Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Lost Your Windows Profile?

There is a problem that has been around since the days of XP but it has become more prolific. I used to see it maybe once every year or so but now I’m getting called sometimes several times a week!

The problem is that Windows decides that your profile is corrupt and so creates a new one. Suddenly all your icons have gone, your documents and pictures are missing and your email doesn’t work!

I've no idea why this happens nor why Windows can't fix it itself but I suspect that it may be down to some file corruption.

Fortunately all is not lost and the fix is simple, though VERY dangerous for those without proper understanding (and backups) since it involves changes to the registry and that could kill your computer!

If you're not comfortable editing the registry then stop now and proceed no further; getting things wrong could seriously damage your windows installation!



OK, if you're still wanting to fix this, first thing is for you to make sure your registry is backed up.  If you mess up you may not be able to restore it anyway, but at least you're giving yourself a fighting chance.

Next you need to run the registry editor and open up
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\

In there you should find a couple of entries looking like
S-1-5-21-2363073414-1937386124-4237778777-1001 and S-1-5-21-2363073414-1937386124-4237778777-1001.bak
- though your numbers would doubtless be different.

The first is the temporary profile that windows set up and the second is your original one and if you look in the second one you should find an entry ProfileImagePath which should contain the path to your user area, eg. C:\Users\Ken

Rename the first entry to have an extension of, say .sav (just in case, though I'm not sure in case of what?  I just don't like deleting things!) and rename the second entry so it does not have an extension.

Within this latter entry there will be 2 keys; RefCount and State and these both need to be zero so make any changes required.

After that, reboot the computer and if all has gone well, your profile will be restored.

I'm intentionally not giving a lot of detail about how to do things because if you don't understand ANY of this, then you shouldn't be doing it!

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