Getting rid of multiple users

Posted on 1997-11-09
Last Modified: 2013-12-16
I setup windows 95 with multiple users and now I only want one.  The multiple users option has left many directories on my hard disk and I've been told this takes up a lot of space.  How do I completely remove all multiple user information/directories, etc., saving the info of one specific user as the new default.  I also don't want to see the login screen when I start my computer.
Question by:carheden
LVL 95

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 1751575
Do update you're emergency disk first and read through the instructions first.

The Start menu, desktop, etc. for the "default user" or when not using "user profiles" are stored in directories off the Windows directory.  Windows\desktop, windows\Start Menu, etc.  When using User profiles, every time a new user logs in, they get the default settings, which are stored in the above directories.  It stores this information in a sub directory of the Windows\profiles directory, named after the user.  For example, a new user - John - logs in, the existing settings found in c:\windows\desktop, c:\windows\start menu, etc. are copied into a newly created sub directory of c:\windows\profiles.  So John's desktop and startmenu would be stored in c:\windows\profiles\john\desktop and c:\windows\profiles\john\start menu.

Now what you want to do is copy the settings for the user you want and put them in the default areas.  Then go to the Passwords control panel and tell it to stop using user profiles.  Reboot.  
Log in as a new user by just entering any new user name and confirming the password.  This is to verify your desktop and related settings are as they should be.

Go to the profiles sub directory and make sure there is isn't a sub directory for the new user you just created.

Now, if all is well, you may want to copy your user.dat (which is the user specific part of the registry).

Do the following steps form a DOS prompt (you may have to reboot to DOS mode to do this)
attrib c:\windows\user.dat -r -s -h
copy c:\windows\user.dat c:\windows\user.bak
     this creates a backup copy of you're original user settings.
attrib c:\windows\profiles\<username>\user.dat -r -s -h
copy c:\windows\profiles\<username>\user.dat c:\windows
<<Be careful with this... the user settings include desktop information, such as background picture, screen saver, and other cosmetic things... if you're not comfortable playing around with the registry like this then Don't - just reset things.>>

Well, we're almost done.

Ideally, before deleting anything you should make a backup first.

Now you're ready to delete the profiles directory.  Confirm that you want to delete everything, including sub directories, when prompted.

You can do a find for *.pwl (these are the last remnants of the setup you originally created, they are the saved password lists for each user.  Delete all except the one(s) which may be named "share.pwl" or "share000.pwl" or similar).

Now reboot.  Log in with any user name but just press enter for the password.  If you read the login screen it should tell you that by pressing enter you won't see that screen again.

(By the way, I'm assuming you're not on a network.  And if you keep gettings the profiles created it may be that someone has fiddled with the System Policies and set profiles to be required.)


Author Comment

ID: 1751576
copying the profiles\<username> directorys to c:\windows saved the icons I had on the desktop and start menu, but copying the user.dat file did nothing, and I lost my background, sound associations, mouse setting and some startup programs.  I had to undo the changes I made to get these back?  The user.dat file is an important regestry file, right?  Where else might these things be stored and how do I change without losing these things?

Expert Comment

ID: 1751577
If you do not want to have to see login screen, type any username and empty password, confirm it and windows will never ask for it again.
LVL 14

Accepted Solution

smeebud earned 70 total points
ID: 1751578
Using this as a template, you can make the changes you want. The only thing that *MIGHT* not automatically showup is your start menu .lnk's, making it appear as though nothing is installed. When you make the changes, you may have to enter, Start, Setting, Tackbar, Anvanced butto. Then copy the prorram links to start menu.
Changing Profile Settings to Default Settings
1. Before you do the procedure below Backup your registry in
these ways.
A. Make a directory called C:\1 and copy a full registry export to
that directory.
B. Copy your present System.da0 and User.da0 from Windows to
there also.
C. I always advise everyone to get WRP. In my opinion
WRPV3.ZIP is the Best and easiest Backup/Restore I've Seen.
Go To: and scroll to
Plus: Ultraedit My favorite text editor by a mile. You can get this
text editor from the same URL as above.
You Now have THREE copies of your Registry. I have High
Confidence in the following procedure but I don't know your
system. So, a triple redundancy backup is now in place
2. After you're finished with the search and replace to double click
to enter your new registry changes. That would work, however I
believe it would be better to do it from dos. Copy REGEDIT.EXE
TO C:\1 also and you can do all your work from there. It would
look like this. C:\1>REGEDIT PROFILE.REG [enter] You don't
have to reboot, but go into windows and run your computer thru
it's paces to see that all is fine.
OK Here we go:
Open your registry, highlight your profile key in the left side and
export it. Then with a good text editor do a global search and
replace for your profile name i.e.; JONHDOE is my profile.
Search JONHDOE and replace with .Default.

Once you've changed all the profile names from JONHDOE to
.default, which can be done in one global search and replace
action, save the file, it should still have a .reg extension, and double
click it.  That will enter all your profile info into .default. Saving a
copy of you complete registry 1st, and a copy of you profile
export, for safety, Only then can you delete the profile key.

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