Windows – Overriding HOMEDRIVE and HOMEPATH as a Windows 7 user

active-directoryenvironment-variableswindows 7

My employer has an Active Directory group policy which sets my Windows 7 laptop HOMEDRIVE to "M:" (a mapped network drive) and my HOMEPATH to "\". Since I have read-only permissions for the root of that shared drive, I cannot create files or directories in my windows home directory. My attempts to work with the IT department have been unsuccessful.

Is there a way for me to globally change these envars at boot or login time? I need for all applications to use alternate values (such as "C:" and "\Users\myname"). I have some installed utilities (like gvim and others) that store preference files in the user's home directory.

IMPORTANT: Changing these envars under "System Properties > Environment Variables" does not work. I have tried setting these as both User and System Variables (including a reboot). TypingSET HOMEin a DOS window clearly shows that my settings are ignored. Also, using "Start in" in a Windows shortcut will also not solve this, as I need things like Explorer context menu items (like "Edit with Vim") to operate correctly.

I do have admin rights on this company laptop, but I am not a Win7 guru. Back in the day, a boot script would have solved this in a minute. Is it even possible today? Thanks.

Best Answer

Below are some hacks I've developed. They are not elegant, but may be functional in your corporate environment.


It seems that many applications only use HOMEDRIVE / HOMEPATH. In that case, you can create a startup script that remaps the base drive letter to your local user path via the UNC drive admin path:

set HOME

net use g: /delete
net use g: \\localhost\C$\Users\username

HOMEDRIVE Local Default

If you do not need to access "Server" by name at all, you can cause the group policy setting to fail and fall back to your local machine. The easiest way to do this is to add an entry to C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts like:   Server

After rebooting, you should see something like:

set HOME

HOMEDRIVE/SHARE with Hybrid Local/Remote UNC Paths

If you want access to "Server" by name for some UNC paths, but override others with local paths, I have developed the following abomination. Note: direct server connections to "Server" will still resolve to your local machine. I recommend this solution only if "Server" is only a file server:

  1. Modify C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts to redirect "Server" to your local machine:   Server
  2. Add the following Multi-String registry value to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa\MSV1_0 to allow credentials to be passed to the local UNC path:

    BackConnectionHostNames = Server
  3. Create a dummy directory that will serve as the root of Server:

    set DUMMY_LOC=C:\Server_Dummy
    mkdir %DUMMY_LOC%
    cd /D %DUMMY_LOC%
  4. For each UNC path you want to direct to the real Server:

    rem Alternatively you can use an IP below, but it is more likely to break if DNS changes
    rem Take a look at what's available...
    net view \\%SERVER_FQDN%\
    mklink /D Remote_Example \\%SERVER_FQDN%\Remote_Example
    net share Remote_Example=%DUMMY_LOC%\Remote_Example /grant:everyone,FULL
  5. For each UNC share you want to define locally (such as Users):

    rem The link isn't really necessary for the share, I just find it easier to manage when all of these hacks are in the same directory
    mklink /D Users C:\Users
    net share Users=%DUMMY_LOC%\Users /grant:everyone,FULL
  6. Reboot

For the example, this would allow the following UNC paths to be resolved:

\\Server\Remote_Example => \\\Remote_Example
\\Server\Users          => C:\Users

This path resolution should occur prior to drive mappings. As long as the UNC paths associated with the mappings are valid (be they local or remote), drive letters should behave as expected.

For example, in my setup the following variables are forced by the domain:

set HOME

But due to my mappings, the result is:

G: => \\Server\Users\username => C:\Users\username
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