How to Upgrade to Windows 8.1 With User Profiles on Different Drive

Some of you may own SSD’s and set those bad boys up as your OS/Primary drive, but of course right now they are far too small for storing all your music/videos/documents that hang around inside your user profile so you may have moved your profile to the D: drive or something.

All is good with the world until you try to upgrade and you get the following error:

“Sorry, it looks like this PC can’t run Windows 8.1. This might be because the Users or Program Files folder is being redirected to another partition.”

I searched the web and found lots of people who gave up and wiped/reinstalled Windows 8 then did an upgrade of a fresh system but I found a way that worked for me.

Step 1: Backup registry keys.

Export the contents of HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList to somewhere outside the user profile (C:\Temp) for example so you can get at them with a different account.

Step 2: Edit the values you changed in the above key to redirect your profiles, for example Default is normally C:\Users\Default but you may have that set as D:\Users\Default, so put it back. ProfilesDirectory is another value you may have changed to a different volume, so put that back. Everything there should be pointing to C: when you are done. You will likely need to copy D:\Users\Default back to C:\Users\Default when you are done if you moved the Default users profile.

Step 3: Go through the user profiles under the ProfileList key and look for any profiles that are located on a drive other than C: You will see this in the ProfileImagePath value, and it might say D:\Users\soandso. You want to export these profile keys separately, and then delete them. Make sure all the profiles with a location that’s not C: are gone.

Step 4: Create a new local admin account, but don’t log in to it yet.

Step 5: Reboot the computer, log in as the local admin you just created.

Step 6: Kick off the Windows 8.1 Upgrade and let it do its thing.

Step 7: After the upgrade is done, edit the folder locations you edited in Step 2 to put them back the way they were. If you forget what they were, refer to the reg file you exported. If you had to copy the default user profile back to C: from D: in a previous step, you will again need to put it back to D:\Users\Default from C:\Users\Default.

Step 8: Restore the profile registry entries you deleted in Step 3.

Step 9: Reboot, log back in as your regular account.

Step 10: Delete the temporary admin account you created.

Step 11: Enjoy Windows 8.1!

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