Recovering A Corrupted XP User Profile

A user profile on a Microsoft Windows XP system contains all the files and settings needed to configure your work environment. If the user profile becomes damaged, Windows XP will display one of two error messages when you log on to the system:

Windows cannot load your profile because it may be corrupted. You may be logged in using a temporary User Profile.

OR:

The system has recovered from a serious error.

The operating system will then automatically create a new user profile and log you in to this new profile. When this occurs, you’ll immediately discover that all your personalized settings – such as color scheme, wallpaper, and icons – are gone. Even more disturbing is that the My Documents folder doesn’t show any of your documents. You’ll also discover that Outlook Express and Internet Explorer will be void of any of your personal settings and data.

When this happens, it’s very easy to quickly go into panic mode and think that you’ve lost everything. However, in most cases, all you’ve actually lost is the user profile and most, if not all, of your data is safe and sound.

Must be an administrator

Keep in mind that in order to perform the recovery operations discussed in this article, you must be working from an account with Computer Administrator privileges. If the temporary account that Windows XP creates for you when your original becomes damaged has Computer Administrator privileges, you can use it as a staging area for the recovery operation. If it’s not, you’ll need to log off, then log on to the default Administrator account or to another account that has Computer Administrator privileges. I’ll refer to this as the “working account” throughout this article.

Backing up your data

The first thing that you’ll want to do is make sure that the data in your original account is safe and then back it up. To begin the backup operation, launch Windows Explorer and navigate to the C:\Documents and Settings folder. Then, locate and open your original account folder. At this point, you should see all the files and folders in your original user profile, as shown in Figure A.

You’ll then want to copy your crucial data files to another location. For example, you’ll definitely want to copy the contents of your My Documents folder, which will appear as UserName’sDocuments. (On my example system, it’s called Greg Shultz’s Documents.) You may also want to copy the contents of the Favorites folder. If you’re using Outlook Express, you can find the files that make up your e-mail messages stored in the Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{#####}\Microsoft\Outlook Express folder. You’ll find your Address Book file in the Application Data\Microsoft\Address Book folder. If you’re using Outlook 2000/XP, you’ll find the PST file in the Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder.

Once you’ve backed up your crucial data files, you can proceed with the recovery operation knowing that your data is indeed safe and sound.

Figure A

You’ll then want to copy your crucial data files to another location. For example, you’ll definitely want to copy the contents of your My Documents folder, which will appear as UserName’sDocuments. (On my example system, it’s called Greg Shultz’s Documents.) You may also want to copy the contents of the Favorites folder. If you’re using Outlook Express, you can find the files that make up your e-mail messages stored in the Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{#####}\Microsoft\Outlook Express folder. You’ll find your Address Book file in the Application Data\Microsoft\Address Book folder. If you’re using Outlook 2000/XP, you’ll find the PST file in the Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder.

Once you’ve backed up your crucial data files, you can proceed with the recovery operation knowing that your data is indeed safe and sound.

Using System Restore

The first thing to try when attempting to recover a damaged user profile is a System Restore operation. As you know, the System Restore utility is designed to allow you to return your computer to the state it was at an earlier time period. In this case, the goal is to return your system to the state it was in before the user profile was damaged.

Before you attempt this operation, there are two things you need to be aware of. First, if there are multiple user accounts on the system, performing a System Restore operation will return all user profiles to the state they were in at that earlier time. Second, depending on the severity of the damage to the user profile, performing a System Restore operation may not be able to rectify the problem.

You’ll find the System Restore utility on the All Programs | Accessories | System Tools menu. Once you launch System Restore, you’ll see the Welcome To System Restore page and can simply click Next. On the Select A Restore Point page, select the last restore point created before the damage to the user profile became apparent, then click Next. When you’re prompted to confirm the operation, click Next, and the restore operation will begin.

Once System Restore finishes, it will restart the system. When it does, you can attempt to log on using your original user account. If System Restore was able to successfully recover the user profile, everything should be the way it was.

If you’re still unable to log on to your original account, it’s time to escalate your user profile recovery operation to the next level. However, you may first want to undo the System Restore operation.

To undo the System Restore operation, log on to the working account and launch System Restore. When you see the Welcome To System Restore page, you’ll discover a new option titled Undo My Last Restoration. Just select that option, click Next, and follow the onscreen instructions.

Copying your user profile

In this user profile recovery technique, you’ll attempt to revive the user profile by creating a new account and, subsequently, a new user profile. You’ll then copy your old user profile in its entirety to the new account. While this may sound like an operation that will simply replicate the problem over to the new account, it does indeed revive the user profile on occasion. Again, keep in mind that the success of this attempt depends on the severity of the damage to the user profile. However, since it’s a relatively painless operation, it’s worth a shot.

