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How to restore client user data folders from WHS backup?

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  • I just completed a system restore using the WHS Restore CD. It went well but unfortunately I had to go to a backup that is a month old. Now I would like to restore my Windows User Data folders from my most current backup. I tried using drag/drop from the WHS backup but a number of the files were in use by the system and had to be skipped. The larger issue is I ended up with "Users" (my original) and "Users - Copy".

    "Users" is a system folder and I don't know how to replace it with the "Users - Copy". If I am using the right restore approach, how can I replace the "Users folder"? If I am not, how should I go about restoring the "Users" folder from backup?

    12. juni 2010 23:12

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  • I just completed a system restore using the WHS Restore CD. It went well but unfortunately I had to go to a backup that is a month old. Now I would like to restore my Windows User Data folders from my most current backup. I tried using drag/drop from the WHS backup but a number of the files were in use by the system and had to be skipped. The larger issue is I ended up with "Users" (my original) and "Users - Copy".

    "Users" is a system folder and I don't know how to replace it with the "Users - Copy". If I am using the right restore approach, how can I replace the "Users folder"? If I am not, how should I go about restoring the "Users" folder from backup?

    As you noticed, there are some files in C:\Users\username that are always in use and locked (as I recall, NTUSER.DAT is one).  The best course of action is to not even attempt to restore the Users folder(or the username subfolder) at all, but instead restore the appropriate username subfolders (i.e. C:\Users\username\My Documents).
    13. juni 2010 04:09
  • I am a big fan of WHS from the standpoint that it makes it so easy to routinely backup my four PCs on my home network. A number of times when I have needed to restore selected files or folders it has worked flawlessly. But I'm disappointed that WHS can't easily restore the Users folder. However, I was able to work around this using a technique that I think suggests a nice future addition to WHS. Here is what I did:

    1. Restored my most current system image.
    2. Ran Easy Transfer to copy all my User Data to a share on WHS.
    3. Restored my month-old system image.
    4. Ran Easy Transfer again to load the User Data from the WHS share.

    I think it would be great if Microsoft could duplicate Easy Transfer technology in WHS, but enhanced so it could retrieve the User data directly from a selected system image. As in my case, this would be really useful when you need to roll the system back to a previous state but want to keep retain your current User data.

    By the way, the reason I didn't use Windows 7 Restore Points is all my restore points were corrupted, presumably by a malware that was removed from my system by Microsoft Security Essentials on May 17.

    14. juni 2010 13:11
  • ...
    But I'm disappointed that WHS can't easily restore the Users folder.
    ...

    The Users (or on XP, the Documents and Settings) folder for each user contains registry components. So, for example, in C:\Users\Teetime17, there will be a file named NTUSER.DAT. This file contains the HKEY_CURRENT_USER registry hive for the user Teetime17 and is opened when that user logs on. Once opened, only Windows can write to it, so restoring the entire Users folder isn't possible using the single file restore functionality. This isn't a limitation of Windows Home Server, it's a limitation of Windows.

    You can, however, restore a user's Documents folder, or Pictures, etc.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    14. juni 2010 13:35
  • Ken, thanks for your response - that helps knowing about NTUSER.DAT. I have some followup comments/questions I hope you or someone can help me with.

    First, some background. On each of my computers I have created a separate data partition where the Documents folders are kept using the Windows Relocate Documents feature. In the case of my laptop this is in a separate partition on the one hard drive. On my pc used for video editing Documents was relocated to its own dedicated drive. I do this so I can easily image and if need be restore just the system volume. With or without this technique I've never had any problem restoring a user's Documents folder from WHS; it is just that user data tha remains on the system volume that presents a problem. It would be great if ALL user data (e.g., NTUSER.DAT, Outlook email, etc.) could also be easily relocated to a separate partition, but afaik there is no easy way to do that in Windows - it remains just kinda sprinkled around the system volume. That is the value that Easy Transfer offers - it extracts all of the user data (except I omitted the Documents folder) for transfer to another PC, or in my case a reimage of the same PC. But what I assume from your post is that NTUSER.DAT might not be transferred by Easy Transfer. Is that correct? If that is true, would I have been just as well off to just drag and drop the individual folders under my User folder from WHS to my laptop, and just tell it to skip the files that are in use (e.g., NTUSER.DAT)?

    I appreciate your insights. Hopefully you can help me see the easy way to deal with this.

     

    14. juni 2010 15:24
  • On 6/14/2010 8:35 AM, Ken Warren [MVP] wrote:

    ...
    But I'm disappointed that WHS can't easily restore the Users folder.
    ...

    The Users (or on XP, the Documents and Settings) folder for each user contains registry components. So, for example, in C:\Users\Teetime17, there will be a file named NTUSER.DAT. This file contains the HKEY_CURRENT_USER registry hive for the user Teetime17 and is opened when that user logs on. Once opened, only Windows can write to it, so restoring the entire Users folder isn't possible using the single file restore functionality. This isn't a limitation of Windows Home Server, it's a limitation of Windows.

    You can, however, restore a user's Documents folder, or Pictures, etc.

    Would it be possible t log in as an Administrative account
    (Administrator or another account) and then copy the User folder over?
    Since technically they aren't logged in as that user, the NTUSER.DAT
    file shouldn't be locked by Windows.  Of course then you get into the
    UAC issues, but those can be bypassed.

    Have a great day:)
    Patrick.


    Smile... Someone out there cares deeply for you.
    Have you updated your OS and Antivirus today?
    http://update.microsoft.com


    Smile.. Someone out there cares deeply for you.
    14. juni 2010 16:06
  • Well, look what I just found... you CAN relocate the Users folder to a non-system partition. See below. Anyone see any issues with this? One possible issue I can see is System Restore Points would no longer make a copy of the User data, right?

    --------
    Bydefault,windows 7/vista put all system data and user data on the same partition,normally it’s drive C.Under this condition we must backup our user data every time we re-install our windows 7/vista.From windows vista ,Microsoft supply us a tool mklink which can create a symbolic link under windows 7 or vista just as the command ln under unix/linux.Below is an example about how to put user data on non-system using mklink in windows 7.
    1.Enable administrator account and set a password for it.You can refer How to enable or disable administrator account in windows 7

    2.Logoff and login with administrator account

    3.Relocate your user data to other non-system partion,for example from C:\users\J  to D:\users\J

    4.Use mklink to create a symbolic link from C:\users\J to D:\users\J

    mklink /D C:\Users\J  D:\users\J

    5.Re-login use your own account,you will find nothing changed,but in fact your physical user data is on drive D.

    6.Done.The next time you re-install your OS ,just use the same user name, remove  C:\users\J then run the command of step 3 again then your user data is back.

    source:How to move user data folder to non-system partition in windows 7/vista

    14. juni 2010 16:37
  • In a situation like this information needed to be provided at hand step by step to a problem solved
    20. februar 2012 09:50