Zedan IT Blog

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Migrate windows users profiles from a workgroup to a domain

I had to  create an active directory domain for a company which is already in business for years with about 200 Desktop / Laptop computers.  All of them were standalone computers and even no specific workgroup.   We had to implement special services which require a domain to have a repository for account and be able to manage user settings.   It seemed easy at the beginning as there was no special considerations such as migrating or upgrading or moving from old domain.

A standard practice for situations like this when you need to join these computers to the new constructed domain, you will simply join the machine to the domain then you wiil need to login to the domain with the new user account to create the new profile,  then you will have to manually move all files from My Documents, Desktop,  Email settings, PST files , and so on.   This is a very time consuming task and will make IT support staff hate the idea of having a domain, especially that they lived for years without knowing what domain is.

I had to find a solution to do that in a simple way, as I thought if the files are stored on the hard disk, and the profile specific configuration is stored in the registry, then by making a change in the registry then the mission will be acomplished.

I started to search for topics on this issue, and found a lot of discussions on the internet by several IT proffisionals facing the same issues, and explaining how to make registry change, login/logoff/login/logoff then copy move,…….    It seems very difficult and risky, as we can not afford to loose (or forget to move a file) from users profiles.  And if we wanted to be wise, we should do it in the classical way.   Till I found a post in a forum from a user simply advice the users to use a a tool designed for that.

I decided to to give it a try, and it was amzing to see how it did it in miniutes without errors.

The tool is “User Profile Wizard – profwiz.exe”  and you can download it from http://www.forensit.com  and the great thing that it is FREE.

If you download its manual, you will find that it has a lot of options and a configuration that can be saved and used later and many things.   And honestly if you read it and try all the feature you will waste alot of time, while it simply can do the tasks in minutes.  You can simply do the following.

Copy the tool to the computer you want to join the domain, Double Click it, the window of user account infomation will ask you about the domain you want to join and the Domain User Name.   For eaxmple, if the computer has local user profile “User” and the Domain name is “CompanyDomain” and the created Domain username is “DomainUser”,  then you will enter “CompanyDomain”  in the field “Enter the Domain”.   And enter the DomainUser in the field “Enter The Account name” –  Check the box of “Join Domain” to let Profile Wizard join the computer to the domain in addition of creating the new profile.

Click Next to open the “Select User Profile Window”.  In this window you will choose the local user profile that you want to migrate to the domain.  The window will list all local profiles, you can select only one at a time (if you have more then one profile you can run Profwiz.exe again without checking the box of join domain and select another local profile to migrate).  Then Click Next.

The next window will ask you for the Domain User account, which is the account with permission to join the domain, it could be a domain administrator account or an IT user with privilge to joint the computer to the domain.

Normally the above procedure will not take more than few minutes depending on the size of the local profile files, and when finished you will need to restart the computer and then the user can login to the domain with all his old profile setting.

20 responses to “Migrate windows users profiles from a workgroup to a domain

  1. scott maccready 25/03/2012 at 2:01 AM

    I also found this solution. HOWEVER, It seems incomplete. For example, it didn’t move profile contents from the workstation to the server. Is this because the AD accounts weren’t set up as ‘roaming’?
    As i tried to move the folders of the profile manually (by changing the location in the properties of My Documents or Favorites, I get msg boxes indicating that I don’t have permission. Upon inspection of the target folders, I found them marked ‘Read Only’. Even after removing that flag, I still can’t move content while logged in under the AD user account with full control over the server-side folders.

    Any ideas?

    • Zedan 27/03/2012 at 2:30 AM

      Actually our concern was finding a quick and safe way to join 200+ workstations to the domain and it was a quick solution as doing that in the classical way with this number of workstation would take months as we would need to backup the profile > join the domain > restore the profile contents. And some prfiles have huge files > 1 GB.

      So we focused on this part of the application and we do not have users profiles on server.

