIeWCZ/full.png

My new SSD
http://tweakers.net/ext/f/35GtFruYumAS5XKKe0QLooDz/full.png

Even though I do not reach the manufacturer's specs (350 MBps - perhaps because of my motherboard's limits), I still have a great performance boost as compared to any hard disk or my RAID.

Volgende: Aalst 03-'11 Aalst
Volgende: Taboes in bed deel II: Remmingen van de vrouw - een gastblogpost 02-'11 Taboes in bed deel II: Remmingen van de vrouw - een gastblogpost

Comments


By Tweakers user RobIII, Saturday 12 March 2011 17:46

I still don't understand why you can't just choose a location for your Users folder like you can in any other OS
You can: Folder redirection.

[Comment edited on Saturday 12 March 2011 17:48]


By Tweakers user YellowOnline, Saturday 12 March 2011 17:53

Binnen een domein ja, maar hoe moet ik dat lokaal zien? Een lokale map sharen en daarheen mappen, dmv. een of andere policy?

In onze eigen organisatie doen we dat (enfin, de mannen van de back-end; ik ben front-end), maar dat is een oplossing die ik niet voor thuis zou overwegen.

[Comment edited on Saturday 12 March 2011 17:54]


By Tweakers user Spetsnaz, Saturday 12 March 2011 17:59

Vraag me dan af wat je allemaal op je C zet als 120GB te weinig is, ik draai al 1,5 jaar Windows 7 op een 40GB en heb nog steeds 15GB vrij zonder er moeite voor te doen. 8)7

By Tweakers user YellowOnline, Saturday 12 March 2011 18:10

Spetsnaz wrote on Saturday 12 March 2011 @ 17:59:
Vraag me dan af wat je allemaal op je C zet als 120GB te weinig is, ik draai al 1,5 jaar Windows 7 op een 40GB en heb nog steeds 15GB vrij zonder er moeite voor te doen. 8)7
Program Files + Windows is momenteel al 30GB met mijn basis installatie - en mijn debugging symbols zitten daar niet eens bij (3GB, op andere schijf gezet).

Reken er 20GB bij voor hibernate en paging en je zit al aan 50GB. Als je er dan nog wat extra programma's en AppData bij gooit (Steam reken ik trouwens niet mee, die staat op de D: en is alleen al 300GB) dan zit je toch al in de buurt van de meeste SSDs (80GB+).

By Tweakers user Spetsnaz, Saturday 12 March 2011 18:45

Vreemd heb hibernate en paging hier ook gewoon aanstaan maar kom niet boven de 25GB gebruik waarvan 5,3GB voor program files en heb toch aardig wat programma's (geen games) ge´nstalleerd staan.

[Comment edited on Saturday 12 March 2011 18:46]


By Tweakers user Tsurany, Saturday 12 March 2011 18:58

Cable management jeweet, is nie duur!

By Tweakers user YellowOnline, Saturday 12 March 2011 19:01

Spetsnaz wrote on Saturday 12 March 2011 @ 18:45:
Vreemd heb hibernate en paging hier ook gewoon aanstaan maar kom niet boven de 25GB gebruik waarvan 5,3GB voor program files en heb toch aardig wat programma's (geen games) ge´nstalleerd staan.
Zoals je ziet op mijn eerste afbeelding kom ik al aan 63GB na een clean install. Ik heb dan ook veel software en veel MUIs. Een snel lijstje:


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Hola, ik ben Primal Script vergeten!

[Comment edited on Saturday 12 March 2011 19:03]


By Tweakers user Spetsnaz, Saturday 12 March 2011 19:29

Eigenlijk bijna hetzelfde (minder zelfs) als wat ik heb ge´nstalleerd maar ik zie de boosdoener al: VMware workstation, met vmware images gaat de ruimte hard achteruit. :Y)

[Comment edited on Saturday 12 March 2011 19:31]


By Tweakers user Aham brahmasmi, Saturday 12 March 2011 19:47

YellowOnline wrote on Saturday 12 March 2011 @ 18:10:
[...]

Reken er 20GB bij voor hibernate en paging
Gebruik je hibernate dan? Je kunt de sleep mode gewoon gebruiken zonder hibernate. Ik weet niet hoeveel geheugen je hebt, maar als je bv. 8GB ram hebt scheelt het alweer 8GB als je hibernate uitschakelt.

Sinds ik een SSD heb start mijn systeem zo snel op dat ik hibernate sowieso een beetje overbodig vind. Als je het vaak gebruikt zorgt het ook wel voor extra slijtage, aangezien je elke keer dat je hibernate vele GB's wegschrijft.

