Ending up with a corrupt user profile on a Windows computer can be quite frustrating, especially when there are important files locked in your corrupted user account. In this post we will be going through a method to fix a corrupted user profile in Windows 10 and another easy option to deal with this scenario.
User Profile in Windows Computer
A user profile in a Windows computer can be described as a customized desktop environment or visual display of desktop settings associated with a particular user. A typical user profile contains the settings for desktop background, screen savers, program icons, shortcuts to folders/programs and other features.
The main object of creating a user account or a user profile on a computer is to allow the user to make the desktop environment look and work the way a user wants to see and use it. The access to a user profile can be protected with a password to prevent others from modifying the working environment.
Reasons For Corrupted User Profile in Windows 10
There could be many reasons for the user profile getting corrupted on a Windows 10 computer, apart from the two most commonly cited reasons.
- According to Microsoft a user profile can become corrupted if your antivirus software is scanning your PC while you try to log on to a user profile.
- Users have also reported a corrupt user profile after upgrading to Windows 10 from an older version of Windows.
Ways to Fix A Corrupt User Profile In Windows 10
There are two ways to resolve the problem of a corrupted user profile on a Windows computer.
- Fix a Corrupt user profile by correcting Registry values.
- Create a new account and transfer the data from old to new user account.
You may either try to correct the user profile by correcting the registry values or simply create a new user account and transfer your data from the old account to the new one.
Fix Corrupt User Profile By Correcting Registry Values
This method is meant for advanced users and only recommended in case you are comfortable working with registry files. Any error/mistake while working with registry files may result in a loss of data or access to your computer. It is highly recommended that you create a backup of your hard disk, before proceeding with these steps.
In case you are unable to login to your user profile, try to restart your computer and see if you are able to login. If this does not help, restart the computer again, and enter the Safe Mode. Once you are in Safe Mode, follow the steps below to correct a corrupt user profile.
1. Right Click on the Windows 10 Start button and click on Run.
2. Type regedit into the search box and press Enter.
3. Now, navigate to the following key:
Once you follow the file path and reach Profile List, you will see folders starting with S-1-5. Each of these folders represents a user profile or a user account created on your computer (See image in step#4 below).
4. Click on each S-1-5 folder and identify the folder that is related to the user account that you are trying to fix.
You will be able to clearly identify the user account that each of these folders is related to by taking a look at the ProfileImagePath entry that you will see on the right side of your Window (See image below).
5. Once you have identified the right folder, Double Click on the entry “State” to launch a pop-up window (See image below) and change the value to 0.
6. Next, Double Click on the entry “RefCount” to launch a popup window (See image below) and change the value to 0.
Note: If you do not have RefCount, then you can create a new file by right clicking anywhere on the blank space in the right pane – Click New > DWORD (32 bit) > type RefCount > click on Enter.
7. Close regedit and restart your computer. You should now be able to log into your account.
Create A New User Account
In some cases you may be unable to login to your account even after changing the registry values. Also it is possible that that problem on your account is not related to incorrect registry values. In such cases it makes perfect sense to simply create a new user account, transfer your data to the new account and move on with life.
Access Hidden Admin Account
In case you have a spare Admin account that is not blocked, you can straight away login to that account and create a new user account. However, if your admin account is blocked, you can get access to a hidden admin account that Microsoft makes available for such occasions.
1. Restart your computer and boot it into Safe Mode.
2. Right click on the Windows 10 Start button and click on Command Prompt (Admin).
3. Now type in “net user administrator /active:yes” in the command prompt window and press Enter (See image below).
4. You will see a message saying “The command completed successfully”.
5. Reboot the computer and you will be able to login to the admin account that you just activated.
Now Create A New User Account
When you reboot after enabling your hidden admin account, you should see both the Administrator account as well as your corrupt account. Log into the admin account (no password required) and follow the steps below to create a new user account.
1. Click on the Windows 10 Start button and select Settings (See image below).
2. On the settings screen, click on Accounts.
3. Select Family & other users (See image below in step 4).
4. Select Add someone else to this PC (See image below).
5. Follow the instructions to create a new user account.
Note: You can either create a user account that is linked to your Microsoft ID or create a local user account that is not linked to a Microsoft ID.
Important: The account name must be different from the account which is corrupt. However, you can always rename the account later on, if you want to maintain the same user name as before.
Transfer Data from Old to New User Account
1. Login to the Admin Account that you had activated (You will be needing admin access to enter other user accounts and copy files).
2. Next, go to the corrupt user account folder – You will find this on C: drive, under Users (See image below).
3. Open the corrupted user profile and copy the contents from this to the new user profile that you just created.
It is better to copy folders one by one such as Desktop, Contacts, Downloads and other files that you need. In case you copy the entire user folder, you will end up copying the following hidden system files.
As you must have already guessed, above files are related to the corrupted user profile and copying these might result in bringing back the login issues back to your new user account.
Once you have copied all the files, login to your new account, you will be able to see all your data and files from your old user account. Your new user account will not be exactly the same as your old account, you will still need to change your desktop background, create folder/program shortcuts in order to get back your preferred desktop environment.