How to Change Windows XP Default User Profiles Directory

In Windows XP, the location is stored under

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\ProfilesDirectory

The proper order for switching over to the new directory is:

  1. Create the new user profiles directory.
  2. Edit the registry as outlined above.
  3. Reboot for the registry changes to take effect.
  4. Log-in as the users for which you want to change the profile directory to. (this is needed so that Windows will recreate the user profile files and directory correctly)
  5. Reboot again, then log-in as a different user (e.g. Administrator) from the one whose files you wish to copy over to the new user profiles directory.
  6. Copy all the files in the old profiles directory for the user to the newly created one.