Windows 7 - Migrate Local Profiles to Domain Profiles in 5 Steps and 5 Minutes Using Registry Tweak

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Windows 7 Profile Migration

Don't waste hours using time consuming profile migration tools when you can do it in minutes using a simple registry tweak. This technique can be used to migrate local profiles to domain profiles, domain profiles to local profiles, and domain profiles to domain profiles. It simply involves modifying a registry value and changing the permissions on the user directory and registry hives. In my example, I will be migrating a local profile on Windows 7 to a domain profile. My local user's account name is "user" and my domain user's account name is "tuser". The local user is part of the Local Administrators group. The Domain User is not part of the Local Administrators group, but it won't matter if it is (This tutorial was tested with UAC turned off.) If you or your company finds this tutorial useful, helpful, or time saving, please consider making a donation with the paypal link on the right. This helps with the authors time and hosting bills. Thanks

This has been tested on many production and test environments. In our test environment, here is a list of customizations and software installed and configured on the local user's account:

  • Microsoft Outlook (Outlook Anywhere Account)
  • Microsoft Outlook (POP Account)
  • Google Chrome (All user version and user directory version)
  • Microsoft Office
  • Personalized profile (Custom background, Desktop Shortcuts, Favorites, Start Menu and Taskbar)


It is important to note that after you migrate the profile, the saved passwords in Outlook will be lost. This is not a big deal because Outlook will prompt you to enter the password when you launch it (and you do remember your email password, right???). You can use a tool like SIW.exe to retrieve the email passwords before you migrate. You should not receive any errors during or after these steps. If you do, leave a comment and we can try to help. If you are seeking professional remote or on-site support with this, we offer support as an hourly or project charge, depending on your setup. Contact us at support at itswapshop dot com for more info.

I have simplified the entire process into 5 easy steps. I also have a much longer step-by-step guide with pictures below. If this is your first time, I recommend following the full guide. If you are looking for a refresher, follow the quick guide.

Quick Guide - 5 Step Local to Domain Profile Migration:

  1. Join to Domain, restart, and then login as local user.
  2. Grant full permission on c:\users\local_user to domain user and make sure to check "Replace all child object permissions with inheritable permissions from this object".
  3. While still logged in as local user, open regedit and grant full control on the HKEY_CURRENT_USER key to domain user. Make sure to check "Replace all child object permissions with inheritable permissions from this object".
  4. Expand HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList. Each key here is associated with a user account on this computer. Go through each key and look at the "ProfileImagePath" string. Find the string for the local user and copy it. Paste it into the same string for the domain user. Now delete the entire key for the local user under the ProfileList key.
  5. Restart and login as the domain user.

It's as simple as that. If you want more details, here is the full guide:

Full Guide - Migrate Local Profile to Domain Profile in 5 Minutes:

1.) To begin, join the computer to the domain, reboot, and login as the local user (if you're not sure how to login as the local user after it's been joined to the domain, add the .\ prefix to the local users account name).

2.) In Explorer, right click on c:\users\local_user and choose properties. On the Security tab, click advanced:

Windows 7 Profile Migration 1

3.) On the permissions tab, click Change Permissions. Click Add and enter the domain user account name (Since you are logged in as the local user, you need to provide domain admin credentials to assign the domain user full control permissions. Enter the domain admin credentials and click OK):

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4.) Check Allow Full Control and click OK. Only check "Replace all child object permissions with inheritable permissions from this object" and click OK again. Click Yes on "This will replace explicitly defined permissions on all descendants of this object with inheritable permissions from local_user". Click OK on the "Advanced Security Settings for local_user" window and then on the "local_user Properties" window.

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Windows 7 Profile Migration 5.1

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5.) Hold down the Windows Key and press "R" to open the run box. Type "regedit" in it and click OK:

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6.) Right click on HKEY_CURRENT_USER and choose permissions. On the Security tab, click Advanced

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7.) On the Permissions tab, click Add. Enter username of domain user and click OK (Since you are logged in as the local user, you need to provide domain admin credentials to assign the domain user full control permissions. Enter the domain admin credentials and click OK):

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8.) Check Allow Full Control and click OK. Only check "Replace all child object permissions with inheritable permissions from this object" and click OK. Click Yes on "This will replace explicitly defined permissions on all descendants of this object with inheritable permissions from HKEY_CURRENT_USER". Click OK on the Permissions for HKEY_CURRENT_USER window:

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9.)  Expand the "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList" key (I recommend right clicking on the ProfileList key and clicking export to make a backup of it). Each Key under ProfileList corrosponds to a user account. If you select one of the keys, the Value of the String "ProfileImagePath" will show you what user account it is for. Find the local user and the domain user keys:

Windows 7 Profile Migration 18

10.) For the local user's key, copy the ProfileImagePath String value, and paste it into the ProfileImagePath String Value for the domain user:

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11.) Right Click on the local user's key and click Delete. Click Yes to confirm the deletion:

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12.) You are finished. Restart and login as the domain user.

