Windows XP: How can I migrate a user's regsitry settings (NTUSER.DAT) from one install to another?
August 12, 2004 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Windows XP: How can I migrate a user's regsitry settings (NTUSER.DAT) from one install to another? (more inside)

The old install crashed without warning, so I wasn't able to export the hives or use the "Transfer Files and Settings" Wizard. Here's what I've tried so far:
  • Pointing Windows to the old profile (X:\Documents and Settings\Username) by specifying it in the "User Profile" field of the Users and Groups Manager (lusrmgr.msc). This almost worked--visual preferences and such were as they were supposed to be--but Windows insisted treating the "old" profile as though it were a roaming profile; changes were not reliably saved and restored to the same physical location.
  • Letting Windows create a new profile (C:\Documents and Settings\Username) and then XCopying the old profile over the new. Though applications reliably found and loaded the XCopied data files, Windows appears unable to load the old NTUSER.DAT at all in this scenario; users' desktops appeared with a bright pink background and the "Classic" Windows UI style. A quick look at RegEdit revealed a bare-minimum, defaults-only user registry.
It seems like a minor problem, but I really don't want to have to tell my users to "deal with it." The information is all there, I just need to find the right way to get Windows to recognize it! Help!
posted by kjh to Computers & Internet (2 answers total)
Response by poster: Nevermind, I figured it out myself. Permissions problem; in case anyone was wondering:
  1. Start RegEdit as Administrator.
  2. Select the "HKEY_USERS" key.
  3. Choose "Load Hive..." from the File menu, navigate to the user's NTUSER.DAT, and give the hive an appropriate name.
  4. Right click on the top key and choose Permissions.
  5. Remove the SID for the user from the old install and give Full Control to the real user.
  6. Click Advanced, and check the box for applying this change to all subkeys.
  7. Click OK until you're back to RegEdit.
  8. Select the top key and choose "Unload Hive" from the File menu.
  9. Repeat for each user.
posted by kjh at 3:29 PM on August 12, 2004

Or you can export the entire HKEY_CURRENT_USER tree to a text file in regedit, then replace HKEY_CURRENT_USER with the appropriate string ("HKEY_USERS/S-1-5-N"), and import the file in regedit. Beware, though, that some programs and components may write unique IDs into the tree which will no longer work properly when imported because the user GUID has changed (not sure about the specifics).
posted by azazello at 3:54 PM on August 12, 2004

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