Can’t Update To Windows 8.1, Users or Program Files Folder being redirected

Till now, we have seen many scenarios when you’re unable to update the system from running Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 update. However, I always suggest users to do a clean installation because it is hassle free but you have to install your drivers, software again which is the only disadvantage of that way. Though upgrade seems a simpler option, but the way is not as simple as we’re thinking of. Recently, while upgrading a Windows 8 system to Windows 8.1, we came around this error:

Can’t update to Windows 8.1. Sorry. It looks like this PC can’t run Windows 8.1. This might be because the Users or Program Files Folder is being redirected to another partition


Can’t Update To Windows 8.1

If we observe this error from the message displayed above, we led to the conclusion that there is something wrong with the users profile or the folders associated with it. Many times it happens that if we have smaller size primary SSD, then we move the user and program files folders to alternate drive, which gives rise to such issues. Then how to fix this issue? Well, we have a working solution for you to solve this problem, which is mentioned below.

Users or Program Files Folder is being redirected to another partition

Please read all the steps carefully.

1. First of all make sure you have C:\Temp and C:\Users folder; assuming C: is the system root drive. If you don’t have C:\Users\Default and C:\Users\Public folders, you can copy these folder from other drive which is containing these folders.Press Windows Key + R combination, type put Regedt32.exe in Run dialog box and hit Enter to open the Registry Editor.

REGEDIT How to disable Lock Screen Slide Show when on Battery in Windows 8.1

2. Navigate to the following location:

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


3. You have to now export the ProfileList registry key using File -> Export. Save the exported registry file into C:\Temp. Make sure to location entries such as D:\Users etc. in the exported registry file points to general variable %SystemDrive% rather than specifically pointing to a drive. Now expand the ProfileList key and delete the long subkey beginning with S-1-5-21-. Close Registry Editor.


4. Create a new local user account say tempusr and change its type to Administrator. Log out of all accounts and log in into tempusr account. Now try downloading Windows 8.1 from Windows Store and install it. Once completed, restart the machine with tempusr account. Open Registry Editor now and import the file we’ve exported in previous step. When you’re done with importing, log out of tempusr account.

Now log in to original account. You can now delete the tempusr account. So finally, in this way, your system is updated to Windows 8.1 now.

Hope this helps!


When you install Windows 8.1 using temp user (tempusr) account, the apps installed would work for tempusr account. But when you restore the original admin account, the apps downloaded and installed during the update won’t work. For this, you have to re-register Windows Store app using this command:

Powershell -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $Env:SystemRoot\WinStore\AppxManifest.xml

Then re-install these apps from the Store. This would make them work again. Please refer to comments made below for more details.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
An Electrical Engineer by profession, Kapil is a Microsoft MVP and a Microsoft Content Creator. Please read the entire post & the comments first & create a system restore point before making any changes to your system.




  2. Bart Ashton

    Thank you. I did not know how to bypass this error before. I think that Microsoft should release some kind of fix for this error, though, since I nearly broke my PC while attempting these instructions (not your fault, just my stupidity).

  3. sky

    Thx. 2nd modification in registry was also important (ProgramFilesDir E: to C:) in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersion
    Then…done! Thx Thx thx πŸ˜€

  4. kjhkhjkhj

    I keep getting an error when making a new account, can someone hlp?

  5. ^^ If they notice the issue, a hotfix will be released.

  6. ^^ Thanks for feedback, using general variables is better idea πŸ™‚

  7. ^^ Please let us know what error message or code you’re receiving in doing so, so that we can help you further.

  8. Emily

    Does it matter if I have the public folder but not the default one? Could that be under a different name?

  9. LostInSpace

    Hey Kapil Arya! I tried your steps but this is what happened:

    1. When I logged in on the tempusr and tried to install 8.1, it gave me the same old error message.

    2. I decided to change back to my normal account and when I did so it started up with a fresh install for that account. All my data is still on the HDD and SSD but the account is like it would be 100% new?

    Please help me Kapil!

  10. LostInSpace

    Hey Kapil Arya! I tried your steps but this is what happened:

    1. When I logged in on the tempusr and tried to install 8.1, it gave me the same old error message.

    2. I decided to change back to my normal account and when I did so it started up with a fresh install for that account. All my data is still on the HDD and SSD but the account is like it would be 100% new?