To begin, access the Control Panel and launch the User Accounts tool. Next, select the Create A New Account link. Then, give the account a name and click Next. When prompted to pick an account type, make sure the Computer Administrator option button is selected, and then click the Create Account button.

Once you create the new account, close the User Accounts tool. Then, click Start | Log Off. When you see the Log Off Windows dialog box, click the Log Off button. When either the Welcome Screen or the Log On To Windows dialog box opens, select or type the name you used for the new account. As soon as you do, Windows XP will create a user profile for the new account.

When the user profile creation procedure is complete and the system starts up, immediately click Log Off. Then, log back on to the working account.

Now, open the Start menu, right-click My Computer, and select Properties. When you see the System Properties dialog box, select the Advanced tab. Then, locate and click the Settings button in the User Profiles section. You’ll now see a User Profiles dialog box that looks like the one shown in Figure B.

Figure B

In this example, I’ll be copying the user profile from the Greg Shultz account to the Greg Shultz2 account. I’ll begin by selecting the Greg Shultz user profile and clicking the Copy To button. When the Copy To dialog box appears, click the Browse button and then use the resulting Browse For Folder dialog box to locate the Documents and Settings folder and select the new account.

At this point, the Copy To dialog box will look like the one shown in Figure C. To continue, just click OK. You’ll then see a confirmation dialog box that informs you that the original files will be deleted and prompts you to confirm the copy operation. Just click Yes.

Figure C

Once the copy operation finishes, close the User Profiles dialog box and the System Properties dialog box, then log off. At this point, you can attempt to log on to the new account. If this technique was able to successfully recover the user profile, everything should be the way it was.

If you’re still unable to log on to your account, it’s time to move to the next level. However, you’ll first need to completely remove the new user account and user profile. To do so, log on to the working account, access the User Profiles dialog box again, select the profile, and click the Delete button. Then, access the User Accounts tool and delete the new account and its files.

Moving to a new user profileIn this user profile recovery technique, you’ll move to a new user profile by creating a new account and, subsequently, a new user profile. You’ll then copy your data files and other portions of the user profile from your original to the new one. Keep in mind that when you move to a new user profile in this manner, you will lose all your personalized settings, such as color scheme, wallpaper, and icons.

You’ll follow the instructions I presented earlier for creating a new account and a new user profile. In short, you’ll access the User Accounts tool to create a new account. Then, log on to the new account to create a default new user profile. Finally, log off and then log back on to the working account.

To begin this operation, launch Windows Explorer and navigate to the C:\Documents and Settings folder. Then, locate and open your original account folder. At this point, you should see all the files and folders in your original user profile, as shown earlier in Figure A.

Copy the contents of the folders containing the data that you want to move to your new user profile. In the case of my example system, I’d begin by copying the contents of the C:\Documents and Settings\Greg Shultz\Greg Shultz’s Documents folder to the C:\Documents and Settings\Greg Shultz2\Greg Shultz2’s folder.

In addition, you’ll want to copy the contents of the Favorites, Outlook Express, and Address Book folders if you’re using that e-mail program, or the Outlook folder. You may also want to copy the contents of Cookies, Templates, and any other folders that contain critical data files.

Be careful not to copy any files that are specifically related to the operating system, as any one of those files could be the culprit in the case of the corrupted user profile. For example, you definitely won’t want to copy Ntuser.dat, Ntuser.pol, or Ntuser.ini from your old user profile to your new one.

When you’re finished copying files, log out of the working profile, and then log on to your new user profile. When you do, you should be able to access all your data files and most of your applications, just as you did with your old profile. However, keep in mind that you may have to reinstall or at least reconfigure some of your applications. And, of course, you’ll need to recreate all your personalized settings.

Cleaning out your old profile

Once you’ve totally moved into your new user profile, you’ll want to permanently delete your old, corrupted user profile. While you may be tempted to do so from within Windows Explorer, you shouldn’t because it won’t completely remove all the settings associated with your old user profile.

To do it the right way, access the User Profiles tool from the Advanced tab of the System Properties dialog box. Once you do, select the old user profile from the list and click the Delete button.

The automatic user profile backup techniqueSo you won’t ever have to go through all these troubleshooting steps should the user profile ever get corrupted again, you can trick Windows XP into administering the local user profile as if it were a roaming user profile. When you do so, Windows XP will back up your user profile each time you log off.

To use this trick, you have to log off your new account and log on to the working account. Then, access the User Profiles tool from the Advanced tab of the System Properties dialog box, select your user profile, click the Copy To button, and type the name of a folder on another drive in the Copy Profile To text box.

Once you complete that part of the operation, launch the Computer Management console, which you can do by pressing [Windows]-R and typing compmgmt.msc in the Open text box. Then, drill down to System Tools\Local Users and Groups\Users folder. Next, double-click on your account name and select the Profile tab. Then, type the path to the backup in the Profile Path text box, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

About these ads

26 Responses to “Recovering A Corrupted XP User Profile”

  1. prakash Says:

    Hi

    user environment problem in logon screen

  2. Kenny Blewett Says:

    Hey guys!

