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Using USMT 4.0 hardlink with Configuration Manager Task Sequence

With User State Migration Toolkit 4.0 or USMT 4.0, a new feature called hardlink was introduced with it. It is the ability to perform user data backup before a new operating system is applied without making a duplicate copy of the file into a different location and then moving it back after the new operating system has been applied. This saves you time and lotsa storage space moving stuffs around.

Just a few things to note. So you do need to have your Configuration Manager to be on SP2 for it to be able to support USMT 4.0, which is where hardlinks is introduced. Also another thing to note is that USMT 4.0 is not supported for Windows XP –> Windows XP scenarios but it does for Windows XP –> later operating systems.

To start this off, you can either do this from a completely new task sequence (as how I am going to show you in the screen shots below) or by editing an existing task sequence which you have. So, to get to the screen below, you basically just go to the Task Sequences node, right-click it, New > Task Sequence. Then choose the Install an existing image package option.

So basically, give your task sequence a name and select the appropriate boot image.


You do need to choose you desired OS image package, enter product key if required (without KMS) and if desired, enter your local administrator password. REMEMBER to uncheck the Partition and format the target computer before installing the operating system option.


In this writeup, I skipped a page for Configure Network. That’s where you choose whether you want to join the computer to a workgroup or to a domain. No further explanation needed there.

Now, choose the Configuration Manager agent package to install the SCCM agent as part of the OS deployment process.


Here’s an important screen. It is up to you whether you want to also capture the network settings and Windows settings, but you need to make sure the Capture use settings checkbox option is selected. Browse for your USMT package and then select the Save user settings locally radio button.

Note: if the Save user settings locally radio button is disabled/greyed out, that would probably mean you had the Partition and format the target computer before installing the operating system option in previous screens selected.


Your choice on whether you want to install software updates as part of the deployment.


And…you’re almost done.


After which your task sequence will look like this.


You do still need to make some small changes. Go to the Set Local State Location and change the %_SMSTSUserStatePath% value to %SystemDrive%\UserState


Next add a new Set Task Sequence Variable task after the Set Local State Location task but before the Capture User Files and Settings task. Give it a name and enter OSDMigrateAdditionalCaptureOption into the Task Sequence Variable field. Enter /nocompress /hardlink into the Value field.


Enable verbose logging for the Capture User Files and Settings task.


Uncheck the Continue on error checkbox which you can find in the Options tab for the Capture User Files and Settings task.


Similar to what you’ve done for the capture option, add a new Task Sequence Variable task just before the Restore User Files and Settings task. This time enter OSDMigrateAdditionalRestoreOptions into the Task Sequence Variable field and /nocompress /hardlink into the Value field.


Enable verbose logging for the Restore User Files and Settings task.


Your final task sequence should look something like this.


So, always remember that you don’t have a task to re-format and re-partition your computer when you’re working with hardlinks and you should be good.



13 responses

  1. Pingback: USMT Hardlink Migration | chbooth

  2. Pingback: Using USMT 4.0 hardlink with Configuration Manager Task Sequence « medrizk

  3. Julius

    Hi, I have some question regarding your post. Is it a must to delete the UserState folder in the last step which is after Restore User Files and Settings. and what would be the command line like?

    And, if we select Capture All Users Profiles with standard option. What would be the “standard option” captured?

    September 30, 2011 at 11:42 am

  4. SRajini

    Hi Mate,

    excellent it works for me as well,

    but the issue is, in my existing client (XP) , I had 40GB of data’, during the hardlink its taking copy of source data, i.e. its copying 40gb data to C:\user state, in this case, if I dont have 40GB free disk space will it get failed?

    Please share



    March 31, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    • Hi Rasini,

      Great to hear.
      You need not worry. It does not actually make duplicates of the files, rather it builds references to the files. Hope that helps.


      March 31, 2012 at 8:06 pm

      • SRajini

        Hi Mate,

        Thanks for your prompt response.

        since after the scanstate when I checked C:\Userstate folder size, its exactly the same size of source data. Hence i’ve got worried,

        even after the migration, when I checked C: FREE DISK SPACE size, its 100mb free, i.e. the C:\User data folder is occupied 40gb.

        thats why I’ve got worried.

        after using usmtutils.exe, I’ve delete user data folder then I’ve got 40GB free space. the worry is how do I migrate the if the user do not have free spae.

        suggest me any idea.

        S. Rasini

        April 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm

  5. SRajini

    Any luck?

    April 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    • Hi SRajini,

      Drop me an email and let’s take this offline. I’ve got a couple more questions pertaining to your issue. It should only normally take up to a maximum of 250MB for the hard-link migration store.


      April 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm

  6. CBR

    Thanks Nice Explanation…

    June 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm

  7. Erik

    Hello everyone,

    We are going from Windows XP 32bit to Windows 7 x64 bit using Hardlinking local option. We are using SCCM to push out the Task Sequence. As of now it works fine as long as the user is an administrator of the machine. If he’s not it will still do everything except it will not restore the files. When the user logs in nothing is restored and he will get access denied if he trys to access the UserState folder. We can login as an Admin and give that person rights to the folder then manually copy the data over to the correct folders, but I was wondering if anyone had any ideals to have it do it automatically if the user isn’t an admin.

    We are going to try to upgrade about 2000 computers using this method.


    August 22, 2012 at 11:11 pm

  8. Just desire to say your article is as astounding. The clearness in your post is simply spectacular and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the enjoyable work.

    May 3, 2013 at 8:52 am

  9. manuverma


    This task sequence is run from the boot option or run from the running OS (In software Centre ).
    As my understanding ,Through this image we capture the user profile and Install New OS.
    I am still confused how to migrate window 7 to 8 with user profile migration.

    Please elaborate me because I am new in this USMT.


    February 14, 2014 at 4:18 pm

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