    Please help me Kapil!!

  11. Leon Trotsky

    That’s quite an assumption. They have noticed this issue – and have done absolutely nothing about it for quite a while – ever since Vista.

    Microsoft isn’t interested in user convenience or enterprise management. Many people do split drive installations, using unattended install to move the users directory to a separate partition, making the system partition a clean and easily manageable from a performance standpoint. Microsoft doesn’t give a rip about this.

  12. Leon Trotsky

    Was this modification parsed to your tutorial example above?

  13. Leon Trotsky

    Kapil : Your fix worked perfectly. Outstanding job. Microsoft owes you about $2m USD.

  14. Leon Trotsky

    Your post here seems like a duplicate – in any case I do not understand what the problem is for you now when you say “getting this update to work now”. Can you be more specific? How precisely did you follow Kapil’s instructions; do you think it’s possible you made a mistake and if so where?

  15. LostInSpace


    I did exactly what Kapil said in his guide. But then when I tried to install the 8.1 update from the MS Store I got the same error message that this is all about. The only thing I might have messed up is “Make sure to location entries such as D:Users etc. in the exported registry file points to general variable %SystemDrive%rather than specifically pointing to a drive” because when I exported the ProfileList I just put it in C:Temp (C:TempProfileList)

  16. Leon Trotsky

    okay you need to enter those system variables – but if you went ahead anyway this fix may no longer work.

    Keep in mind that when you edit the registry in your main account you are not editing the registry file. You are editing the registry file loaded into memory when you booted. The edits and export you do are only saving one piece of that registry – which tells windows that your user files and other profile paths are on whatever drive you specified in your main account (in my case, for example, the D: drive). So, you have to save that piece, without editing it, to the temp folder so you can import it back in after the windows 8.1 update. After you have preserved that piece as a file in the temp directory *then* you edit the very same piece that exists in memory, and exit regedt – this exit means the registry in memory is now “correct” from the windows point of view, but you saved the critical piece, the profile situation you want for your main account, to reinstall later after the upgrade. Now that the registry in memory is correct according to windows, then you create the tempusr account, and log off (but do not restart), and log in with the tempusr account, and start the 8.1 upgrade. Once that upgrade is complete *then* you can restart the machine (and it’s best to do a cold boot here I think, to prevent hibernation of the kernel) log in with tempusr, and with *that* account, you import the piece you saved earlier in the temp folder into the registry, and then exit regedt.

    Once again, having exited regedit here, what you have done is overwritten the registry file in memory, and this will be written to disk once you logout of that account. From now on, the registry will show your original partition locations like you had when you started out, but you have “fooled” the update process into thinking they were in the system drive for that upgrade session only.

    Im really not sure where you are now in the process, and Im not sure that trying it again will work. In any case, can you re-install windows 8 or are you too far along in the process?

  17. LostInSpace

    I am having a very hard time understanding this comment. Is is by any means possible for you to rewrite in a very simple way πŸ™‚ Screenshots would be lovely.

    I have reset the whole process from my first try and I am currently in the “normal” stage.

  18. Leon Trotsky

    Yes, but I won’t be able to get to that for one or two days, sorry. I am in the middle of a move here.

  19. LostInSpace

    Thank you! I really appreciate it! It is okay take your time πŸ™‚

  20. LostInSpace

    Hey again Leon,
    Just wanted to give you a little reminder in case you forgot about me πŸ™‚

  21. Leon Trotsky

    Okay I have some time today, thanks for being patient. Where are you in the process now?

  22. LostInSpace

    Hey, I have reset the whole process because I don’t want to do anything about if before you help me hehe..

  23. Leon Trotsky

    Okay when you say reset are you absolutely sure you are where you were at the beginning?

  24. LostInSpace

    I would say so yes.

  25. Leon Trotsky

    okay I am going to make some screenshots and share them out at the mediafire desktop I have . . . if you know of a chat site that would probably be better to converse in.

  26. Leon Trotsky

    Okay first we need to know where your /users folders currently are. If you are on this page, they are probably *not* on the C: drive. So, check the C: drive – look for a users folder there – and then on the drive where you may have them, and tell us what you have there. The issue is : if you already have a users folder on C: drive you may need to delete it in a live session, but don’t do anything till we know what you have there.