Do I have to delete the local user's key if I need to switch accounts betweeb local and domain?

If you want to switch between being a local and domain user (I can't think of a reason you would want to), then I recommend backing up the "ProfileList" key before and after do the migration. You would still delete the local users key, but if you needed to go back to being a local user account, just restore the "before migration" registry backup. Then when you want to go back to being a domain user, restore the "after migration" registry backup.

Hi, this is because there some restrictions under domain account, therefor I need to switch.
"before migration" registry backup, do you mean only the ProfileList key of the original local account? or I also need to backup the domain account which I altered?

Do I have to delete the local user's key if I need to switch accounts between local and domain?

This is really helpful.

It mostly works for me (on a Windows 8 slate) except I get a crash in Internet Explorer Control Panel when exiting Internet Explorer (IE 10)

My IE config is set to delete all cached files on exit, and with some judicious changing of options, it is the deletion of "Cookies And Website Data" option that causes the error (does not occur when unchecked). Seems to point to some sort of permissions problem somewhere in the IE browser cache. Have dug around and changed a few things but the problem does not go away.

Problem signature:
Problem Event Name: APPCRASH
Application Name: rundll32.exe_inetcpl.cpl
Application Version: 6.2.9200.16384
Application Timestamp: 50109cdd
Fault Module Name: Flash.ocx
Fault Module Version: 11.3.378.5
Fault Module Timestamp: 50bdbb8b
Exception Code: c0000005

Also, just an observation, but I think that the bulk setting of the permissions on the local users profile overwrites the read permission for "NT Service\WMPNetworkSvc" on any Music folders that have been shared in WMP so would make the files invisible to the WMP sharing service and so not visible to other PCs / media devices.

Tried resetting the IE settings, and fiddling with the WebCache permissions, neither worked.

The problem only went away after I de-installed and reinstalled IE10

Thanks, I plan on doing some in-depth testing of this method on Windows 8 in the future. I will post a revised tutorial when I do.

Do you have to log in as the domain user before you start the process? When I expand HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE down to the profile list, I can't find a profile for the domain user, only for the local users.

Yes, Step 1 of the 5-Step guide should be this:

Join to Domain, restart, login as domain user, restart and then login as local user. 

I used RunAs from a CMD prompt to start an arbitrary application as the domain user while logged in as the local user. This created the domain user's profile folder and ProfileList multiple login required

Thanks for the tip. This should make the process even quicker!

Wonderfull mate! this works perfect for windows 8!!

I suppose that for migrating domain profile to a local profile a should do a reverse procedure? I tried but it didn`t work. As a result I ve got the domain prifile looks like local and other way around. Please advice what should I do to make this work?

I want to create local user profile from domain user profile. I dont have connection to the domain but I have domain admin password. After I do that I want to unjoin coputer from the domain. Never mind the replication, network drives etc. I only need all applications and their settings, e mail account and data to be reachable...

Thanks in advance



This method should work if you reverse the local/domain user order, as long as you follow it exactly. If you have any trouble with it, check out this older tutorial for XP:

There were problems with it on Windows 7, so this newer tutorial was written to correct the issues. The older tutorial may help you out in your situation.

I've done this several times, but got stuck on a permissions issue. For some reason it's not setting the permissions for my domain user on the App Data hidden file or any subfolder for that matter during step 2 of the quick steps. I had to manually edit the permissions for each subfolder and set the domain user to full control in order for it to take effect. I could see it working when I did it your way, but when I double checked it, nothing was getting set. Very weird, but once I manually overwrote the permissions, everything was golden.

Thanks, I will go back over it in my test environment and see if I can find the problem.

On Step 6, what do I do if I am accessing the Registry from the local Admin account? Do I still edit the properties on HKEY_CURRENT_USER even though the current user is my admin account, not the local profile that I am changing into a domain profile? There are issues that prevent me from logging on as the local user.

No, you only edit HKEY_CURRENT_USER if you are logged in as the local user's profile that you are trying to covert to a domain profile. If you can't log in as the local user, you can take a look at this older tutorial for XP:

It shows how to load the users ntuser.dat and usrclass.dat files without being logged in as that user. But you will likely have issues if you do it this way. This older tutorial wouldn't work right on Windows 7, so I revised it using the methods outlined here. If it's just an issue of you don't have the password to login, or they aren't there right now, I suggest waiting on them to give you the password so you can follow the tutorial.

The main issue is that explorer crashes whenever I log into their local user account, and I'm using this as a last ditch effort to see if I can save their data.

Will this procedure work with moving a profile from one domain to another?

