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Tricky Windows XP User Account/Profile Transfer Problem

By almcneil
Sep 19, 2009
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  1. Tech-Spotters,

    I have a tricky problem transfering user accounts between Windows XP machines. I have a friend who needs two employees to swap their computers. This requires me to swap their user accounts between the machines.

    Naturally, I used Windows File & Settings Transfer Wizard (FAST.) I'd tranfer the accounts then delete the old ones. Well, FAST overlayed the existing account on both machines. Oops! I think I figured out why. Since both machines only had the one user account, the default name was "owner" for both. So FAST just added to the existing "owner" account rather than create a new one. Thankfully, I imaged both machines before trying it and restored them to their original state.

    Now, I'm looking for a SEAMLESS method for swapping the user accounts on both machines. I know I could just create new "dummy" accounts and copy the files and settings in it from the other machine manually, but there's the chance I could mess it up. I was just wondering if someone has a clever, seamless method for doing this.

    TIA,
    -- Andy
  2. strategic

    strategic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,274

    You can't modify an existing account that way. When using "FAST", you need to create the account you need first, then the files/settings will be transferred to that.
    Start over, don't creat any dummy accounts, create the accounts required (I assume they have different names?). RUn the "FAST" in the newly created accounts.
  3. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 1,554

    Thx strategic.

    Actually, what I meant by my manual technique with the "dummy" account does work but it's tedious and error prone. You create a new account on the new machine then switch to an existing account. You then copy the user account files and settings folder from the old computer and then tediously copy the files and settings into the new "dummy" account. I've done it many times to rebuild a customer's user account that has been corrupted from virus/spyware. But again, it's tedious and error prone.

    Yes, I know FAST has a "selective" option which I have never tried. Guess it's a good time to try something new!

    -- Andy

    P.S. OK, I just checked FAST on my own PC and no, it doesn't allow you save individual accounts. You can select which individual folders, files and settings. This doesn't solve my problem. So, I'll have to transfer the user accounts manually.

    -- Andy
  4. strategic

    strategic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,274

    You're right, the dummy account method will work, it's just a waste of time. Create the account the way it needs to be, and in the event something were to go wrong, just delete the new account. I've done this quite often using FAST, transferring from old PC to new PC. It's excellent and seamless. To date, I never came across any errors that way. The selective option wil alow you to choose what you do/do not want to transfer. When done, the only thing required are passwords, for email accounts, etc.
  5. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 1,554

    Yes, I have used FAST, many times in fact. But only in the situation where a customer needed to move his/her account(s) to a new "vanilla" machine. In my current situation for a friend's business, I want to swap the existing accounts between two existing machines. I discovered that FAST "overlayed" the accounts. I thought it would have created a second account and then I can delete the original account. I figured it's because each machine has one account under "owner" and FAST presumes the new machine is brand new with a default "vanilla" owner account. So it "overlays" which is not what I want to happen. Do you understand my dilemna now? FAST isn't sophistacted enough to determine that the new machine is not brand new nor does it ask you if you want to "overlay" or create a new separate account. So I'm hosed used FAST seamlessly.

    One trick I have used is the "dummy" account. I create a new "dummy" account on the target machine. I then copy the entire user account folder for the old account from the source machine to the target machine and rename the account folder from "owner" to the "dummy" account name. I delete the "dummy" account folder. Sometimes this will seamlessly work but not always.

    -- Andy
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