New, Used PC: How Do I Change User Name in C:\Users?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader 'miannone' writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I recently purchased a new [Windows 8.1] desktop computer (or so I thought) from a big box electronic store. It should be noted that I did not utilize the 'pay-for-setup' process that the sales people attempted to convince me was the only way to go. I took the machine home ... [and booted it up] first time. It went through all the necessary updates; ... [once complete, I started] the customization. It was then I noticed that [my hard drive already had a user named 'Sam' defined on it. For example, even though I am the only user on this machine with Administrator access, there are folders] ... named 'C:\Users\Sam\' [and] ... C:\Users\Sam\Desktop\Baseball 2014, etc ... [I probably should have returned the machine] ... however, I hesitate to do so because of the hours I have invested in making [it] perform and look like I want it. So my question is ... how do you change the name of the hard drive without impacting the file system? I appreciate your attention to this issue. Thanks! "

My response:

This is a great question -- thanks for asking. The issue here is that the very first Administrator user to use this machine was named "Sam". Most likely, Sam returned the computer to the store shortly after creating the account, then you purchased the computer some time after. By the sounds of it, the store didn't bother to factory reset the computer.

That said: even if you rename the Sam user to "Mike", the User directory structure will remain the same (ex: C:\Users\Sam). The reason is that many programs and settings are already stored in this path (example: the C:\Users\Sam\AppData\Roaming folder), and Windows cannot change the path without breaking the installed programs. To get around the issue, you could create a new Administrator user with your name, and then delete the Sam user -- but doing so comes with a slight caveat (explained below).

How to Create a New Administrator User and Delete the Old One

Here are the steps:

1. Go to Users -> Accounts in the Control Panel

2. Create a new user account with your name, and give that user Administrator access

3. When finished, log out of system, then log back in as the new Administrator user

4. Go back to Users -> Accounts in Control Panel

5. Delete the "Sam" user

Note that your desktop for the new Administrator user will most likely look different, and some programs may need to be reinstalled as a result of creating the new account. However, most programs install for "all" users by default, so this likely won't be much of an issue.

This will certainly remedy the problem, and you won't see C:\Users\Sam any more.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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michaeltheclyde's picture

"New Computer" does not mean Previously Used, Open Box, Like New, Refurbished etc...
By the sounds of it, the store didn't bother to factory reset the computer.

Factory reset. Really? Formatting the drive and reinstalling the OS or running the Recovery Media does not make it new again. If you don't return it or at least ask for a price adjustment then the chance unscrupulous business practices happening to the next guy increase.

Dennis Faas's picture

A store in my area sells "open box" items - these are products that are opened up at the store for the customer to hold in their hand and review before a purchase; oftentimes this is done if an item is advertised for sale, but not on display. Also, sometimes items are purchased from the store, taken home, but returned a few days later, and sold as an "open box" item.

Open box items are sold as "new," but usually with a minor discount (about 5% to 10% or so). Sometimes these items are placed in a designated "open box" area, or are labeled as such on the box.

Most of the time, open box items go through a review and are reconfigured before being placed back on the shelf. That is what I meant by "factory reset". In this case, if the item was marked as "new" and sold without discount of any kind, that is definitely misleading and wrong.