Can you join a domain without losing user's settings...

I have a small remote office with 7 ermployees.  For whatever the reason, their pc's were never joined to our domain.  I recently upgraded their firewall and have a nice lan2lan VPN established, and now I want to join all their pc's to our domain.  When I experimented with an old laptop, I joined it to the domain, and all the user settings were lost.  My question is, is there any way to do this without then having to totally recreate their user profiles?  (having to copy all their My Docs, favorites, desktop items and settings, recreating outlook profiles and moving archive folders, etc. from the old user folder to the newly created user folder) ?

Thanks
mchad65Asked:
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Is your domain based on Small Business Server?  If so, if you connect it correctly with the ConnectComputer web page, you have the option of easily migrating the settings.  Others, have you experimented with the User State Migration Tool (USMT)?

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc722032.aspx
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mchad65Author Commented:
No, it is a native 2003 domain.  I haven't seen that tool.  Let me take a look.  Thanks
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mchad65Author Commented:
From what I can see (from my brief review) is that the tool copies profiles to a server and then back.  With the gigs of archived mail and documents, over a trans atlantic vpn connection, i'll be dead of old age before it finishes...  Don't see it as a good option.  Maybe I haven't read enough...
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Brian PiercePhotographerCommented:
You can join the machine to the domain, when the user log on a new profile will be created. You can log on ad administrator. take ownership of the old profile http://support.microsoft.com/kb/268019 and copy the files to the new profile.
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kfarnham67Commented:
if you use the file and settings transfer wizzard on the XP disc to copy the profile off before joining it to the domain. Then once the user logs on, run the wizzard again to put the settings back, the user will have all their stuff back including desktop backrounds, favorites, printers etc. If they have a PST file in outlook make sure you include it in the wizzard.

Here is a quick primer on the wizzard.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb457074.aspx
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