In Windows 10, your user profile is stored in the user’s profile folder, which contains various settings such as sound, screensavers, desktop backgrounds, taskbar preferences, and personal folders. All of these settings ensure that your personal preferences are used when you sign in to Windows, so that your PC looks and works the way you want it to.
If the profile gets corrupted, you may lose your personal settings. In addition, you will get an error message that prevents you from logging into your user account, which can be very frustrating.
We will list some of the causes of this problem and how to fix corrupted user profile in Windows 10.
Causes of Corrupted User Profile in Windows 10
Corrupt user profile in Windows 10 is known to occur due to the following:
- Corrupted Profile Registry Key
- Failed Windows Updates
- Compromised system or user files
- Corrupted user account active directory
- Damaged hard drive file system caused by power failure, disk write errors, or virus attacks
- Failed automatic updates to Windows updating service pack installations or other critical system files that update your user profile
How to Fix a Corrupt User Profile in Windows 10
If you try to login to your user account on your PC and get an error message saying: “The User Profile Service service failed at login. User profile could not be loaded”, your user profile may be corrupted. It could also mean that there is an incorrect profile path in the registry for that user account.
Below are several troubleshooting methods that you can try to fix or completely replace a corrupted user profile.
- Run a virus or malware scan. Virus or malware attacks can damage the hard drive’s file system. In such cases, Windows 10 will not be able to load your user profile to boot properly and will stop the loading process. to run virus or malware scan can help detect and remove the malicious software that could corrupt your user profile.
- Try restarting your Windows PC about four times, each time letting your computer go to the desktop before restarting it. While this may seem crazy, it isn’t. Windows has a good self-healing process that allows it to fix the corrupt user profile, but it requires a few reboots.
Restore the old user profile from the temporary account
Sometimes Windows can log you in to a temporary account (C:\Users\TEMP) if your user account is corrupted and unable to start. In such cases, you will get a message that says: “We can’t login to your account” and “You are logged in with a temporary profile” notification.
However, you may not want to use a temporary account because you will lose any changes you make to the temporary profile after you log out.
- Before restoring your old user profile account, go to the Users folder on the local disk C:\Usersand check if you can see your old account with all its files. If not, go to C:\Windows.old and check if the files are archived there.
- If you find your old account with its files, back it up to an external drive or your favorite cloud storage so you don’t lose them.
- Open a command prompt by typing cmd in the search box, then select Command Prompt†
- Enter whoami /user in the command prompt and press Enter†
- Note the Security ID (SID) for the current account. If it’s a standard user account, log out and then log back in with an administrator account.
Remark: If you don’t have an administrator account, boot Windows in safe mode and enable the built-in administrator account. Log out of the current user account and then log back in to the administrator account.
- Right click Get started † Run† Type regedit and press Enter to open the Windows Registry Editor.
- Go to the following path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList†
- Among the extensive ProfileList key, check if the SID key you wrote down from the previous step is listed with .bak or without .bak at the end.
- If the SID key is listed without .bak, double-click the value name ProfileImagePath. Enter the correct path (C:\Users\username) of your user profile folder, then select Okay†
Remark: If the user profile folder does not exist, delete the SID key to create a new profile folder, then close the Registry Editor.
- Then check whether the State DWORD is set to 0 value and then close the Registry Editor. If the value is not set to 0, double click State DWORD, change the value data to 0 and select Okay†
- If the SID key is listed with .bak at the endright click on the SID key, select renameand rename the key to remove the .bak at the end of the key name.
- Then double click on the ProfileImagePath value name, enter the correct path of your user profile folder and select Okay†
- Check if the State DWORD value data is set to 0 and then exit the Registry Editor.
- If the SID key is listed with and without .bakright click and remove the SID key without .bak.
- Right click on the SID key with .bak at the end, select rename and rename the SID key to remove .bak at the end.
- Double click ProfileImagePath to change the value name, enter the correct user profile folder path and select Okay†
- Check if the State DWORD value of the SID key is 0 and then close the Registry Editor.
- Restart your PC and log in to the account with the temporary profile error to check if it is now resolved.
Create a new user account
If you were unable to recover your user profile account using the previous method, try creating a new profile account to replace it. Creating a new user profile does not delete the old corrupted user profile.
To do this and keep the same username, we go to the registry and delete the profile for the damaged user account. That way, when we restart Windows, you can log into the corrupted user account and create a new profile. You can then copy files from the older profile folder to the new one.
Remark: Before performing the steps below, create a system restore point that you can use to undo any mistakes you make in the process.
- Log in to an administrator account that is not affected by the corrupted profile and then open a command prompt.
- Enter this command: wmic user account get domain,name,sid and press Enter†
- Note the SID for the account name with the corrupted profile.
- Right click Get started † Runtype regedit and press Enter†
- Go to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\
key and find the SID key you wrote down in the previous step.
- Right click and remove each copy of the SID key you wrote down, with or without .bak, one at a time.
Remark: Do not delete any other SID keys that you find on the ProfileList.
- Select Yes and then close the command prompt and registry editor.
- Then log in to the account with the corrupted profile and then create a new default profile for it. Turn privacy settings on or off, then select To accept†
You can now copy and paste any files you want from your old profile folder into your new current profile folder. Make sure to copy each folder individually to avoid bringing hidden or problematic system files to the new user profile.
Paste the files into the new account, sign out of the old account, and sign in to your new account. All the files you transferred will be in the new account.
Restore your usual user profile
Now that you’ve recovered your account or created a new one, you can customize it to your liking with whatever preferences you had before the profile got corrupted.
Check out our complete guide to customizing Windows 10 and how to customize your Windows 10 Start Menu.
Fortunately, corruption of profiles does not lead to much data loss, but to be safe, you should regularly backup your files.