How to copy profiles in Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 7

In Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 7, Microsoft has disabled the Copy To.. button on the User Profiles screen.

This process has been used for years to create a custom default user profiles and now they go and break that with no real workaround.

They want people to move to Windows 2008 and Windows 7 but they keep doing things like this that keep companies away from deploying it.

They say they did this because there are issues with copying user profiles and instead want you to use the methods in the KB – http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;959753

I have had a lot of questions on this of late so I decided to do some research to figure out a workaround. Thankfully someone else has already did the work and has come up with a good workaround.

http://joeelway.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!2095EAC3772C41DB!2708.entry

48 thoughts on “How to copy profiles in Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 7

  1. Pingback: How to Build a Windows 2008 VMware ESX VM Template « Jeremy Waldrop’s Virtualization blog

  2. This blog post is incorrect. With the RTM versions of both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 you can indeed right click and choose “Copy to…”
    Granted, you cannot copy the active users profile, but every single other cached profile on the machine.

  3. I am using the RTM version of Windows 2008 R2 and the Copy to.. button is grayed out unless I use the tool mentioned in the link.

  4. Yes I tested Windows Enabler on W2K8 R2 and it works great. I wonder if there is a secret registry hack to enable that button?

  5. When I tried the Windows Enabler it didn’t work. It still stayed grayed out…

    I’m not too keen on trying the other option.

  6. Were you logged in as the local administrator? I found that if I wasn’t logged in as the local administrator trying to copy another profile that I had customized it wouldn’t work for some reason. Create a new user, customize that profile, login as the local administrator and then try the Windows Enabler.

  7. I’ve found a quick way that is a little silly but works.

    1. Setup your profile the way you want.
    2. Log into your Admin account.
    3. Go to C: drive / users and look for the Default and Default User folders ( You’ll need to go to the control panel / Folder Options and unprotect systems files to see these.
    4. Rename Default and Default Users to something else ( Anything you want)
    5. Now copy twice the folder of the profile you want to be the default. Rename one “Default and one “Default User”.
    6. Now reprotect those system files.

    By this time i join the PC to our work domain and log in with a new user. The new default profile is picked up and applied. I havent ran into any problems doing it this way.

  8. I gave up on the idea of copying a custom configured profile to the default profile. It really does cause problems down the road. Example the my documents folder name is messed (an easy one). The harder one is what it does (NOT) do to identies. The default profile gets the identity of the customer profile and then all new profiles based on this corrupt default get the same identity. Took me days to figure out what happen.

    My current method (prior to Win7) is create a custom Regedit script to make the desired changes on the default profile. For the simpler stuff it does what I need. More complex stuff is handled by a group policy from a domain controller.

  9. Pingback: Build a 2008/2008 R2 Template | My-Technet

  10. Thanks and i have followed this but when i cannot create a customise option which i thought i would be able to.
    I thought once i choose deploy virtual machine from this template and went through i would be able to choose create new customize script and set licesne etc in this file like in windows server 2003.

    Am i missing something

  11. I have a method that has been working consistently for me for quite some time now.

    1. create and configure your model profile. For example lets say the name of the model profile is “modelprofile”

    2. log off model profile, login the local administrator account.

    3. launch regedit, navigate to [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList]

    4. Note that the value data DEFAULT (reg_expand_sz) is….. %SystemDrive%\Users\Default

    5. right-click and Modify the string and change the path to ….%SystemDrive%\Users\modelprofile

    ——————–

    NOW COPY THE PROFILE

    6. Right click “Computer”, click properties

    7. Click Advanced System Settings

    8. Under User Profiles, click on Settings…

    9. Choose (click) on “Default Profile”

    10. Click on “Copy To…”

    11. Browse to or enter the path to the default user profile “C:\Users\Default”

    12. Under “permitted to use” click on “change” type the object name “everyone”

    13. Click OK, then OK again.

    ————————-

    AFTER PROFILE COPIES SUCCESSFULLY THEN REVERT REGISTRY TO DEFAULT BY REPEATING STEPS 1-4.