      Regarding the other issue of read only folders, my staff has reported the same issue for for about 10 workstation out of more than 200, and the user could not open his files migrated from the old local profile. So, we solved this by logging in as a local admin (or dmain admin which is local admin as well) then take ownership of the folders, then give full permissions on these folders to the original owner.

      I hope this simple solution help you.

  2. Jack 12/03/2013 at 4:35 PM

    HI thank you for the great post but a question do we have to create the user name on the DC before we run the program or the program will create it, if so we need to give the admin account to create the user or make a delegation

    please advise.

    • Zedan 24/03/2013 at 4:00 AM


      In our case we have created the users in advance, and it was created by the administrator. And I think it would make no difference if the accounts created by a delegated person.

  3. CT 18/05/2013 at 4:08 PM

    hi, can we use this tool if the target PC is currently joining a domain (let say domain A), and i want to join the PC to a new domain B?

  4. Mazhar Khan 02/06/2013 at 8:21 AM

    Dear Zedan,

    This tool can be used if the local user is not an administrator or the local admin account is blocked or Disabled or not having an unique account.

  5. reza 31/07/2013 at 12:25 PM

    اگر بر روی یک کامپیوتر چند یوزر وجود داشته باشد چگونه میتوان دسک تاپ همه آنهارا عوض کرد
    Yvzr If there is a computer on a desktop how to change all of them

  6. que es la carboxiterapia 07/08/2013 at 8:34 PM

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  7. Wesley Fikes 09/08/2013 at 7:59 PM

    So, this is only a software to copy profile, and not data, is that correct?

    • Zedan 09/08/2013 at 8:51 PM

      The data will remain where it was but the references in the profile will be updated. For example , mydocuments folder will remain where it was but will be accessable from the new profile.

      • yusaf 15/08/2013 at 10:49 PM

        I used the profile wizard today. I dont understand the wizard that well.This is what I want to do. I have a profile on the client machine which is part of a domain called ” PROMO ” however this domain server dont exist any more and I’m setting a new server with the same domain name ”PROMO” . when connected the client machine it created a new user profile. HOw do I get the original profile to migrate over the new one.

  8. yusaf 16/08/2013 at 8:45 AM

    Do I need to be logged in the ”new user” a/c then run profilewiz.exe and then migrate to , and select the ”old user”profile to have his profile copied to the ”new user”. NOTE: I can no longer log in the ”old user” account but i can see the profile in the select user profile window

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  10. Maybell 25/08/2013 at 10:15 AM

    You are so interesting! I don’t suppose I have read something like that before. So good to find somebody with some unique thoughts on this subject. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This site is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality!

  11. prestamos personales 27/09/2013 at 7:42 PM

    I am now not positive the place you are getting your information, but great topic.

    I must spend some time finding out more or figuring out more.
    Thank you for great information I used to be looking for
    this information for my mission.

  12. Amr Elsayed 07/10/2013 at 12:28 PM

    When I used ıt. I can’t see any user data

  13. skydive 05/05/2014 at 12:52 AM

    worked perfectly! thank you very much!!!

  14. Philippe Adib 16/05/2014 at 3:31 PM

    It’s free for personal user, I honestly hope you paid for your copy.

    It’s only fair.

  15. John from Cleveland 22/12/2014 at 6:26 PM

    It isnt free at all. In fact it installs a windows service that runs all the time. Disable it and it stops working. This is not a fix. This program did NOT move the profile it creates a link to it. It looks like it works until you turn that service off. Uninstall the program and that service is STILL running. After 30 days it prompts you to BUY it. DONT install this program. The price of the software is like 60 dollars per workstation. Absolutely ridiculous Id file this under “Trickware”

    • Zedan 23/12/2014 at 12:08 AM

      The application we used is free and I confirm that ut moved the profile and there was no trial period or a service installed. We used this free application in 2012 and may be you tried another application with different version or they changed their mind and made it with a price.

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