There are times when redirecting or moving a user profile off of the boot drive is necessary or just something that people want to do. This article is going to look at one method of how to move user data to a new location when using Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1. Before I get into how to redirect the data, I am going to discuss the two main reasons that people may choose to move their user data to another location.
One of the biggest reasons I have seen people choose to redirect their user data for is to protect their data in the event of hard drive failure or operating system corruption. The other major reason is because of data storage concerns resulting from lack of space on the hard drive. For example, on my desktop and laptop computers I use solid state drives (SSDs) as the boot drive where the operating system is installed. Because the storage capacities of SSDs have not caught up to standard hard drives capacities yet (and because the price for the larger capacity SSDs is too expensive), I choose to use my SSDs as my boot drive where the operating system is installed. SSDs provide faster boot and response times. I use my SSDs as the installation location for some of my games as those games need the faster response times an SSD is capable of. This results in me not having enough room for all of my personal data on the SSDs. As such, I used the method I am going to describe below to redirect most of the folders from my user profile to a different hard drive. This has the added bonus of helping protect me from losing my data if the SSDs have issues or if the operating system gets corrupted. When redirecting user profile folders, the folders can be redirected to a server location or to another location on the same computer. Redirecting user profiles folders cannot be done for the entire user profile folder. The majority of the folders within the profile can be redirected to the new location but each folder within the user profile has to be done separately. Some third-party applications will add folders to the user profile folder. From what I have seen so far, these folders usually cannot be moved to the new location.
Redirecting a user’s folders within their profile also requires that the user be logged in on their profile. Other users, even administrator accounts, are unable to move folders other than their own profiles. System created profiles such as the Public profile cannot have their folders relocated. Depending on how much data is in the user profile folder being moved, the process can either be quick or it may take as long time if there is a lot of data in the folder. My recommendation is to redirect the folders within the user profile immediately after creating the user account or immediately after installing Windows but before copying user data back into the folders so that the time needed can be minimized.
Redirecting Folders Within a User Profile to a New Location
To redirect or move the folders in the user profile folder, please use the following steps:
1. Open File Explorer using the icon in the taskbar as shown below.
2. Double-click on Local Disk (C as shown below.
3. Double-click on the Users Folder.
4. Double-click on the user account that that will have its folders redirected. In this example, I will be redirecting the Ralby_2 profile folders.
5. After double-clicking the user account, another set of folders will open in the next screen. These are the folders we will be moving. There might be folders that cannot be moved but that depends on what folders are in the folder. Right-click on one of the folders and click on Properties. If the folder can be moved, there will be a tab called Location. If there is not a Location tab, you will need to try the next folder in the list.
6. Click on the Location tab to show the window in the image below.
7. In the image above, the current folder location is listed as C:\Users\Ralby_2\Contacts. Beneath that path are 3 buttons. The first button will restore the default path from another location back to the system default location on the C:\ drive. The Find Target button will load a File Explorer window showing the location using the folder path in the text field above it. We want the Move button in this case as we will be moving the folder to a new location. Click on the Move button and a File Explorer window will open.
8. After File Explorer is open, browse to the location where the folder from the user profile will be moved. In this case, I am going to use D:\Users\Ralby_2 where I have previously created a Users folder and within it, my profile folder of Ralby_2. Because the folder name that needs moved is named Contacts, I will need to create a new folder within Ralby_2 called Contacts. After creating the folder, click on the Select Folder button in the window.
9. After selecting the folder location, the Properties window should show the new path such as the path in the image below. Click on Apply to perform the move of the folder and the data in it.
10. After clicking Apply, the following window will appear. Click on the Yes button to allow all of the files from the old location to be moved to the new location.
11. Click the OK button to close the Properties window.
To move the remaining folders to the new location, repeat steps 5 – 11 above.
Restoring Folders back to the Default Location
To restore folders back to the original location, go to the new location and right-click on the folder to get to the Properties as we did above to move them initially. Instead of clicking on the Move button, click on Restore Default and a window like in step 10 above will appear. Click on the Yes button again to restore the folder to its original location. Again, this process has to be done for each folder that was moved.
Moving or redirecting folders within the user profile can be a life saver if the boot drive fails or the operating system becomes corrupted. Moving user data like this is not a replacement for backing up data but it can help in protecting the data from being lost because of boot drive or operating system problems. As always, I hope this information helps. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them below or email me using the link in my bio.