I have some Vista x64 workstatons configured for software development that have never been joined to our AD domain. The users have lots of custom settings in their local unjoined user profiles that they want to see maintained after the join. How do I do this? Their profiles are large (just under 1GB in some cases) full of source code, etc.

  1. Join them to the domain
  2. Login with their domain credentials, logout
  3. Login as local administrator (not the old account, not the new one, a 3rd local admin)
  4. Right click My Computer and select properties
  5. Select advanced system settings
  6. Go to the Advanced tab
  7. Click settings under user profiles
  8. Select their old profile you want and click Copy to
  9. Browse to the location of their new profile and overwrite it

If the Copy button is grayed out then reboot and repeat steps 2-9.

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  • Excellent, thank you. A few clarifying questions: 1. If I log in with their domain cred., a new profile will be created in step 2, correct? Do I need to reboot after that so that Copy To in step 8 can overwrite the new profile (otherwise it woudl be cached)? 2. If their old local profile was users\joe and the new profile is users\US01.joe, then that is the from and to in step 8, correct? 3. Are there any known problems with Copy To and large profiles? Can it cope with the junctions and symlinks in a Vista profile? 4. In step 8, do I also have to set Permit To Use to be the domain acct? – user23099 Oct 18 '09 at 17:10
  • 1. Yea, I think you'll need to reboot or it won't let you overwrite. 2. Yes, select users\joe from the list in the box and then click Copy To and browse to C:\users\us01.joe and click ok. 3. I've used this method with profiles with a couple gigs worth of data before. I'm not aware of any issues. 4. Yes, good catch. – djhowell Oct 19 '09 at 15:49
  • Still grayed out after 2 reboots. Any suggestions? Also, the 3rd local admin sees the domain account as "Account unknown" in the user profiles window. – sinned Feb 3 '15 at 13:27
  • I know this is an old question and answer, but I'm just about to install the first DC for an office running five Windows 10 computers in a workgroup. If I domain join these computers and do the profile copy as per your steps, will it include the Microsoft Outlook profile(s) and email accounts? – Reece Oct 12 '17 at 3:22

Join the computer to the domain. Log in via the local admin account or a new domain account.

Under Control panel, System Properties, Advanced Settings Tab click the Settings button in the User Profiles section.

Select the LOCAL profile ( <MachineName>\<account>) and click Copy To - enter the path ( c:\Users\NewDomain.Account) and use the Permited to Use Change button to link it to the domain account.

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Or just use the included easytransfer utility to copy files over. Takes a little more time than remapping the profiles as suggested above, but its way cleaner (imho).

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Actually, I have one slightly different suggestion for you, shoek.

If you visit this URL, http://www.forensit.com/downloads.html you'll see a link for User Profile Wizard 3.0.

You can use this FREE tool on the machine to perform two tasks in one swift motion.
1. You can add the machine to the domain, AND
2. You can copy the users' LOCAL profile over to their DOMAIN profile, allowing them to sign into their new DOMAIN profile, and retain all the settings and customizations from their local profile.

It'll even add the new DOMAIN profile to the LOCAL Administrators group for you!

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It depends how you store your users profiles once they are on the domain. Are they kept locally on their machines, or do you have roaming profiles setup stored on a server?

Either way your going to need to join them to the domain, logon to create their default profile and then work on copying their data from their old profile into their corresponding domain profile fol

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Here is how I have been doing this since Windows 2000. Yes I just did just do exactly this on my new domain with Windows 7 workstations about 10 minutes ago so I can vouch that it works flawlessly.

Assuming you have one local admin user called Ernie:

  1. Login as Ernie and add another local admin user Grover then Log Off.
    1. Login as Grover and join the computer to the domain then reboot.
    2. Login as Grover and rename C:\Users\Ernie to c:\Users\Ernie.old then reboot.
    3. Login as SesameStreet.Ernie and then reboot.
    4. Login as Grover and delete C:\Users\Ernie and rename C:\Users\Ernie.old to C:\Users\Ernie then reboot.
    5. Login as SesameStreet.Ernie.

Done, the local profile is now the domain profile.

You can probably substitute all of the reboots (except the one after joining the domain which is required) with Log Offs, that worked in Windows 2000 and XP. But being that this is Windows 7 I figured I would play it safe.

Note: I am not using roaming profiles in my setup, I see no reason why this wouldn't work in that situation as well but I have not tested it.

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  • This doesn't properly manage permissions and SIDs and can lead to any sort of problems. I strongly advise anyone against doing it this way. It may have always worked for you, but it's completely and utterly wrong. – Massimo Jun 5 '14 at 22:40

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