  27. LostInSpace

    You are awesome! Umm for the chat we could use Chatzy, follow this link to get to the room I created:

  28. Leon Trotsky

    First you need to get the users directory structure established on the system drive.This means you have to copy those folders from where they are now to where the windows upgrade process expects them to be.

  29. Leon Trotsky

    Step 2 – Changing your registry information.

    As indicated in Kapil’s example, open Regedt32 and navigate as directed. Change the specific key so that it looks exactly like the example of in the picture below.

    Note : on the left side of the registry editor the “Profile List” key is highlighted – you don’t change anything on that side of the editor. On the right side, you see registry entries for Default, Profiles Directory, etc. Those need to have a value set to %SystemDrive% [plus the path indicated]. This location and path are exactly what the upgrade process needs to see during it’s execution. If it is pointing to a different path, the upgrade process will fail.

    Once you have edited the path information (by highlighting the entry under the “name” column and selecting modify) – the next step involves saving that part of the registry in a temporary location so that you can import it into the registry that the upgrade process actually sees while it’s in operation. If you know how to export that key right now and save it in a temporary folder on the C: drive, go ahead and do that. Otherwise, wait and I will show examples of how to do that.

  30. Leon Trotsky

    I am at the chat and have posted the first 4 steps.

  31. Matt Lewis

    I used this method as explained and it worked perfectly… until I tried launching any apps from either of my old profiles. Any of the apps just flash quickly on screen, then are shown in the system tray as running, but I cant get to them.

    I have tried

    Powershell -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $Env:SystemRootWinStoreAppxManifest.xml

    But that seems specific to fixing store problems. My store is actually the only one that launches.

    Also ran sfc check with no errors.

    Any help?

  32. Leon Trotsky

    During the actual upgrade process, windows installs store apps – and when it’s doing this remember you are logged in (as you have to be) as tempusr with all the programs and user data pointing to C. When you restore the old Profiles registry piece, this redirects the operating system to obtain user folders and user program data to the old scheme. Consequently, the apps installed during the upgrade process probably won’t work. There may be a workaround or a fix – but I don’t know what it is at this point and am not working on it. But understanding the issue may help you find a solution.

    When I did my fix – I had already installed windows 8.0 using an unattended install which directed the base store and store apps to the D drive. The upgrade process went fine, and when I restored my old scheme from the fresh windows 8.0 unattended install, my store apps and store appeared to work okay.

  33. Matt Lewis

    Thanks Leon.

    Kapil, you should probably add that small tidbit to the walkthrough. πŸ™‚ This is still a better option overall, even if you have to uninstall and re-install some apps. But, you should at least warn people that its going to break and its a known issue w this workaround. πŸ™‚

  34. Leon Trotsky

    I wasn’t aware of this problem specifically – I’d heard some things – because my 8.0 install was a bit different than normal – the split drive unattended install using an xml script. This install redirects windows and windows applications to a specified data drive – and the windows 8.1 upgrade process appears to preserve that. I checked the registry and the default location for users and user program data on my own machine is %SystemDrive% but every user and user application is re-directed to the data drive. For some reason not clear, this type of install appears to preserve the store and store app functions while other types of 8.0 installs followed by 8.1 upgrade does not. I think for example an existing machine that has already had a lot of stuff installed and been in use for a while may find the store apps broken if this process is followed. For a lot of people this won’t matter much. Possibly some of the Windows 8.1 updates may resolve these issues – I just don’t know.

  35. Thank you for your help and inputs here. πŸ™‚

  36. Mark Bennett

    Worked Great! Thanks!

  37. ^^ Glad we could help!

  38. Ji?Γ­ FiΕ‘er

    This just completely bricked my computer. Both my old and the tempusr account give me an error message when trying to log in. Importing the registry through safe cmd mode seems to not save at all, my profiles in it are gone (all the long entries) although there were 4 and I deleted only the first one as the guide said to, and I have no idea what to do now. Could anyone, please, help me?

  39. nakwada

    Works like a charm, thanks a bunch πŸ™‚

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