User profile migration – migrate user accounts

Johan Svensson
Johan Svensson used Ask the Experts™
We are looking for a comprehensive, flexible, User migration tool to use both with SCCM and as a tool on the fly.

Over the spring we conducted a user migration program “survey”. Both for implementation in our SCCM environment but also as to ascertain what possibilities we have to do migrations on the fly.
Often we need to migrate users to another PC without reinstalling the PC and we do have scripts that makes us capable of running USMT on the fly - run from, and storing to, a USB disk.

After a preliminary search on Google, we decided mainly to focus on:
USMT (as it is part of SCCM)
Forensit TransWiz and
Laplink PCmover Express, endorsed by Microsoft.

There are many other user migration solution providers, some part of deployment solution packages, some not. We checked a bunch, but Forensit and Laplink carry some weight and you can find many recommendations in forums etc. especially for Forensit. Both are commercial products
None of the two integrates in SCCM but Transwiz can theoretically be used with SCCM, as it can be run by a command line. We mainly decided to test them for “on the fly” purposes though.

Settings for most research applications we use, like Jitter, Endnote and Reference manager migrates perfectly with our own xml files.
But USMT has some real world technical issues both as to migration capabilities as well as the maintenance that has degraded alarmingly over the last years with Windows 10:
Main issues
We see BIG issues with the user interface migration (Tiles, Start menu, taskbar) that messes up.
AppX Application settings isn’t migrated.
Firefox and Chrome migrations are fixed but Firefox has to be the exact same version or it fails.
We need to check logs manually (we do it with a script) to make sure the profile backed up OK.

Forenzit and Laplink
We have tested both Forensit and Laplink out of the box in different scenarios, from Windows 7 to 10, Windows 10 to Windows 10 to/from domains and to Azure.
Overall, both Transwiz and PCMover Express works with local accounts and domain profiles in the sense that you can login afterwards. (Not all tools we tried worked. Some not at all!!)
Surprisingly both above seem to more or less just copy everything over but as we do not want user account profiles with extensive amounts of simply junk coied over, cache files, temp files etc. this is not a good scenario.

Forensit issues
Most of our custom program settings did not migrate,
PC’s with Office 365 account had a totally crashed Outlook and we had to reinstall the PC.
No help offered:
Migration to Azure simply does not work. Forensit are the only company we found offering migration to Azure but as far as we got it does not work.

Laplink issues

Most of our custom program settings did not migrate or the application would not start afterwards.
PC’s with Office 365 had a totally crashed Outlook and we had to reinstall the PC.
Laplink offers 24 hour support but during the 30 day test period we did not get any of our issues solved.

NO Microsoft Support
As Microsoft Premium support member we also had another surprise down the road. Microsoft does not assist with any issues after using third party migration software. Including Laplink that Microsoft endorses.
They simply refused to assist with our Office 365 issues after learning that we used a third party tool.

As you can probably sense, we’re disappointed. Not surprised though. The way Microsoft has smack implemented their “mobile interface” and insist on making deep technical changes every 6 months, meaning there are 6 different Windows 10 versions out there.  add to that Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 plus hundreds of thousands of programs, it actually would be a surprise if it was any different.

However wiser this leaves us back where we started. With USMT. We now have two people working full time on fixing the remaining issues as described above.

All inputs: Application suggestions and help in general is deeply appreciated.
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Distinguished Expert 2017

Migrating users from what system to what system?

In an AD environment, roaming users and/or folder redirection allows for user profile/data to follow the user no matter what system they logon into.

Only variance for profike, user settings will not transition, Windows 7 to 8 to 8.1 to 10 versions.
Thomas EhlerSystems Administrator

user settings will not transition, Windows 7 to 8 to 8.1 to 10 versions.

Hi Arnold

Actually you're not right in that assumption and it is another VERY important reason to use USMT even if you use roaming profiles!
USMT will restore the data in the OS version context.

Thus a Windows 7 V2 profile automatically lands in the Windows 10 1803 (for instance) V6 profile at restore.
(In reality what happens is that the data restores locally and when the AD user logs into her profile, data is roamed.)
Systems Administrator
Regarding USMT
I have worked intensively with SCCM, MDT and USMT for 11 years. I build custom xml configurations every month and most of your issues are solved, Including Taskbar and Tiles menu, in my Reference XML collection

Apart from improved (fixed) Start menu migration the XML collection contains the following files:

1. Improved MigApp.xml that includes Firefox- and Chrome favorites (same > same version).
2. Improved MigUser.xml including Endnote databases plus 20 extra relevant file types such as local SQL databases.
3. Alternative MigUser_Including_Downloads.xml identical to the MigUser.xml except that it migrates the Download folder.
4. Custom made ExcludeDrives_D_to_Z.xml excluding all drives other than C:
5. Custom made ExcludeSystemFolders.xml excluding system folders like c:\Program Files, c:\Windows, etc.

The XML's are downloadable from here:

AppX settings migration
"Modern UI Apps" or AppX applications is another story, as they do not install until after the user logs on. That means that all migrated settings will be overwritten. MS simply ignored the problem when hastily implementing their "Apple killer" mobile overlay...

Solution: To solve that I've developed an add-on for USMT to use with SCCM. USMT Afterburner. USMT Afterburner can be integrated into the SCCM TS and USMT migration and thereby permit for AppX settings to be effectively transferred.
Read more and download USMT Afterburner here

USMT maintenance
You are right about MS wanting us all to just move onto Azure, thus abandoning WET and USMT among many other things.  After helping people getting their AD back from a standalone Azure AD, I can only describe Azure as a balcony without a fence and a closed door behind you without a handle.

Laplink etc.
Regarding third party migration applications like Laplink etc. I cannot contribute much. But in my opinion it is a given they will not function satisfactory in a lot of situations. Windows is not what it used to be. With Windows 10 it is literally a "moving target" in the sense that the OS changes. Not every 5-7 years but every 5-7 months.

The start menu and tiles was handled one way until 1607 and then again from 1709.
Resent files was handled one way until 1704. Now it is handled "per executable"
(- not very clever when the executables (office 365) changes all the time....)

None of the traditional vendors are up to speed with that.
Johan SvenssonAdministrator


Very good explanations from Thomas as to why migrations of ModernUI apps doesn't seem to migrate. They actually do! but the data is overwritten because MS does really bad implementations, simply ignoring previous tools (like USMT) when implementing new things. :-(

As to a flexible stand alone solution, Ehlertech even has a professional GUI for running USMT, with USMT fully integrated and updated!
This is not free software but neither is SCCM and all my techs can use the GUI without any restrictions and without needing to run a Task Sequence.
Thomas EhlerSystems Administrator

Hi Johan

Thank you for the nice feedback and suggestions on improvements!
The "DefaultsXML.lst" idea for making it possible to preselect xml files is brilliant.

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