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How to rename or move a User Profile folder?

Published: August 10, 2005
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Summary

Renaming a user account via Computer Management console or the User Accounts applet does not rename the associated user profile folder. Here is how to manually rename the user profile folder in Windows XP.

(Alternately, you can create a duplicate user profile with a different name.)

Renaming the user profile folder

To rename (or move) the User Profile folder, you may use the following method. This method has been adopted from KB314843, but this page explains in detail how to rename an User account home directory.

Important note

Though you can move or rename the user profile folder, there may be some side effects after using this method. This is because of the reason that there may be some absolute path references (to the old user profile folder) in the registry added by third-party software. Therefore, there may be a loss of functionality in the respective applications.

Thanks to Mr. Jeff Cranston for the above information.

Before modifying the registry, you need to take a full backup, in case you want to Undo the changes or to recover from disasters caused by incorrect registry modifications if any. You may use ERUNT for a full registry backup. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

Rename the User Profile folder using Windows Explorer

  • Logon to an admin account that is not the account being renamed.
  • Open the Documents and Settings folder, by typing this in Start, Run dialog:

%systemdrive%\Documents and Settings

  • The list of folders will be displayed. Select the corresponding folder of the user account that you want to rename.

Example

%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\OldUsername

becomes

%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\NewUsername

Next step is to notify the system that the user profile path has changed.

Changing the ProfileImagePath value in the registry

ProfileImagePath registry value

The ProfileList registry key contains some sub-keys, which are nothing but the list of User Account Security Identifiers (SID). Each of the SID represents an Account. The key is located here:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\ Windows NT \ CurrentVersion \ ProfileList

Identify the SID for your User account, and change the Profile path

  • To know the SID for your user account, you may use the script sidlist.vbs
  • Download the script and run it.  (The User Account names and SIDs will be listed in a log file, and opened automatically.)
  • Note down the SID for your account.
  • Then, in the Registry Editor, select the correct SID that belongs to your user account.
  • In the right-pane, double-click the ProfileImagePath value and change the profile path. ( The ProfileImagePath stores the full path of the User account home folder. )

Example

%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\OldUsername

becomes the following:

%SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\NewUsername

Close Registry Editor, and restart Windows. See if you're able to logon to that user profile successfully. Additionally, to verify if the path has been changed successfully, type SET in the Command Prompt. In case you find any abnormal behavior when running an application, you may undo the above procedure.

Related articles

An error message informs you that you cannot move or rename the Documents and Settings folder

Create a duplicate user profile with a different name

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