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We have decided that it is time to build a domain in our smallish office, and i have been tasked with the job. The Domain is setup, and we are in the process of creating usernames and passwords for users. Since the users all have existing machines (mostly laptops) and have been using them for some time now, when they join the domain, their settings are going to go "missing" for them... they wont be on their desktop, and their documents folder will be somewhere else...

What i am looking for is a quick and easy way of moving their documents, settings, desktops, etc, from their old login account, to their new domain based account... at minimum, this should be files in their "My Documents" folder and Desktop, but moving settings and mail for Outlook, Visual Studio, IE/FireFox/, etc, would be handy too.

I have read about the Microsoft User State Migration Tool, but unless i am reading wrong, it seems to be setup for moving from one machine to another, not from one account to another... Any ideas?

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If I could remember more details I'd post an answer but several years ago we used roaming profiles and the Copy To feature under System Properties > Advanced > Profiles on each machine to push their local profile to each user's roaming profile directory. When they logged in for the first time, their now domain profile was copied down locally. You can then turn off roaming profiles if you want to. I do recall having to reboot as the profile gets locked if the local user has logged in (gets grayed out in the Copy To profile list). – gravyface Oct 20 '11 at 10:47
(cont...) you can test if that works with a new test user (or an old user that has a profile lingering around you don't mind losing). I don't think we had to take ownership of the profile as the permissions are inherited when copied. Some Windows/AD gurus can probably tell you exactly what you have to do with regards to permissions. – gravyface Oct 20 '11 at 10:49
Is it too late for you to invest in Small Business Server 2011? If not, it's the perfect solution to the problem and is a great platform for small businesses. – joeqwerty Oct 20 '11 at 11:06
@joeqwerty we may have a licesne for Small Business Server 2011... will look into that... We have 3 servers in house, and where planning 2 for AD/DNS/DHCP... Will check out SBS Though. – TiernanO Oct 20 '11 at 11:11
@gravyface: Thanks for the info. i will look into this and see how it works. – TiernanO Oct 20 '11 at 11:11
up vote 1 down vote accepted

When I've had to do something similar, I used a couple short scripts to help me copy the contents of the profile.

  1. Add a share on the server to temporarily hold profile contents
  2. Write a script that creates a new folder based on logged in username, and uploads the files you're interested in. (e.g. Desktop, My Documents, Favorites, specific AppData)
  3. Log into the workstation with the new Active Directory credentials, then use a second script to copy all the files of interest from the server back into the user profile.

This won't migrate any settings stored in the registry, or printers the user has added, or certificates the user has installed. Depending on your environment, that might be acceptable.

Personally, I would look at this as an opportunity to set everybody up with clean user profiles in a known state. This should simplify any troubleshooting you need to do with your new domain environment.

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thanks for the tip @nic, i like the idea, but if we where only to copy some data, not all, i think we would be asked a load of questions... given how small the place is, that means I will be asked all the questions... not liking that... I do like the second option more... Now to have a chat with people and see what others here think. Thanks again. – TiernanO Nov 10 '11 at 10:04

I came across a blog post which seems to cover a situation very similar to yours. They were migrating user profiles from one domain to another, while you are migrating local profiles into a new domain.

The basic concept is that you can modify the machine registry so that the new domain user account uses the original local user profile, including the original NTUSER.DAT which stores the user's private registry settings. The settings can be found here:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\

This is a bit harder than just copying the user data, but it would also result in fewer complaints from the users. :-)

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I wrote this as a separate answer so that the community can vote for either solution. – Nic Nov 10 '11 at 10:28
thanks for those links. the second one looks "easier" than the first. most users would be the local admin on their machine (we are devs after all... :P) and the only user also. i would have accepted this one, but i accepted the other first! thanks again! – TiernanO Nov 10 '11 at 11:17

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