I need to change the domain on a few laptops and I would like to keep the existing profile intact instead of getting a new profile the next time the user logs in.

Is this possible?

3 Answers 3


You can't "keep" them as such, I don't think there's a command line "-Don'tMangleProfiles" command line switch for when you leave and re-join domains. Keep in mind that the accounts in the new domains will be totally new accounts that don't really have a connection to the old account.

However... if you look at this from a slightly different side, then it can be quite simple: what you can do is use the various "User State Migration" tools to essentially export the current profiles and then import them into the new accounts. (I can't be more specific because you haven't talked about the workstation OS and the exact process varies depending on that)

If we're talking about XP and Vista then this may be useful - Microsoft's free user state migration tool.

  • Thanks for the info, the OS is mostly Windows XP with a few Vista boxes thrown in.
    – Luma
    Oct 5, 2010 at 17:28
  • No worries, edited the question with a link to something that might help.
    – Rob Moir
    Oct 5, 2010 at 17:36
  • This tool looks promising. I am going to test it out on a VM that is not important and if it works then fantastic! I will be all set. Thank you.
    – Luma
    Oct 5, 2010 at 17:45
  • ProfWiz is a good way to help users keepsome of these settings. However any stored passwords and things like that will be gone. forensit.com/downloads.html Oct 5, 2010 at 20:41
  • I think that stored passwords not being exported is a good thing, to be honest. I know people will complain that it's annoying to them but far less so than some of the possibilities if it were possible.
    – Rob Moir
    Oct 5, 2010 at 21:41

I've had to do this many times, it's a pain no matter how you do it. On Windows XP you can "copy" the domain profile to a local profile. Then unjoin the domain, and join the new domain, then "copy the new local profile to the new domain profile.

Here's the steps,

  • First create a new "Local" profile with administrator privileges.
  • Log into that profile once, then logout and log back into the domain profile you want to copy.
  • Right click "my Computer", select properties > Advanced tab > User profiles > Settings > Select the domain user profile and select "copy to". A dialog will come up and ask for the path to copy it to eg. "C:\documents and settings\newuser".
  • This will copy the whole profile over to the newly created local user. You may want to copy the bulk of the users files to a temporary space at the C:\ level. (to avoid running out of space)
  • Once the copy is done (might take a long time), log into the new profile to ensure everything is intact.
  • unjoin domain
  • join new domain, and log in once into the new domain users account, log back out.
  • Repeat the first few steps to copy the new local user to the new domain user.

It's a huge pain I know, but this way, all settings, mapped drives, bookmarks, and software license keys!, will be copied to the new domain profile. In the long run this is easier then manually copying over a profile.

I tried ADMT and a few other tools and had problems with them. This was the solution I ended up relying on to switch over 30 workstations to new domain. You may run into a problem if a user installed software and selected "Me Only", it screws with permissions and the copy will fail, at which point you will have to run subinacl to restore permissions.

Also, the will not work on Windows 7, they disabled the functionality.

Just opinions here, no warranty or guarantees implied. Hope it helps.

  • Thank you for the information, that is a lot of good info and I will test that out as a backup in case the software in the link that Robert provided does not work. I am going to run some tests today.
    – Luma
    Oct 5, 2010 at 19:03
  • I created the new user, logged in once, logged out, logged in as the domain user that will be migrated, went to do the copy to and it is greyed out. any ideas?
    – Luma
    Oct 5, 2010 at 20:44
  • I've mostly seen that happen if the user you are logged in as is not in the local Administrator group. If it doesn't work for that user still, I would try as the local Administrator or the domain Administrator. Also, (as a side note) once you can click on the "Copy to" button, you can also specify any user(s) that you want to have access to that profile.
    – lysdexic
    Oct 5, 2010 at 21:15

If you used something like ADMT to migrate the user and computer accounts between the domains, then the users will still be correctly mapped due to the sIdHistory attribute.

If that is not the case, you could try a tool like Reprofiler to reassign the user profile. I have not used this application, and it is possible that it may break installed applications in some unknown ways.

  • Thank you for the info. We are using ADMT for the in-house workstations but the remote ones are a bit different. I will look at this tool and read about it.
    – Luma
    Oct 5, 2010 at 17:27
  • Reprofiler looked like a great suggestion, but it didn't work on Windows Server 2012 for moving a provile from a local user to a domain user. It appeared to work, but logging in as the domain user after the profile assignment failed. Jun 4, 2014 at 15:06

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