Microsoft Says Replace User State Migration Tool with OneDrive For Business

At the recent Microsoft Ignite conference in Florida, Microsoft pitched using OneDrive For Business instead of the User State Migration Tool (USMT).  This suggestion was largely based on the new ONEDRIVE > MANAGE PROTECTION OF IMPORTANT FOLDERS wizard.

onedrive-manage-protection-important-foldersPreviously you had to manually move your DESKTOP, DOCUMENTS and PICTURES folders to folders under your C:\USERS\<YourName>\ONEDRIVE – <BUSINESS NAME> or come up with an even more creative solution like building Junction Points.  This was just not practical for most users.  Now the MANAGE PROTECTION OF IMPORTANT FOLDERS popup occurs when you launch your OneDrive for business app for the first time.

Alternately, you can kick it off by right clicking on your ONEDRIVE (cloud icon in the System Tray) > SETTINGS > AUTOSAVE tab > UPDATE FOLDERS.

The idea is that most of your settings are stored in your DOCUMENTS folder so if you have an existing PC with MANAGE PROTECTION OF IMPORTANT FOLDERS cloning files to OneDrive, you can setup the MANAGE PROTECTION OF IMPORTANT FOLDERS on a new PC and all of the core settings and documents will flood into the new PC.

The new PC will have a cloud icon on any file that is only stored on OneDrive in the cloud.  As soon a user double clicks such a file, it will automatically download to the PC.

If you have mobile users that need access to a set of files or folders while they are off line, you can right click on them and select ALWAYS KEEP ON THIS DEVICE.  That will keep a local copy as well as a cloud copy.

This method of migrating user data is clean and easy.  It also provides both a free backup of your PC’ data and allows you to gain the cool co-authoring features in Office 2016 and newer.

Microsoft suggests that as a minimum, admins should be using OneDrive as a ‘free’ backup for laptops or other portable devices so if they get stolen all is not lost.

We have been testing this for a few days now with a limited number of migrations and our staff seem to like it.


  1. Avatar
    Lars Lundstad January 10, 2019 at 2:53 am

    That will most certainly not store any of your third party software settings, screen backgrounds, cached logins from chrome and Firefox etc.etc etc. MS ows us all to produce a valid simple way to transition from one PC to another, and also to/from domains Azure..

    I’m in the middle of moving +100 users from one AD to another.
    After weeks of searches I fund only one product still capable of this and that is USMT

    One person with enormous USMT expertise is Thomas Ehler and he built a nice GUI for USMT as well.
    A weeks long hazzle has become a very manageable two day project with extremely high quality migrations as result 🙂

    • Ian Matthews
      Ian Matthews January 11, 2019 at 3:38 pm

      Agreed. Windows is not at version 1 where you would expect these migration tools to be so poor. USMT works but it is a pain and it is so slow, that I have written my own scripts to migrate users to new hardware:

      What I do is sign into the new PC as the user in question, then I bring up a CMD window and UNC to their current PC so that I get an elevation prompt for permission to their C: drive. (i.e. \\CAL-PC34\C$ and press enter). Then I run the batch file below:

      rem * URTech User Backup for Windows 10 Clients
      rem * By Ian Matthews
      rem * created Janaury 18 2008
      rem * last modified April 6 2016
      rem *
      rem **************************************
      @echo .
      @echo .

      @set /p sourcename=”Enter the PC hostname and user BACKUP: (like \\CAL-PC34\c$\users\lrodsman) :” %=%

      rem *** Copying favorites, my docs, desktop and quick launch

      robocopy “%sourcename%\Desktop” “c:\users\%username%\Desktop” /MIR /R:2 /W:3 /XJ
      robocopy “%sourcename%\Documents” “c:\users\%username%\Documents” /MIR /R:2 /W:3 /XJ
      robocopy “%sourcename%\Pictures” “c:\users\%username%\Pictures” /MIR /R:2 /W:3 /XJ
      robocopy “%sourcename%\Music” “c:\users\%username%\Music” /MIR /R:2 /W:3 /XJ
      robocopy “%sourcename%\Videos” “c:\users\%username%\Videos” /MIR /R:2 /W:3 /XJ
      robocopy “%sourcename%\Favorites” “c:\users\%username%\Favorites” /MIR /R:2 /W:3 /XJ
      robocopy “%sourcename%\Links” “c:\users\%username%\Links” /MIR /R:2 /W:3 /XJ
      robocopy “%sourcename%\AppData\Roaming” “c:\users\%username%\AppData\Roaming” /MIR /R:2 /W:3 /XJ /XD Microsoft
      rem – sticky notes are now stored in DOCUMENTS – robocopy “%sourcename%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Sticky Notes” “c:\users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Sticky Notes”

      I hope this helps.

Questions or Comments?