Ramifications of relocating Application data, Desktop, Favorites, Start Menu, Templates, User Data, My Documents

Posted on 2004-11-22
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
I have moved the following Documents and Settings folders to a separate partition: Application data, Desktop, Favorites, Start Menu, Templates, User Data, My Documents

I don't see any ramifications with Desktop, Favorites, Start Menu and My Documents - however, I am unsure about Application data, Templates and User Data.

I will often restore a prior system partition image when my machine starts acting odd - and I don't have to worry about restoring the "data" (i.e. the folders I mentioned above).  I have not experienced any problems with this approach.  Can anyone see any issues with these folders being out of synch with the system partition:  Application data, Templates and User Data
Question by:SAbboushi
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    I don´t understand to much you problem but to make the right ramifications you should:

    Copy all the folders you want to another location (if the folder is a system folder) then do this:

    1- Open regedit
    2- go the the

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders

    There you´ll see some system folders you made change to the new location

    3- HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

    There you have some system folders to that you should change

    Hope is usefull

    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    like above.  you could make a backup of your registry.  then just edit the whole thing, do a find for "c:\documents ....\" and then just replace the directory that it finds with the new location..


    Author Comment

    Thanks for the responses -

    Just to clarify, I am not asking how to do this or back it up, I have already done this!

    Again, my question is:  Can anyone see any issues with these folders being out of synch with the system partition:  Application data, Templates and User Data
    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    In one word, yes!
    The only way to make this backup method effective is to make periodic copys of these directories.
    A one-time copy will not do, since most of these folders change on a daily basis.
    For example, these folders help your outlook express data and so on.
    So to make it effective you must treat it like any other type of backup and
    update it on a regular basis. If it`s up to date and you have to format, then you have a recent copy
    and chances are you`ll be ok.
    Good luck!
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    If you used the Power Toys feature to achive this relocation then Windows will have correctly updated the necessary pointers in the registry so everything behaves as it should.

    I did exactly the same thing some time ago for similar reasons.

    As an additional resore aid I exported the entire contents of these registry keys to text files


    and then searched them for any references to "D:\Documents and Settings\"

    When I found one I copied the parent key and the setting to another REGEDIT file that start off empty.

    When it was finished it contained all the registry-specific references to the new location.

    After I had done a system rebuild and added the same user names, I'd simply Merge this registry file into the registry and off I went.
    LVL 87

    Expert Comment

    I don't think you should have any problems as long these folders belong to a users. You might run into problems with the special folders like All Users, Default User, LocalServices and NetworkServices.

    Author Comment

    Good thought - although that sounds somewhat time consuming - and maintenance intensive to keep the registry file "current".

    rindi - thanks for sharing your opinion - I tend to agree, but am looking for someone who has more intimate knowledge of what is generally contained in these specific folders - because I certainly don't know!

    Thanks everyone else for your comments - I still have the impression that some readers are not clear on the significance of what I am doing - so just in case, here is some more detail:

    I understand that my applications add/delete/modify the contents of the following Docs & Settings folders: Application data, Templates and User Data
    Let's say that today 11/23/04, I restore my system partition (C:) to an image I created on 11/1/04.  Since the Application data, Templates and User Data are stored on D:, they are not impacted in any way and remain on D:.  The result will be that my applications (Program Files and Registry) will be as they were back on 11/1/04, but my Application data, Templates and User Data folders remain as they were today, 11/23/04 before the image restore.  AGAIN, I am not talking about backing up these folders!

    Does anybody have any SPECIFIC application examples of problems that I could experience by continuing this practice?  
    LVL 5

    Accepted Solution

    The registry search for the keys is the only time-consuming bit... about 15 minutes.

    You only need to do that procedure once.

    Once you've got that file its about 4 seconds each time to click on it to restore all the pointers in the registry.
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    What you're doing is fine, provided on each new restore of the system you fix up the registry pointers.

    The only thing you have to think about is changing versions of programs altering the schema of data files they create in those folders.

    For example, Application X version 3 writes some data files to D:\Documents and Settings\User\Application Data\Application X\

    A few months later you upgrade Application X to version 4. Without you knowing it changes the schema it uses in its data files.

    You then restore your system partition and in the process return to version 3 of Application X.

    Version 3 doesn't understand the updated schema in the data files that were written by version 4, and crashes out. You have no way of changing the format of its data files to allow it to run so have to do the manual update of Application X to version 4 again.


    Author Comment

    sorry for my long delay - thanks for your help

    Write Comment

    Please enter a first name

    Please enter a last name

    We will never share this with anyone.

    Featured Post

    How to run any project with ease

    Manage projects of all sizes how you want. Great for personal to-do lists, project milestones, team priorities and launch plans.
    - Combine task lists, docs, spreadsheets, and chat in one
    - View and edit from mobile/offline
    - Cut down on emails

    Suggested Solutions

    In a recent article here at Experts Exchange (, I discussed my nine-month sandbox testing of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, specifically with respect to r…
    I use more than 1 computer in my office for various reasons. Multiple keyboards and mice take up more than just extra space, they make working a little more complicated. Using one mouse and keyboard for all of my computers makes life easier. This co…
    Need more eyes on your posted question? Go ahead and follow the quick steps in this video to learn how to Request Attention to your question. *Log into your Experts Exchange account *Find the question you want to Request Attention for *Go to the e…
    Migrating to Microsoft Office 365 is becoming increasingly popular for organizations both large and small. If you have made the leap to Microsoft’s cloud platform, you know that you will need to create a corporate email signature for your Office 365…

    759 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

    Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

    Join & Ask a Question

    Need Help in Real-Time?

    Connect with top rated Experts

    10 Experts available now in Live!

    Get 1:1 Help Now