Relocation of the Users directory and the ProgramData directory to a drive other than the drive that contains the Windows directory

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Article ID: 949977 - View products that this article applies to.
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Summary

This article describes the changes in policy for the relocation of the Users directory and the ProgramData directory to a drive other than the %systemdrive% drive in Windows operating systems.  

Notice

Caution Using the ProgramData setting to redirect folders to a drive other than the system volume will block your ability to upgrade to future versions of Windows.

By changing the default location of the user profile directories or program data folders to a volume other than the system volume, you cannot service your Windows installation. Any updates, fixes, or service packs cannot be applied to the installation. We recommend that you do not change the location of the user profile directories or program data folders. 

More information

%systemdrive% is defined as the drive that contains the Windows directory. There are various reasons why you may want to relocate the Users directory or the ProgramData directory to other drives.

For Windows, the most common reasons are as follows:
  • It is easier to back up data from a single drive and from a drive that contains only user files.
  • It is easier to rebuild the operating system drive on a user’s computer if user data is located on a separate volume. In this case, the drive that contains the Windows directory can be formatted, and Windows can be reinstalled without having to worry about how to remove user data.
For Windows Server, the most common reason is as follows:
  • There are performance improvements when you relocate the Users directory and the ProgramData directory to a drive other than the operating system drive.
For information about how to use the answer file setting, go to the following Microsoft website:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc749305(v=WS.10).aspx

For information about the answer file setting when you are using Windows ADK, go to the following Microsoft website:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/ff715936.aspx (updated)

For more information about the FolderLocation settings in the Windows Vista Unattend.xml file, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
929831 A description of known issues with the FolderLocation settings in the Windows Vista Unattend.xml file
Note If you use the FolderLocations unattend setting to move user data to a location other than the %systemdrive% drive, some servicing components may not be installed. These components may include critical updates, security updates, hotfixes, and service packs. This issue is resolved if you have installed the servicing stack update for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) described in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 937287. Update 937287 is also included in Windows Server 2008.   For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
937287 A software update is available for the Windows Vista installation software feature

Information that is documented in the current release of the Windows AIK and the Windows OPK

The Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) and the Windows OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) for Windows and Windows Server contain documentation warnings that are related to the usage of the ProfileDirectory and ProgramData unattend settings. These are the settings that let you relocate the Users directory and the ProgramData directory to locations other than their default locations. This includes other drives.

These warnings were included before the servicing stack update (update 937287) was available. This update addresses the issue that is discussed in the warning text. Windows AIK and the Windows OPK documentation reads as follows. You cannot upgrade such installations to the next version of Windows.

Setting information from the Windows AIK and Windows OPK documentation
ProfilesDirectory
The ProfilesDirectory setting specifies the path of the user profile folder.
Use this setting to move the user profile folder (typically %SYSTEMDRIVE%\Users) to another location during Setup or Sysprep. The destination path can be on a volume other than the system drive, as long as it meets the following requirements:
It must be on an NTFS volume.
It must not be the path of another operating system user profile folder.
It must not contain any serviceable components.
This setting can be used to keep system data separate from user data. If Windows is re-installed on the system volume, a user who has administrative rights can manually recover data from this location.

Caution Using ProfilesDirectory to redirect folders to a drive other than the system volume blocks upgrades. Using ProfilesDirectory to point to a directory that is not the system volume will block SKU upgrades and upgrades to future versions of Windows. For example if you use Windows 8 together with ProfilesDirectory set to D:\, you cannot upgrade to Windows 8 Pro or to the next version of Windows. The servicing stack does not handle cross-volume transactions, and it blocks upgrades. 
ProgramData
The ProgramData setting specifies the path of the program data folder.

Important These settings should be used only in a test environment. By changing the default location of the user profile directories or program data folders to a volume other than the System volume, you cannot service your Windows installation. Any updates, fixes, or service packs cannot be applied to the installation. Microsoft recommends that you do not change the location of the user profile directories or program data folders. This is especially true for Windows Store apps. Changing the location of %programdata% will cause errors when you install, uninstall, or update these apps. 
Note If you use the unattend settings to set up the operating systems that are listed in this article, we will provide commercially reasonable efforts to support your scenario.

Properties

Article ID: 949977 - Last Review: December 5, 2013 - Revision: 4.0
Applies to
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows Vista Enterprise 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows Vista Business 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • Windows Vista Home Basic 64-bit Edition
  • Windows Server 2008 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2008 Standard
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Home Basic
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows 7 Ultimate
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard
  • Windows Server 2012 Standard
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter
Keywords: 
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