Generate User Profiles Without Logging On First

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Thread Starter
May 29, 2008
OK. I'm trying to figure out how or if I can generate a user profile without a user logging on first. I origionally thought it can't be done, but now I'm wondering again.

Normally, when you log on for the first time, Windows XP would create a user profile for you automatically, which it would use from now on. However, I might have plans to start copying about the user profiles. Now what if I restored a profile that I backed up? Well, that would work, as long as the user has already logged on once. However, if I restored a profile and the user hasn't logged on yet, such as backing the system up, and then re-installing it and creating the users again, and then restored the profile folder without the user logging on first, it would bypass that folder and try to create a new one, which is not what I want.

So, I've discovered the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

I've now played around with it with test users. I'm not sure, but am thinking now that this is where Windows XP stores the user profiles. So, I'm thinking that if I created the user, and restored a profile, but didn't log on yet, that if I created the right keys and data, it would know that the user has logged on once, which it really hasn't that install yet, but the previous install had, and then it would use the proper profile, without forcing all users to log on once first, which would mean that it's less administrative trouble, because an administrator would have to log on to every user before turning it over to the other users, pretty much.

So, here's my results so far. I can get the SID of a user, and make a key under that key, and then stick in a ProfileImagePath, pointing to the profile, which in this case I generated by manually copying Default User, and making it not hidden. It is actually using the profile, I think without generating a new profile, with just that step. However, when I log on, I simply get Windows Classic settings, which is not what I get when I let Windows XP create a profile for me. So this is not what Default User contains.

I'm noticing, that when Windows generates a profile, it also copies other data too. However, I don't understand what that other data is for, or if that's why it doesn't work. Maybe ProfileImagePath is all I need. Maybe there's some other key somewhere that I'd have to generate too, to make Windows XP use the correct settings.

Note that right now, I'm not restoring a profile, but creating one from Default User, and I'm using test users, and I'm manually using registry edits. However, I would desire to have this done by a script once I figure out what needs to be scripted. This is never meant to stay manual, but become automatic.

So if a user needs the stuff restored, I'd generate a profile with a script instead of Windows XP. That way I could let Windows think they've logged on, and then I could have a profile be restored easily.
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