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Precached Windows Logins?

I swear I've seen clever solutions to this on SF before, but my search-fu is weak this Monday. Remote user's drive has failed, and I need to ship him a new one. It'd be ideal if I could get his profile to load on this end before shipping. I'd like to avoid changing his password to log him in myself, as he's technologically crippled, and it'll take him a month to get the password reset on his Blackberry.

Edit They're not roaming profiles. I'd just like him to be able to log in to a domain account so that after firing up the VPN, he won't have to re-authenticate to each system.

The only clever fix I could remember was to have the user remote desktop in to load the profile, but he's got no access.

  • It's a roaming profile then? – squillman Sep 21 '09 at 13:17
  • Good point Updated the question. – Kara Marfia Sep 21 '09 at 13:20
  • Good info in both, but pointing this back toward the original question/answer. – Kara Marfia Sep 21 '09 at 15:29

I think you're probably outta luck, unfortunately.

There's no documented way to assume the identity of another user in Windows w/o using their password. That "problem" underlies what you want to do. There are definitely times when I wish I could just "su" to another user's identity...

It sounds like you want to replicate the specific actions taken by Winlogon and Userinit after the user authenticates to get the local profile "established", and then populate that profile directory with whatever contents you want.

The detailed steps taken by the OS during logon aren't documented anywhere that I'm familiar with at such a level of specificity as to make that possible. (Wouldn't it be nice to be able to take a peek at the Windows source code at times like this?). If were to try and do it, as a "hack", I'd start looking around at the registry where Windows keeps the "profile list".

The "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList" sub-key for the user gets loaded with information about their profile. It would be tempting to attempt to pre-create this subkey for a scratch-monkey user and see if you can get Windows to "recognize" them as having a valid local profile. You'll need to render their SID as a binary blob for the "Sid" value in that sub-key. Raymond Chen can tell you how to do that here. Many of the other values in the sub-key are self explanatory, but some aren't. After just fighting last week with Vista refusing to load a roaming user's profile and finding no documention to help with the problem (but determining that the problem had something to do with the "NextLogonCacheable" and "State" values in the sub-key for the profile), I can tell you that the documentation from Microsoft on those other values is pretty weak.

All-in-all, I'd say that you're probably on the business-end of what's going to turn out to be more of a "person problem" than a "tech problem", unfortunately. (I know those tech-challenged users only too well... Somehow I still have hair, even for want of pulling it out so many times.)


As far as I've ever seen there is no way to do it. Here's the question I remember on this with the remote desktop trick, but no other solution.


Using "Copy To..." under User Profiles in System Properties allows a network location as a destination, but this comes with the caveat that I haven't tested it for the purpose you want, and that there may be other considerations that would prevent it from working.


Actually I think there is a way. You mention VPN. If you're using the Cisco client (you don't mention what VPN), you can set the client up to connect via VPN before the client logs on.

  • If it's just a matter of getting the domain credential onto the client, that'll probably work. If it's a matter of getting files into the user's profile before you ship the computer out then that's another story. – Evan Anderson Sep 21 '09 at 14:14

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