Published: June 30, 2006 | Updated: November 30, 2006

One of the most tedious and time-consuming tasks during a deployment of a Windows operating system is identifying users’ documents on their current client computers, saving the documents, and restoring them to the new client computer image. In addition, the User State Migration feature team typically saves users’ preferences (that is, settings). These preferences include items such as screen saver settings, Web browser favorites, and similar feature settings. The combination of documents and settings is the user state.

BDD 2007 uses the USMT to save and restore the user state during the deployment process. This guide describes the planning and development process for customizing the behavior of the USMT during client computer deployments.

Note   One approach to handling user state migration is to enable roaming user profiles during the desktop migration. However, simply enabling roaming user profiles is not a best practice. Roaming user profiles should be used in combination with folder redirection, offline files, and excluded folders. For more information about using these and other features to manage user data and settings, see “User Data and Settings Management” at

On This Page

Background Background
Prerequisites Prerequisites
Assumptions Assumptions
Education and References Education and References


The work described in this guide typically starts in the MSF Planning Phase, when the project team decides which applications to deploy. It continues through the Developing and Stabilizing Phases, where the control files are coded, tested, and piloted until they are approved for release to the Deploying Phase.

The primary consumer of this guide is the MSF Development Role Cluster, because most of this guide focuses on the development work necessary for creating USMT control files. The USMT process uses the information obtained from the application inventory process, the general working knowledge of the information technology (IT) Operations staff, and members of the user community to derive the data and preference information to be collected. The User State Migration feature team creates USMT control files based on these preferences. When defined, the User State Migration feature team gives the control files to the Test Role Cluster for testing, validation, and acceptance. Finally, the accepted USMT control files are provided to the Deployment feature team for use in the Deploying Phase.


This solution requires the following prerequisites to be in place to ensure the success of user state migration projects:

  • USMT 3.0

  • Compatible operating systems:

    • Source systems must be Windows Vista, Windows XP, or Microsoft Windows 2000.

    • Target systems must be Windows Vista or Windows XP.

  • Available storage space for temporary store files and sufficient space on the target computer

Some applications must be installed before migrating their settings. (See notes in this document.)

In addition, USMT must be run in elevated mode in Windows Vista to ensure all users are migrated. (This is a requirement because of Windows Vista User Access Control [UAC] protections.)


User State Migration feature team members should be familiar with the concepts of migrating user state and how those concepts fit into the overall computer deployment process. This guide assumes that team members will do this development work in a non-production lab environment. Because USMT does not require a complex infrastructure, in many cases the USMT developers share space and resources in the lab with the developers who are creating the computer images. See the Computer Imaging System Feature Team Guide for details on the lab requirements.

This guide assumes that USMT developers have:

  • An understanding of the USMT and how it works.

  • An understanding of the navigation and hierarchy of the Windows registry.

  • An understanding of the files or file types that applications use.

  • The ability to extract application and setting information manually from internal development groups and software vendors besides Microsoft.

Education and References

Microsoft TechNet and the Microsoft Web site ( offer white papers and articles that can provide additional information and background on the USMT. For more information about obtaining and using USMT 3.0, see Deploying Windows Vista at USMT 3.0 is available for download at


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