    I am proud to announce that our new site is 110% functional!!

    Please pay us a visit at http://blog.lpfsystems.com/

    Look forward to hearing from you all!

    Kenny

  3. Saleem Afzal Says:

    hi,
    i did copy a profile to my d drive in a folder that has already have the data. after copy it has gone. please tell/email me how to get my data back.
    thanks
    saleemafzal72@gmail.com

  4. Adam L. Says:

    Thanks for help! I was glad to read all this info and have had to read countless pages to try and string stuff together. I hope I have enough to transfer to a new profile correctly- I fear the old one is corrupted but functional. Thanks.

  5. Roger Iyengar Says:

    This worked perfectly for me! Thanks a lot.

  6. Joe K Says:

    Thank you very much. These things have a tendency to happen when you have a tight deadline approaching! You saved me and the information was well written.

  7. fast secured loans Says:

    I may get around to doing a similar thing
    myself sometime, should I find funding.

  8. how do i Says:

    I don’t even understand how I finished up here, however I thought this put up used to be good. I do not recognize who you are however definitely you are going to a famous blogger in the event you aren’t already.

    Cheers!

  9. how to install garage door opener Says:

    Its not my first time to pay a quick visit this website, i am visiting this web
    page dailly and take nice facts from here every
    day.

  10. lift master garage door opener Says:

    I believe what you posted was actually very reasonable.
    However, what about this? what if you were to write a killer
    title? I mean, I don’t wish to tell you how to run your website, however what if you added a title that grabbed a person’s attention?
    I mean Recovering A Corrupted XP User Profile | LPF Computer Tips and Information – Windows XP,
    Vista and Linux is kinda vanilla. You could peek at Yahoo’s home page and note how they create
    article titles to get viewers to open the links. You might add a related video or a pic or two to get people excited about what you’ve got to say.

    In my opinion, it would make your blog a little livelier.

  11. garage door repair Says:

    I seldom leave a response, but i did a few searching
    and wound up here Recovering A Corrupted XP User
    Profile | LPF Computer Tips and Information – Windows
    XP, Vista and Linux. And I do have a couple
    of questions for you if you don’t mind. Could it be only me or does it appear like some of these
    comments look as if they are coming from brain dead folks?
    :-P And, if you are writing on other online social
    sites, I’d like to keep up with everything new you have to post.
    Could you make a list of the complete urls of all your
    community pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  12. liftmaster garage door opener Says:

    Awesome issues here. I’m very happy to peer your article.
    Thank you so much and I am taking a look ahead to touch
    you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

  13. garage door repair Says:

    Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your site.
    You have some really good articles and I believe I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love to write some material for
    your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please send me an email if interested. Kudos!

  14. how to fix garage door opener Says:

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for wayne dalton garage door opener manual Bluffton sc

  15. chamberlain garage door opener battery Says:

    Thanks for a marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you may be a great author.
    I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back very soon. I want to encourage continue your great
    posts, have a nice morning!

  16. raynor garage door opener Says:

    Hi there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone!

    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward
    to all your posts! Carry on the great work!

  17. garage door repair Says:

    Normally I don’t learn article on blogs, however I
    would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to try and do so!

    Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, very nice article.

  18. quiet garage door opener Says:

    you are actually a just right webmaster. The site loading pace is incredible.
    It sort of feels that you’re doing any distinctive trick.

    Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you’ve performed a
    excellent activity in this matter!

  19. garage door repair Says:

    What’s up, after reading this amazing paragraph i am also glad
    to share my know-how here with friends.

  20. garage door opener Says:

    If some one needs to be updated with newest technologies therefore he must
    be pay a visit this website and be up to date daily.

  21. clicker garage door opener Says:

    Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and
    you are just extremely magnificent. I actually like what
    you’ve acquired here, really like what you are stating and the
    way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it sensible.
    I can not wait to read far more from you. This is actually a terrific site.

  22. iphone garage door opener Says:

    Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this website.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very difficult to get that “perfect balance” between usability and appearance.
    I must say you’ve done a fantastic job with this.
    In addition, the blog loads extremely fast for me on Internet explorer.
    Superb Blog!

  23. garage door repair Says:

    For newest information you have to pay a visit internet and on the web
    I found this web page as a best website for newest updates.

  24. garage door repair Says:

    Hello there! I know this is somewhat off topic
    but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
    I’m getting tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers
    and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.
    I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  25. stanley garage door opener parts Says:

    Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too great.
    I really like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it.

    You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it smart.
    I can’t wait to read much more from you. This is
    actually a great site.

  26. replace garage door opener Says:

    Good day! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a
    quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy
    reading through your posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums
    that cover the same topics? Thanks for your time!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: