Separating your data isn't as easy as relocating My Documents. By default, Windows XP or 2000 put your files in the Documents and Settings folder, but some files in this folder should not be moved.
First back up your Registry; for instructions on how to proceed, review April's "Windows Hacks" feature. Next, if you haven't already, use a program such as Symantec's $70 PartitionMagic or Acronis's $50 Disk Director Suite to adjust your hard-drive partitions. When the drive is repartitioned and you're ready to make the move, close all apps except Windows Explorer. Confirm that your PC shows hidden files and folders: In Windows Explorer, select Tools, Folder Options, View. Verify that Show hidden files and folders is checked, and click OK. You can change this back when you're done, if you wish.
Navigate in Windows Explorer to the data partition you just created (I'll refer to it as 'X:'). Make folders for each user with a log-on: Select File, New, Folder and enter the user name. Repeat the steps below for every user on the machine.
Your C:\Documents and Settings\log-on folder (where log-on is your log-on name) has four folders that likely hold important data: My Documents, Application Data, Local Settings\Application Data, and--if you use Internet Explorer--Favorites.
If you haven't moved My Documents yet, right-click the My Documents folder in Windows Explorer and select Properties. Enter X:\ log-on \My Documents as the new path (where 'X' is your new partition's drive letter, and log-on is your user name). After asking permission, Windows will change the location of My Documents and move the actual files.
Moving Application Data is trickier. Log in to each account and drag its Application Data folder in Explorer from C:\Documents and Settings\log-on to X:\ log-on (again, where 'X' is the partition's drive letter and log-on is the user name). Now select Start, Run, type regedit, and press <Enter>. In the left pane, navigate to and select HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders. Double-click the AppData value, change the 'Value data' field to X:\ log-on \Application Data, and press <Enter> (see FIGURE 1). Log off and then log in to the same account again. Now delete the Application Data folder in the old location.
Next, change the Favorites value in the Registry Editor just as you did the AppData value. If you have Microsoft's Tweak UI (part of the free PowerToys for Windows XP), use that program's My Computer, Special Folders option, which makes changing various folder locations a breeze. You still have to move the files and subfolders.
The one folder that's difficult to relocate is Local Settings\Application Data. You shouldn't try to move this folder, but at least two applications keep vital data here: Outlook and Outlook Express. Here's how to move that data:
Outlook: In Windows Explorer, navigate to and select C:\Documents and Settings\logon\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft. Inside this folder you'll find a subfolder named 'Outlook'. Move it to X:\logon\Application Data.
Select Start,Control Panel. Double-click the Mail icon (if you don't see this icon, click Switch to Classic View). Choose Data Files,Settings. At the error message, click OK. Browse the resulting dialog box to X:\logon\Application Data\Outlook, double-click the displayed file, and close the various dialog boxes.
Outlook Express: This program stores its mailboxes in a subfolder of Local Settings\Application Data that has a very long and confusing path. A faster way to relocate these mailboxes is to open Outlook Express, select Tools,Options, and click first the Maintenance tab and then the Store Folder button. You can change the data folder's location here before or after moving the actual files.
Finally, move the shared data. In Windows Explorer, create a folder named X:\All Users. Use the technique above for Application Data to move both Shared Documents and Application Data (they are inside C:\Documents and Settings\All Users) to this new location. Open the Registry Editor and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders. Add the new location in the 'Value data' field of Common AppData and Common Documents.
You can avoid some potential problems that might otherwise result from the change by performing some find and replace oerations in the Registry. The Registry Editor lacks a find-and-replace tool, but you can use Edit,Find to bring up the entries in the Find dialog box, manually replace each item, and then press <F3> to repeat the process. This can be long and tedious; I recommend using a more powerful Registry tool such as ChemTable's $30 Reg Organizer, which you can download from PC World's Downloads.
Search for the following strings: c:\documents and settings\logon\application data, c:\documents and settings\logon\my documents, c:\documents and settings\all users\documents, and c:\documents and settings\application data. When you find one of these strings, replace 'C:\Documents and Settings' with X:.