[Comment edited on Saturday 12 March 2011 19:50]


By Tweakers user i-chat, Saturday 12 March 2011 20:46

oei oei, je pagefile op je ssd - NOT DONE! - je page file is constant in beweging, om wear te voorkomen zou ik die dus weghalen naar je gewone schijf, als je op got had gezocht had je overigens een topic van mijn hand kunnen vinden (waar over ook al eens over dit onderwerk is gepraat, je zou bijv gebruik kunnen maken van junctionpoints in c:\users\ naar bijv d:\userdata\ ...

By Tweakers user THX, Saturday 12 March 2011 21:01

Sowieso hibernate uitzetten via commandprompt (als admin): powercfg -h off

Ik neem aan dat je je VM's op de e-schijf zet?

Heb je verder binnen Windows7 de ShadowCopies en System Restore settings kleiner ingesteld?

Ongetwijfeld programmeer je, want wat moet je anders met allerlei MUI's en Symbols...

By Tweakers user YellowOnline, Saturday 12 March 2011 21:21

Spetsnaz wrote on Saturday 12 March 2011 @ 19:29:
Eigenlijk bijna hetzelfde (minder zelfs) als wat ik heb ge´nstalleerd maar ik zie de boosdoener al: VMware workstation, met vmware images gaat de ruimte hard achteruit. :Y)
Maar neen: zoals gezegd hebben mijn images een aparte schijf. Als ik die op de SSD zou zetten dan was 120GB zeker te klein ;)
Aham brahmasmi wrote on Saturday 12 March 2011 @ 19:47:
[...]


Gebruik je hibernate dan? Je kunt de sleep mode gewoon gebruiken zonder hibernate. Ik weet niet hoeveel geheugen je hebt, maar als je bv. 8GB ram hebt scheelt het alweer 8GB als je hibernate uitschakelt.

Sinds ik een SSD heb start mijn systeem zo snel op dat ik hibernate sowieso een beetje overbodig vind. Als je het vaak gebruikt zorgt het ook wel voor extra slijtage, aangezien je elke keer dat je hibernate vele GB's wegschrijft.
Ja, ik gebruik hibernate omdat mijn PC heropstarten door de RAID-controller hÚÚl erg lang duurt. Dat ding heeft drie Ó vier minuten nodig om te initialiseren. Over die extra slijtage doe ik niet paranoide.
i-chat wrote on Saturday 12 March 2011 @ 20:46:
oei oei, je pagefile op je ssd - NOT DONE! - je page file is constant in beweging, om wear te voorkomen zou ik die dus weghalen naar je gewone schijf, als je op got had gezocht had je overigens een topic van mijn hand kunnen vinden (waar over ook al eens over dit onderwerk is gepraat, je zou bijv gebruik kunnen maken van junctionpoints in c:\users\ naar bijv d:\userdata\ ...
Dat is jouw mening :> Ik ben er van overtuigd dat er weinig dingen zijn die minder goed staan op een SSD dan het page file - dat is meteen ook de mening van MS terzake. Er wordt relatief weinig weggeschreven naar een pagefile: per schrijfbewerking zijn er ongeveer 40 leesbewerkingen: bereken je winst.
THX wrote on Saturday 12 March 2011 @ 21:01:
Sowieso hibernate uitzetten via commandprompt (als admin): powercfg -h off

Ik neem aan dat je je VM's op de e-schijf zet?

Heb je verder binnen Windows7 de ShadowCopies en System Restore settings kleiner ingesteld?

Ongetwijfeld programmeer je, want wat moet je anders met allerlei MUI's en Symbols...
Hibernate houd ik dus, cf. supra. Iedereen heeft de post maar half gelezen denk ik want ik zet inderdaad VMs op een andere schijf ;)

Aan VSS ben ik niet aangeweest, maar SYstem Restore is uitgeschakeld. Dat is nu echt een feature dat ik niet gebruik - dat doe ik zelf wel met Acronis zo nodig.

Ik script vooral in een MUI-omgeving met PoSh. Die symbols zijn in de eerste plaats nodig om dumps te verwerken.

[Comment edited on Saturday 12 March 2011 21:47]


By Tweakers user Torched, Sunday 13 March 2011 16:48

i-chat wrote on Saturday 12 March 2011 @ 20:46:
oei oei, je pagefile op je ssd - NOT DONE! - je page file is constant in beweging, om wear te voorkomen zou ik die dus weghalen naar je gewone schijf, als je op got had gezocht had je overigens een topic van mijn hand kunnen vinden (waar over ook al eens over dit onderwerk is gepraat, je zou bijv gebruik kunnen maken van junctionpoints in c:\users\ naar bijv d:\userdata\ ...
Juist omdat die pagefile constant in beweging is wil je juist dat je er zo snel mogelijk bij kan ?

Net zoals userdata. Maargoed als je inderdaad een grote windowsinstall hebt dan moet je inderdaad dingen gaan schuiven omdat grote ssd's eigenlijk nog veel te duur zijn.

By Tweakers user terje7601, Monday 14 March 2011 11:54

A very elegant solution to the problem. Thanks for sharing :)

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