Microsoft

Get IT Done: Two ways to better manage local Win2K profiles

Clean up old profiles and redirect a user profile after a Windows reinstall.


Windows 2000 local user profiles control everything from what's displayed on the desktop to the user's My Documents folder. Effectively managing these profiles can keep your machine running smoothly and your end users happy. These two Windows 2000 administration tips will help clean up old user profiles and redirect a user profile after a Windows reinstall.

Clean up old profiles
Your user profile comprises your desktop, My Documents, and several other folders. On systems upgraded from Windows NT, the profile folder is located in \%systemroot%\Profiles. With clean Windows 2000 installations, you'll find the profile folder in the Documents And Settings folder.

A profile can become quite large, particularly if you use Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, or other applications that store data in your profile. If you log on with several different user accounts on the same computer, your system might contain several profiles you no longer use. These profiles can potentially take up quite a bit of disk space. It's easy to clean up those profiles and recover that space. To do so, follow these steps:
  1. Right-click My Computer and choose Properties to open the System Properties sheet.
  2. Click the User Profiles tab to view the list of profiles stored on the computer and the amount of disk space each profile consumes.
  3. You can move a profile to a server or another computer if you need to retain a copy of the profile’s data, or simply delete the profile. To move a profile, select the profile and click Copy To, see Figure A.

Figure A

  1. Specify the desired location for the profile and click OK.
  2. After Windows 2000 copies the profile to the new location, click Delete to delete the old copy.

Word of warning
The following section suggests ways to edit your System Registry. Using the Windows Registry Editor incorrectly can cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system and could result in data loss. TechRepublic does not and will not support problems that arise from editing your registry. Use the Registry Editor and the following directions at your own risk.

Redirect a user profile
After reinstalling Windows 2000 on a system with an existing Documents And Settings folder, you'll probably see that a new user profile replaced your old profile. For example, assume you log on as administrator, and in your previous installation, your profile was stored in Documents And Settings\Administrator. You install a new copy of Windows 2000, name the computer MYPC in the second installation, and delete the original. The problem is that your account now uses Documents And Settings\Administrator.MYPC as your profile location. All of your old data still resides in your original profile folder, which houses your desktop, My Documents, and application data.

Figure B


You can redirect Windows 2000 to your old profile by editing the registry. Open the Registry Editor and then open the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList. Under this branch, locate the key that contains your profile settings. The easiest way to identify the correct key is to check the value of ProfileImagePath (see Figure B) in the key and locate the one pointing to your current profile directory. Then, edit the value of ProfileImagePath to point to the old profile path. Log off and log back on. This should restore your original profile.

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