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We're in the process of migrating an environment from Novell eDirectory to Active Directory.

We're using the Zenworks Personality Migrator to handle most settings and files, but some things are being left out. One of the steps we want to take is to take a full export of the user's HKCU hive and import it on the new AD account.

My question is: Is there a way to take a FULL export of a user's HKCU hive while not logged in as that user and then import it into another user's HKCU hive.

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Extra information: All workstations are Windows XP SP2 or SP3. All profiles are migrated from one user to another //on the same machine.// –  Zomgie Apr 17 '11 at 20:34
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2 Answers

Microsoft says this is a bad idea, and has done so since Windows 2000 came out. It gets worse as you get newer. For us it hit critical this year when we moved to Win7 in our computer-labs and our desktop-management people had to figure out how to handle setting up the default-user profile via the Microsoft-recommended method of sysprep instead of setting up a user the way they wanted and copying everything to Default User.

Since you're setting up new profiles, you want a profile copy. That was possible with WinNT, and allowed up until Microsoft removed the option in Vista. There is a reason they did that. A profile copy is not recommended. Novell's Zenworks is doing everything that can reasonably be done for profile copy, chances are the missing bits are bits that can cause problems.

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We aren't trying to move any profiles to new machines. Ideally (and I know we can't do this), I wish we could just join the workstation to the domain and "link" the current local profile to the AD profile. The Zenworks Personality Migration utility is doing 95% of work (and works GREAT) but I need to find a way to grab that last 5% that includes lots of application specific settings Zenworks doesn't care about. –  Zomgie Apr 17 '11 at 20:34
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It isn't a case that zenworks and other migration tools don't "care" about that last 5% (after all, if that were true there would be a product out there eating everyone else's lunch just by "caring" about that last 5%), it's more a case that it can't be reliably moved in the way you're asking for. –  RobM Apr 18 '11 at 8:01
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I recommend this approach:

  1. Identify where those registry settings Zenworks does not care about are stored
  2. Write a script to export those settings
  3. Import the settings on the new computer

You should not export/import the entire profile! Be as granular as possible. I recommend transferring individual keys below HKCU\Software.

The script would work like this:

  1. Load a user's hive (with reg load) to HKU\TempHive (or any other name below HKU)
  2. Do the export from HKU\TempHive (reg export)
  3. Unload the temporary hive (reg unload)

In case you need a more sophisticated solution, look at my employer's product sepago Profile Migrator.

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