Yes, but in addition to this tutorial, you may want to take a look at this tutorial for XP. It shows how to change the permissions on the ntuser.dat & usrclass.dat files from another user account.

Thanks for the posting. In my case a domain user account had been deleted and then recreated using the original username. I still had a copy of the data profile files for the original user profile and came across the "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList" fix described in microsoft's KB947215. But although all the security permissions for the files and sub directories in "C:/user/username/"were updated correctly with the new userID, the recreated user could not access anything.

It was your reference to granting full control on Advanced security settings on HKEY_CURRENT_USER key to the domain user that was the fix.In my case the domain user existed, and I needed to elevate them to administrator before updating the HKEY_CURRENT_USER key, but after that all was well. Thank you.

Hi, thanks for this very useful tutorial!
I've some question about it. Starting from XP tutorial, and comparing with this Win7 tutorial, I'm asking myself:
1) why is no more needed to take ownership of the user folder and then give it back to SYSTEM??
2) changing user permissions on HKEY_CURRENT_USER registry key (and childs) is the same to load hives from ntuser.dat and usrclass.dat and change manually permission on both?
3) changing permissions from inside regedit on HKEY_CURRENT_USER is *NOT* the same that changing permission on filesystem for files ntuser.dat and usrclass.dat, right?


If in step 4 I copied the "ProfileImagePath" string to the "Default" profile, it would then clone that profile to any new profiles created on that machine right? Both local and Domain?

Thank you for this helpful guide.

I'm in the process of adding new machines to a domain at a remote office. Some of these machines are stand-alone and others are members of a soon-to-be-retired legacy domain.

Is a local account a necessary intermediate step for allowing a new domain's user account access to the user account and profile settings of the old domain?
(e.g. Give local access to old domain account -> remove PC from old domain -> add PC to new domain -> add new domain user -> give new domain user rights to local account -> new domain user has access to old domain account profile, data, etc.)

Doesnt work on windows 8 windows store apps dont work and log on issues with taksbar and desktop

actually, there is an even easier way:
1. once you've set up the local account the way you want it, go to C:\Users\ and rename Default to Default.bak

2. copy the local profile there and rename it to Default. don't forget to hide it (just the folder, not the contents)

any new accounts will use the settings from this new Default folder :)
you can always change the original Default folder back afterwards if you so choose.

Can you explain the Domain to Local approach? you say reverse the local to domain process. So I would
1. unjoin domain, restart and then login as local user
2. grant full permission to the c:\users\domain_user
3. while still logged inopen regedit
4. Expand the HKLM\software
5. login as local user

Then from Domain to Domain
1. Join new domain, restart, login as new domain user
2. Grant Full Permission to c:\users\olddomain_user
3. while still logged in as new domain user open regedit and grant full control
4. Expand HKLM\
5. Restart and login as new domain user?

We are starting a big migration project and we are removing from current domain and making local user on half our machines and then on the other half we are Unjoining old domain and joining new domain...Thanks in advance for all your support in this subject. Could save us days of work, if it works...

From Domain to Local would go something like this:

1. Create local account & login with it

2. Login with the domain account you will be migrating.

3. Change permissions on user & registry hive like in the article

4. Login with administrative account, & change the profile key like in the article (make the local users profile path point to the domain user's user folder), and then delete the key for the domain user.

5. Unjoin from domain, reboot, and login with local user

This is essentially the process

Migrating a profile from domain to another domain should be very similar to the steps I listed in my comment about going from a domain profile to a local profile. However, you will likely have to join the computer to the new domain, log in with the new account, assign your new domain account permissions over the old domain user's home folder, then load the old users to registry hives, as described somewhere in this article, I believe in the comments, and assign the new domain user permission on them, then modify the profile list key like normal.

I have not done this before, so I may be missing a step, or that may not be entirely accurate, but it will work, and those are rough steps on how to do it.

I have been having a problem where the migration works, but Chrome will no longer allow the user to go to any pages that were book marked when they were logged in as the local user. Has anyone had similar issues?

thank you verry much for this tips....

I searched far and wide on the Internet for a solution to this problem and spent hours trying to do this exact thing. Thank god I finally found this blog because it saved me so much time and headache. Quick, and easy to follow guide, definitely a huge help. Thanks so much to the poster!

Just tested this on Windows 8.1 and it seems to have worked flawlessly! Thanks!

Did a couple of extra things;
Had to change owner on both users\[local] and HKCU to apply permissions properly.
Deleted users\[local]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Internet Explorer because permissions weren't applying to this folder.

This was a fairly fresh install of Windows so not a TON of apps.
Chrome, Steam, 7-Zip, Skype, CCCP, etc.

Many thanks for the info! I'll be migrating about 60 computers in the coming weeks. I've tried the Windows 7 migration wizard before with limited success. I look forward to seeing how this works out for us. Thanks again!

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