[XP] Renaming a User Account

Posted on 2014-07-16
Last Modified: 2014-07-20
I'm in the process of moving my applications from an older PC (with Win2000) to a newer one (with Win7 and VirtualBox/XP).

I've already installed and configured a number of legacy applications on the XP, however I have run into a problem with Outlook. Although the program works beautifully, I am not able to get my old Outlook Favorites to work on the new system.  

This is because the .FAV file (which contains the settings for Favorites) references PST files by their physical location. For example:
C:\Documents and Settings\GARY\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\GG-Outlook-P2_Main.pst

In other words, the FAV file is instructing Outlook to look for the PST in  C:\Documents and Settings\GARY\....  \Outlook\
However on the new computer, the XP user is Administrator (not Gary).

So the question is..... can this problem be rectified by renaming the user "Administrator"   to  "Gary" ?

Accounts can be renamed in XP by going to
     Control Panel > AdministrativeTools > ComputerManagement >  SystemTools > LocalUsersAndGroups > Users
     Then right-click the user and rename

The XP Product Documentation says the following about renaming users:  "Because it retains its security identifier (SID), a renamed user account retains all its other properties, such as its description, password, group memberships, user environment profile, account information, and any assigned permissions and rights.

>  user account retains all its .... user environment profile, account information

I guess that means the user's home folder will not change
      from     C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\
       to         C:\Documents and Settings\GARY\

Is there any way to rename the user account as well as the home folder, in a way that does not cause havoc to currently installed applications?
Perhaps there's some utility that will do this???
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Question by:CE101

    Author Comment

    I did a little more research and found the following article
    "I've often run into a situation where either a computer I use (or manage) has been set up with the wrong username, or someone else's machine has been set up with the wrong username. Perhaps it's a username that the user in question doesn't like, or maybe it's been misspelled or is just plain incorrect. The usual procedure is to rename the existing user account on that machine -- that is, if it's not a domain account -- but renaming an existing user account under Windows XP can be quirky.  ........  When a user account is created, a number of resources are also created with it that carry the user's name. The most obvious is the user's profile directory on that machine, which is "branded" with the name; similarly branded objects exist in the Registry as well. If you change the user's name by hand, these objects will not be automatically renamed. If you go looking for a user directory for "Fred" and find instead a directory named "Phil," it's confusing, and you may wonder what happened to poor Fred!   .........   Rather than renaming a user account that's been in use for some time, try this: Create a new user profile with the proper name, migrate the old profile into the new one and delete the old one after everything is settled. Copying a user's profile data in Windows XP can be done by right-clicking on My Computer | Properties, then Advanced | User Profiles | Settings and using the Copy To function to select a target profile folder.   "

    In summary, the author recommends Copying the account to another account rather than Renaming it.

    (1) Let's say I copy the account to a new account and remove the old one, will the currently installed applications continue to work ok?
    (2) I followed the path (above)  ...  
         MyComputer > Properties > Advanced > UserProfiles > Settings    
         However I did not see a CopyTo function.  Where is it?  
                      Note:   I'm using XP Pro vs 2002 Service Pack 3).
    Also see
    That article warns:   "Though you can move or rename the user profile folder, there may be some side effects after using this method. This is because of the reason that there may be some absolute path references (to the old user profile folder) in the registry added by third-party software. Therefore, there may be a loss of functionality in the respective applications."

    Are there any utilities on the market that will handle the renaming or copying of accounts in a holistic fashion, making sure to change all absolute path references in the Registry, so that currently installed applications can run properly?
    LVL 3

    Accepted Solution

    If you create a new profile then log in as the old, you will be able to browse to the user's profile folder and copy the old file and folders to the new user's profile folder.  Be sure to turn on view hidden files and folder first.  You will want to over write the exsisting files in the new user's profile folder.  That has always worked for me in the past.

    Author Comment

    Hi Jeremy:

    Thank you for responding.

    The question still remains:  
    (1) Will the currently installed applications continue to work ok?
    (2) How do I inherit the Registry settings created by these application under the old account into the new account?
    LVL 3

    Assisted Solution

    by:Jeremy Tyre
    Yes and no... your settings for the applications will transfer.  The Registry settings will not transfer.  However, unless the programs are specifically tied to an account, such as will only run under that account, then you should be fine.

    I found one program that can do this, but you have to pay for it.  That's Laplink PCmover.

    Author Comment

    Hi Jeremy:

    Thank you for the response.

    I checked the Laplink Pcmover page (  
    It doesn’t mention anything about copying  a UserAccount to another account in XP.
    The program seems to be geared towards migration from older systems to Win7 and Win8.
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    by:Jeremy Tyre
    When I was using Laplink at an old job the is a part in it that allows you to select a profile to move into a target profile on the new system.  However, I would not purchasing it just for this purpose.  I will do some research and see what I can come up with.  The biggest hurdle here are those registry entries.
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    by:Jeremy Tyre
    BTW, I just found the Copy To under the Profiles stored on this computer in the user profile settings.

    Author Comment

    > I just found the Copy To
    > under the Profiles stored
    > on this computer in the user profile settings.

    I don't follow what you mean.

    When I go to  UsersAccounts (from ControlPanel) there are only three options:  
    (1) Change an account
    (2) Create a new account
    (3) Change the way users logon or off

    Nothing about CopyTo.
    (I am logged in as Administrator).

    FYI, there is an MS article explaining what files need to be copied from one user account to another.
    But it doesn’t say anything about the Registry settings.

    Author Closing Comment

    Thank you

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