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In Windows XP: Migrating from the general Administrator Account to a Personal User Account...how?
July 19, 2006 3:59 PM   Subscribe

In Windows XP: Migrating from the general Administrator Account to a Personal User Account...how?

So I was lazy when I first started using my IBM Thinkpad with Windows XP Professional and I just used the default "Administrator" user account for all my computer needs (please don't hate me sys admins). This apathy continued for about a year, but now I want to do something about it.

I created a personal user account, but when I log in I

Don't have access to my 14GB My Music folder that I was using
All my customized shortcuts/icons are gone
Firefox settings, Thunderbird, etc are all gone.

So is there a quick way to "clone" the administrator account into a personal account appropriate for everyday use? I really don't want to go back and set everything up the way I like it.
(side note: another reason why I want to switch to a personal account is b/c my Thinkpad makes me manually activate the Wireless Radio EVERY time I turn the computer on, which is really annoying)
posted by MaverickX to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
 
You need the User State Migration Tool.
posted by purephase at 5:01 PM on July 19, 2006


The User State Migration Tool is meant for administrators of networks who need to script multiple migrations at once or otherwise do network-admin type stuff with them, meaning it's a little cryptic to use, and a little overkill.

The Files and Settings Transfer Wizard is what's meant for use by the average Joe, and frankly, it's what I use at work when transferring users of my network to a new PC.

Log in as Administrator, go to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Files And Settings Transfer Wizard. Don't just go with the defaults, read all the settings and choose the ones that apply to you.

Of course, once you finish the process, you'll have duplicates of everything that was copied, and it probably won't get your Firefox and Thunderbird data. Probably miss a few other programs too. Personally, I'd do this:

Log in as Administrator. Move all the files you want to keep into your new user profile, which will be in "C:\Documents and Settings\username\"

Make sure you can see hidden folders. (Tools -> Options -> View tab, under Hidden Files and Folders make the appropriate choice.) Copy (don't move, just in case) the contents of the Application Data and Local Settings folders. Your Firefox and Thunderbird data are in there, along with other stuff.

Move the files in Desktop and My Documents to the new profile. Or, if you want to be really sure they don't end up somewhere weird, move them somewhere like "C:\music" and "C:\desktop", then move them to their new homes when you log in under your new user account.
posted by CrayDrygu at 6:36 PM on July 19, 2006


That said, using Windows from an account not named "Administrator" doesn't buy you much security or peace of mind, unless you're crazy enough to try to use a non-privileged account. (Which really would be the right thing to do but for all the software which explodes when run as such.)

So you needn't feel too guilty about using the Administrator account--it's got the same privileges as just about every other user account.
posted by Coda at 6:50 PM on July 19, 2006


Using a non-privileged account is sane, not crazy. If trojans don't have admin privileges, they can't install crap on your machine.

Also sane is all the swearing you're going to do at all those slack pricks who won't write code that's easy to run in a limited account.

Does your Thinkpad have "IBM Access Connections" installed? Because that should make your wireless issues go away.

When you're moving files around like CrayDrygu says, DO do that by copying, not moving. That way, the files will end up with security permissions derived from the folders you're copying them into, instead of keeping their original permissions. If you are indeed setting up a limited user account, you won't have access permissions on files MOVED (as opposed to COPIED) from the C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator subtree.

Only once you're sure everything is where it should be in the new account, should you log back on as Administrator and delete the originals.
posted by flabdablet at 7:18 PM on July 19, 2006


flabdablet: Trying to use a non-privileged account on Windows XP is crazy for a lot of home users. Obviously it's the right thing to do, but Windows software developers are, for the most part, blissfully unaware of the various constraints of multi-user environments. I've run into more than a handful of apps (most of them on which I was dependent) which, when presented with a permissions error, would plop right down on their doughy ass and begin to cry. Those "slack pricks" kind of set the tone for the entire operating system, and I'd be surprised if MaverickX doesn't begin to experience this form of joy after the switch.

More on topic, you can find workarounds for most of these problems at nonadmin. And God knows there are a lot of problems with running a non-administrator account.

Best of luck, MaverickX! You'll certainly learn quite a bit about the Windows registry!
posted by Coda at 8:17 PM on July 19, 2006


Right click My Computer and select Properties.
On the advanced tab, under User Profiles, choose Settings
Select your current Administrator account (I use it too!)
click Copy To and choose the directory of your current (or a new) user.
Then log in with the new user.

Firefox/Thunderbird profiles are stored in your documents and settings folder, as is your My Music. The above steps (basically just copying the Documents and Settings\administrator directory) will do what you need, and even keep your wallpaper, etc. I think you'll have to place your icons again...

Also, if you have any luck actually running windows as a non-administrator, let me know how you did it. Frustrations galore! Sudo for Windows anyone?
posted by hoborg at 8:27 PM on July 19, 2006


hoborg has a good solution and it was my first thought to post it. The only drawback is that with 14gb of music data in your profile (plus whatever else is in there) copying the profile will not remove this old data, it will simply make another copy of it. When you're in the profile management section, you can see just how large the Administrator profile is. Remember, that copying that profile onto another will not remove those files. If you've got a lot of HD space to spare then it may not be an issue, but if you don't, I honestly believe the USMT is your best bet.

It is a little difficult to use at first, but it will pick-up all those Application specific settings, documents, desktop/quick launch settings etc. and if executed properly, will not leave duplicate data in multiple profiles.
posted by purephase at 7:13 AM on July 20, 2006


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