Windows – Moving users folder on Windows Vista to another partition – bad idea


I am aware of two questions – one here and one on serverfault which ask HOW to do this. I even provided answers myself, having done it a few months back.

But now I'm having second thoughts.

My plan was to be able to backup and restore system and user data independently. But I obviously wasn't thinking straight at the time, because there is NOT a clear dividing line between system and user data. I realised this recently when I wanted to backup the partition with the /Users folder in. The process couldn't access ntuser.dat* files.

So if I suddenly lost my disk, restoring just the system partition wouldn't help at all.

Given the amount of time I invested in doing this, I think I'm just going to wait for the Windows 7 upgrade before I start over, but in the meantime: Is there any reason why this is NOT a bad idea?

Best Answer

It's a perfectly good plan. However as you noted ntuser.dat is located in your user folder. This file is where all your registry settings are located, you can see it using regedit and then look at HKEYCURRENTUSER.

ntuser.dat will be held open as long as that user is logged in. This means that you cannot copy it as a regular file, you need to use a backup program that uses the shadow copy service to be able to backup that file as well. Alternativley you can run the backup logged in as another user.

I wouldn't call ntuser.dat a system file since your system is perfectly functioning even if you remove it, You will have trouble using that specific user account but that's all.

All in all, I don't see any real downsides from this setup.