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

Article translations Article translations
Article ID: 314843 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q314843
For a Microsoft Windows 2000 version of this article, see 236621.

Expand all | Collapse all

On This Page

SYMPTOMS

If you try to move or rename the Documents and Settings folder in Windows XP, you may receive the following error message:
Documents and Settings is a Windows system folder and is required for Windows to run properly. It cannot be moved or renamed.

RESOLUTION

To specify a different folder for the Documents and Settings folder during installation, follow these steps:
  1. Run Winnt.exe or Winnt32.exe by using the /unattend option, and then insert the following entry into the Unattend.txt file, where z:\foldername is the path and folder name you want:
    [GuiUNattended]
    ProfilesDir = z:\foldername
  2. Install Windows. The path that you included in the Unattend.txt file is used instead of the default Documents and Settings folder.

STATUS

This behavior is by design.

MORE INFORMATION

NOTE: The following section provides information about a configuration that Microsoft does not support. We provide this information for informational purposes only; Microsoft makes no guarantee that this configuration functions properly.

WARNING: Microsoft strongly recommends against renaming any system folder. Catastrophic system failure or an unstable computer can result from renaming system folders. If you use either of the following procedures, make sure that you first back up the system.

To rename or move the Documents and Settings folder, use the appropriate method.

To move only user-specific data

Important This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows

NOTE: This method does not relocate any key Windows components. Use this method if you require only user-specific data to be moved.

After you install Windows XP, to specify a folder other than the Documents and Settings folder for a particular user's data, follow these steps:
  1. Identify the user's profile path. You can identify the profile path either by user security ID (SID) or by user path settings. The user SID method is preferred.

    To identify the user's profile path by the user SID

    1. Use the Getsid tool from the Windows Server Resource Kit to obtain the SID. At a command prompt, use the following syntax:
      getsid \\ComputerName UserName \\ComputerName UserName
      For example:
      getsid \\windowsxp joedoe \\windowsxp joedoe
      The results look something like this:
      = The SID for account WINDOWSXP\joedoe is S-1-5-21-1708537768-1993962763-1957994488-1003
    2. After you obtain the user SID, start Registry Editor (Regedit.exe or Regedt32.exe), and then select the user SID under the following registry key:
      HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

    To identify the profile path by the user's path settings

    1. Log on to the computer as the user, and then type set at a command prompt. Note the setting for UserProfile, and then quit the command prompt.
    2. Log on to the computer as an administrator.
    3. Use Registry Editor to add the UserProfile setting to the following registry key:
      HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
    4. Click the registry key, and then click Find on the Edit menu.
    5. In the Find box, type the value of the UserProfile setting, and then click Find Next.
  2. In the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList registry key, change the ProfileImagePath value to reflect the new path that you want to use, and then quit Registry Editor.
  3. Log on to the computer as the user, type set at a command prompt, and then verify that the path has changed.

Moving the entire folder

NOTE: This method does relocate key Windows components. Use this method only if you require the Documents and Settings folder to be moved or renamed and you cannot use the Unattend.txt file to change the name during installation.

To specify a different folder for the entire Documents and Settings folder, including key system components, follow these steps:
  1. Log on to the computer as an administrator, and then create a new folder.
  2. In the current Documents and Settings folder, on the Tools menu, click Folder Options, and then click the View tab.
  3. Under Advanced settings, click Show hidden files and folders, and then click to clear the Hide extensions for known file types and Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) check boxes.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Click and drag all the folders in the Documents and Settings folder to copy them to the new folder, except for the folder for the currently logged-on administrator.
  6. Log off and then log back on, using a different administrator account from the one that you just logged off from.
  7. Open the Documents and Settings folder again, and then copy the profile of the administrator that you just logged off from to the new folder. This extra step is needed because you cannot copy the profile of the account that is currently logged on.
  8. Log off the computer, and then again log on to the computer as an administrator.
  9. Start Registry Editor, and then click Find on the Edit menu.
  10. Type documents and settings, and then click Find Next.
  11. For every registry key or value that contains the original path, replace the value data or rename the value or registry key to the new path.IMPORTANT: You must complete this change in the registry for every instance of the original path, or your computer may not start. It is imperative that you update all registry keys and values with the new path.

  12. Restart the computer. You can now safely remove the original Documents and Settings folder.

Properties

Article ID: 314843 - Last Review: December 22, 2004 - Revision: 1.5
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Keywords: 
kbenv kberrmsg kbprb kbui KB314843

Give Feedback

 

Contact us for more help

Contact us for more help
Connect with Answer Desk for expert help.
Get more support from smallbusiness.support.microsoft.com