How to copy a roaming directory from one server to another server

Created 28th November, 2005 06:53 (UTC), last edited 24th January, 2006 19:39 (UTC)

Roaming profiles are pretty useful, but they do only work if you have a domain controller (not much use for home networks therefore).

Due to the security settings on them though they can be difficult to move from one file server to another. Here is a procedure that I use.

The procedure

Before doing any of this it is going to be best if the user is already logged out of all workstations.

On the original file server

  1. Take ownership of the profile directory. This will allow you to change the permissions such that the profile's files become visible.
  2. Replace the security permissions on all files. Normally the inherited security settings should be fine.
  3. Rename the profile. Normally I put a single underscore at the beginning of the profile directory. This allows you to make sure that the new profile is being used and not the old one.
  4. In the user's profile settings change the server name to the new server.

Now copy the files to the new server. Personally I use robocopy to do this.

On the new file server

  1. Replace the owner on the files to the Administrators group. If you don't do this then the loading of the profile will fail with a security error.

Don't forget that you should also turn off file caching on the profile share settings.


By doing this of course the administrator has to break open the security that is placed on the roaming profile files. This means that an unscrupulous administrator has an excuse the delve into files that they shouldn't and the normal tracing (ownership, audit etc.) will look as expected for the profile move.