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Windows 7 - Seperating User Data from the system drive

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  • Windows 7 - Seperating User Data from the system drive

    Hi All

    This is my first post so hopefully I hit all the right marks in terms of detail etc. I've searched the forums and the site for the answer to this as well but I've been unable to find anything thus far, so here goes.

    I would like to know what people believe is considered best practice in terms of separating your OS/Programs (System Drive) from your user data on Windows 7. While a lot of people recommend this for obvious reasons, I can find very little detail in terms of implementation on Windows 7 in a standalone configuration without any folder redirection through AD and Group Policy.

    For example, is it best to just redirect the key folders such as 'Documents', 'Music', 'Videos' etc to another drive/partition or is it best to relocate the entire profile and 'Users' folder. Or is it best to relocate the individual profiles within the 'Users' folder and leave the 'Users' folder in place?

    My own view is that redirecting the profiles and the 'Users' folder is best but Iím not sure how this should be done properly. Iíve read that you need to use the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) to achieve this but Iíve also read that itís not a supported configuration by Microsoft and itís possible that some security updates or even services packs would fail to install because they assume the 'Users' folder and associated profiles are on the system drive.

    Iíve wondered about using Symbolic links to achieve this but I guess what Iím really asking is what way is best, and more importantly, supported by Microsoft. While I canít find any info out there, Iím hoping that in 2010 Microsoft will have provided a method to separate your data from your Operating System to facilitate easy backup and restore. While Iím sure there are many hacks out there for achieving this, I donít want to do it in such a way that even thought it works, it breaks future updates from Microsoft.

    Any thoughts? Iím sure this is something a lot of people have thought about or implemented?

    Cheers

    GaileF0rce.

  • #2
    Re: Windows 7 - Seperating User Data from the system drive

    Is this a domain, in which case you can redirect via group policy?
    Are you wanting to redirect on the same machine, or onto a server?

    You can set a registry key to redirect the entire users folder (search the forums for a recent thread about this) but it only applies to new profiles so the existing folder would remain.

    Easiest way, IMHO, may be to redirect critical folders (desktop, documents, favourites) and leave the rest in place. This means that newly installed apps will have somewhere to put their settings if they do not automatically discover a new location.
    Tom Jones
    MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
    PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
    IT Trainer / Consultant
    Ossian Ltd
    Scotland

    ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

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    • #3
      Re: Windows 7 - Seperating User Data from the system drive

      Ossian, Thanks for the fast response.

      No, it's a standalone PC. I'm talking about my home system. I appreciate that I can (and do) use Group Policy to redirect folders in domain environments. I'm simply looking for the best way to have my data on it's own partition on a standalone Windows 7 PC.

      I don't understand your point about redirecting the Users folder through a registry setting but that it only applies to new profiles leaving the existing ones in place. Surely if you redirect the entire Users folder, it would redirect everything? No? Also, I've searched but I'm unable to find the thread you mention)

      Also, as I mentioned, I'm concerned that a particular configuration like this wont be supported by Microsoft in future updates in which case, what's the point of doing it?

      I'm keen to understand what other people do?

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      • #4
        Re: Windows 7 - Seperating User Data from the system drive

        Redirect the user shell folders in the registry. And I've just given you a hint of the keywords to Google
        Gareth Howells

        BSc (Hons), MBCS, MCP, MCDST, ICCE

        Any advice is given in good faith and without warranty.

        Please give reputation points if somebody has helped you.

        "For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the Earth." (Exodus 9:15) - I could kill you with my thumb.

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        • #5
          Re: Windows 7 - Seperating User Data from the system drive

          OK, a link to redirecting user profiles is here:
          http://www.windows7hacker.com/index....-in-windows-7/

          What I meant was that only works for new profiles -- existing ones will stay in C:\users unless you manually move them and change the registry

          I don't think Microsoft will be too fussed about where the profile is -- their software looks for it properly
          Tom Jones
          MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
          PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
          IT Trainer / Consultant
          Ossian Ltd
          Scotland

          ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Windows 7 - Seperating User Data from the system drive

            Thanks Guys.

            I think redirecting the user profiles through the method you suggested is definitely the way to go.


            Cheers.

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