    14. Revert the original value data for the DEFAULT (reg_expand_sz) string path back to…. %SystemDrive%\Users\modelprofile

    ———————

    What did we just do? Well since Windwos vista and 7 only allow us to copy the Default user profile where ever we want, we just tricked the computer in thinking that MODELPROFILE was the default user profile, copied it back to the actual default user location (c:\users\default) and then reverted back to system defaults.

    Alternatively, a less redundant method is simply to point the default user path to the profile of your choice and call it good.

    I like to first method better because it always leaves me a 2nd copy for backup in case of a user error.

  12. oops…. I errored in step 14, it should read…

    14. Revert the original value data for the DEFAULT (reg_expand_sz) string path back to…. %SystemDrive%\Users\Default

  13. To use Windows enabler you have to run it as admin…right click it, select run as administrator. When it shows up in the tray, click on it – to turn it on. Then when the greyed out button is STILL greyed out (which it WILL be), you click on it (the button)…and it will BECOME ACTIVE, in EVERY version of Windows 7!

  14. Pingback: How to Build a Windows 2008 VMware ESX VM Template « Hubbo.net Foto

  15. Does Joe’s method work for Windows 2008 R2? And the link you provided no longer works, (as well as the cached link Eugene posted.)

  16. The default location for many applications to save file and create workspaces remains c:\users\(profile you copied over) and not the profile of the person who is logged on

  17. Hey Johnny Pockets,

    Thanks a mil for your post. I downloaded WindowsEnabler before and saw the button still greyed out and was gutted. Now I know how it works.🙂

  18. I used Joe’s method but now new users cannot login to the server (RDS). When a new user logs in, they get “The User Profile Service failed the logon”. Also, when I try to copy a new modelprofile to the Default, I get “failed to set security on the destination profile” and won’t allow me to go any further. Any ideas?

  19. Word! Thanks a bunch! A few more steps than the XP way but same results. A word of advice to others. Don’t log off of your “modleprofile” to login as Admin and perform Joe’s steps…do a reboot. It just make certain files don’t get stuck open, etc.

  20. hi after the change en regedit my users cant logg in the error is:

    The user profileservice failed to logon
    user profile cannot be loaded.

  21. First of all your link is no longer valid http://joeelway.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!2095EAC3772C41DB!2708.entry

    However if I can infer from the contents it involved downloading the Windows Enabler app that essentially would allow you to “turn on” the Copy To profile button.

    Which is nothing more than a HACK workaround. Microsoft would have done better to just remove the Copy To button rather than just tease us with it.

    It was a great utility for NT4.0 but was never really updated to account for the complex shell that Windows has become. There’s a completely valid reason MS stopped support of Copy To…, it really doesn’t work. You may think it works by allowing you to copy over the default user profile, but there’s a huge cost in doing so. All of which is fully explained here and is admittedly a pain to configure http://support.microsoft.com/kb/973289/en-us

    However with no guarantees in IT work, there is one pretty standard truth, if you find yourself troubleshooting inexplicable Windows problems on a machine that’s appeared to be running fine for some time, more than likely the default profile was created with the Copy To process.

    Which is also interesting to note, MS themselves will not support or troubleshoot a Windows installation that was created that way.

  22. I recently stumbled upon this post again and noticed that several folks have tried the CopyTo default user profile that I described some time ago.

    I would like to throw out a short disclaimer on that earlier method.

    That method that was used at that time was in the absense of any other Windows solution (with the exception of the sysprep method). It was a solution that solved the problem at the time (a means to and end) and worked really well in my environment. That method involed modifying the registry and messing with the User Profile service, any deviation or misinterpretation of those steps could easily have broken a system. While it was a reliable method for me, it did require attention to detail that was unforgiving.

    However, that solution was clearly a ‘hacked’ work-around to an XP feature that MS disabled in Windows 7. With that said, I can’t imagine MS ever supporting a system modified with the workaround I previously descrived.

    Update, the following year we began using a product called “User Profile Manager” which provides a CopyTo function as well as a “assign” profile feature. While the product was largely unstable the first year, things smoothed out and we use it on all of our Computer labs now.

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  29. Pingback: How to Build a Windows 2008 VMware ESX VM Template | I n s a n 4 I T

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