Windows Vista profiles are carved in stone

I recently bought a laptop and the technical department decided to name my profile as “User”. When I took the laptop, I renamed the account from User to Petros. I thought the matter ended there, and I started installing all the software I need for everyday operations. Recently I had to look something in my profile and to my astonishment I saw that my profile’s name was still “User”!!

Lesson One: When you rename a user account, the associated profile is not renamed.

Ok, I said. I am used to Windows unfriendliness. All I need to do is rename the profile. After searching for an official way for about half an hour, I gave up and turned to our best friend Google. I searched and searched… and I realized there is no way to rename the folder without fearing you are going to break some application. Moreover, renaming the folder is not a supported operation in Vista. One has to also tweak the registry.

Lesson Two: Don’t think something obvious is as you expect it to be if you are a Windows user.

One thought on “Windows Vista profiles are carved in stone

  1. My friend Petros,

    I think I have the magic recipe for you! You have to do this little workaround exercise in order to overcome the problem with user account renaming in Windows.

    1. Log on as the local machine Administrator (or use any other account with Administrative rights)

    2. Create a new account with the preferred name, e.g. Petros. If your existing account has the same name, you may want to rename it first to avoid the name clash. For example, Petros1 or PetrosOld.

    3. Log out and log in again using the newly created username. You need to do this just to force Windows to create a local profile folder structure for this account.

    3. Log out and log in as the local Administrator (or any other admin account as above)

    4. Go to the User Profile settings. In Vista, you can find this in Control Panel > System > Advanced System Settings > Advanced (tab) > User Profiles (Settings button).

    5. Select you old profile from the list and click the Copy To button. Now select the new profile you have just created. This will do the actual trick!

    6. After Windows finishes copying the data – it may take a while – you can log out and log in as the new Petros in order to verify that everything works OK (application settings, desktop settings, etc.)

    7. You can now safely delete you old account (Petros1 or PetrosOld) along with the old profile.

    Hope this helps! 🙂


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