If you’re in the situation where you need to join a workgroup computer to a domain or move a domain joined computer into another domain, the user profile on the computer will most likely be replaced by a new domain joined user profile or at least a new domain joined user account with another SID.

Setting up a new personalized user profile can often be very time-consuming. There are a lot of tools available for this operation. Windows Easy Transfer is included in Windows 7 and gives you the ability to back up your profile and move it to a new computer (or the same). But an easier way is to just attach the old user profile folder to the new user profile account.

  • Log into the computer with the local machine administrator account

You can’t use the local machine administrator account if that’s the profile you’ll want to move. Then create a new local account with administrator privileges, and use that account. Local Administrator accounts are often disabled and without a password, fix that first.

  • Join the computer to the new domain and reboot
  • After successfully logging in as your new user, immediately log out, reboot and log back in as the local machine administrator.
  • Go to C:Documents and Settings (Windows XP) or C:Users (Windows Vista/7) and you’ll see two profile folders with similar names. One will probably have .DOMAIN or .DOMAIN.000 appended to the end. This is the new profile, check the dates and size of the folder to be sure which is the newest created.
  • Open properties of the old profile folder and give the new user ownership of all files and folder and replace all child object permissions with inherited permissions from this object. Then give the user Full control of all files and folder and replace all child object permissions with inherited permissions from this object.
  • Go Start > Run and type REGEDIT followed by OK.
  • Locate HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows NT > CurrentVersion > ProfileList > weird numbers (GUID) and the key is called ProfileImagePath
  • Find the one that has the same folder name as the newly created profile.
  • Change the value of ProfileImagePath to the same as the old profile folder
  • Reboot
  • Logon with the new user account, now everything should be there.