Finally, it was time to build Windows from scratch again. I had been using the same Windows XP installation for the past three or four hardware platforms. I know, this is sheer lunacy, but Windows takes such an effort to get together, and after all these years I had it working how I want it, and to start over always seemed too daunting a task.

Except for all the bluescreens of course. A few too many, and a windows build of several years old almost takes as long to boot up - so a bluescreen is a double whammy. I lose whatever I was working on, plus have to wait 15 minutes boot time before it is usable again.

But the point of this story is user account deletion under Windows XP. At one point in my migration from old to new, I needed to delete the account on my old windows install and recreate it on the new. This was carried out in the new Windows installation on a new partition, but the user account profile I wanted to delete was pointing to the old Windows installation on the old partition. If that makes any sense.

Nevermind. So I just wanted to delete the account. Just the userid. And when you attempt to delete an account, Windows says "do you want to delete it all, or just the account and leave the files?"

Which is great - I just wanted to delete the account. And leave the files. So I agreed to this with good old windows, which then informed me that it would move all the files of the user to a folder on the desktop. And off it went. Now the old profile and the current profile were on different partitions, so this move would actually be a copy and delete - so would take forever to move the 4gb profile I had accumulated (thanks Google Desktop Search). So I waited.

Then bing it was finished. So the account was gone and the files were in this folder here, and I could start moving them to my new account. Except of course they weren't. Oh the folder was there, and in it was another couple of folders, containing my old desktop icons, my documents, my music and my photos. But nothing else.

So where was the Application Data folder? Where was the Local Settings folder? Gone. Deleted. Deleted even though Windows promised me that it wouldn't. Because now I discover that what it meant was: "I'll copy everything that I think you should be a concern with, but delete the rest." And of course, why would I want to concern myself with all those system folders? Apart from the fact that the Application Data folder contains my email. And my bookmarks. It also contains a whole ton of other data that the various applications I use rely on.

And I'll bet a bottom dollar that if I was using outlook, it would have saved the pst, and if I was using ie, it would have saved the bookmarks folders.

But no, apparently "don't delete" means, delete most things, but leave the documents. The moral is to not use the control panel account management for this but to get into the Users and Groups MMC plugin and delete from there.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

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