Potentially Troublesome Windows 7 User Profiles

While at “the New Efficiency” event last week, I was tapped to see if I had some insight to a problem someone was having migrating and duplicating local user profiles on Windows 7. I’ll admit I haven’t much bothered with user profiles since my NT 4.0 days. Even at my current job, we doesn’t copy or use customized default profiles as a starting point for desktops. We distribute key icons and settings for users with group policies or scripts and don’t worry about maintaining any customizations that each user does for themselves.

My first recommendation was that for migrating existing desktop profiles from XP to Windows 7, Microsoft provides the User State Migration Tool (for large deployments) and Windows Easy Transfer (for a few computers) to move the local documents and settings for users from XP to Windows 7. These tools help ensure all the necessary files are getting moved to the proper locations.

However the question also involved issues copying existing profiles for other users. I didn’t have a good answer for someone having this type of problem in Windows 7, but I promised I’d see if I could come up with something.

After some research, I learned that others were having profile duplication issues with Windows 7 – specifically copying an existing profile to the default one. I found a quite extensive thread on the TechNet forums and an IronGeek.com posting which offered a workaround. I didn’t delve into experimenting with any of these things, but I did pass them along with the hopes that they might point the requester in the right direction.

The next day, I got an update thanking me for providing the information and that he’d been able to solve the majority of his profile related issues. He also mentioned a program called “Windows Enabler”, which I haven’t used myself but I suspect might have been recommended by someone contributing to the TechNet thread or another forum. We all know the web can lead you to many things.

So if you are struggling with an issue similar to this, perhaps those same links will lead you to the answer you need. As with anything on the Internet, your mileage may vary.
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EDIT 10/30/09 – Here’s a link to a great blog post from the Springboard Series with the how/why for Windows 7 profiles work the way they do and the Microsoft recommended way to handle customized default profiles –
Configuring Default User Settings, Full Update for Windows 7.

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