Windows 7 user profile lost when you log off or reboot


  • When you setup your desktop and change the picture in your user profile, then log off or reboot, Windows 7 loses those settings and restore to factory default.  We are joined to a domain running Server 2003.  How do I fix this problem?
    Friday, January 15, 2010 6:27 PM


  • Hello,

    Do you still get the message "'preparing your desktop" when re-login to Windows? Try the following method:

    1. Restart your PC to release the locks on your profile.
    2. Log on with another administrative account
    3. Delete C:\Users\%username%
    4. Delete C:\Users\TEMP
    5. Delete the registry key matching your SID from
    NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList". Check the value "ProfileImagePath" to make sure you pick your own profile.

    6. Restart once again.

    Monday, January 18, 2010 7:05 AM

All replies

  • Hello,

    Do you still get the message "'preparing your desktop" when re-login to Windows? Try the following method:

    1. Restart your PC to release the locks on your profile.
    2. Log on with another administrative account
    3. Delete C:\Users\%username%
    4. Delete C:\Users\TEMP
    5. Delete the registry key matching your SID from
    NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList". Check the value "ProfileImagePath" to make sure you pick your own profile.

    6. Restart once again.

    Monday, January 18, 2010 7:05 AM
  • There is a better way to fix the immediate problem. You can do this under your own user ID if you have administrative privileges:

    1. Run REGEDIT
    2. Navigate to "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList"
    3. You should find your profile key, with another named identically except for a ".bak" extension
    4. Delete the "normally named" key
    5. Rename the ".bak" named key to remove the ".bak" extension
    6. Restart your machine

    If you do not have administrative privileges, you will need to fist sign on with a user ID that does.

    This will allow you to preserve all of the customization you "lost" without having to recreate everything. I have to do this at home all of the time.

    The bigger concern is: "Why does this happen at all?"

    The only thing I have found (fairly) consistently is that it occurs whenever we use "Switch Users". Recently, I have noticed that whenever one user is logged on and then computer "sleeps", the next user will "lose" their settings, even if they properly log off the previous user. Executing the fix above always brings the desktop back.

    Any ideas, anyone?

    • Proposed as answer by Dmitry Bond Friday, October 12, 2012 7:53 AM
    Wednesday, March 03, 2010 8:18 PM
  • I have the same exact problem, Michael.  I've been searching for a solution ever since I put windows 7 pro 32 on my desktop, but still no luck.  In fact you are the first person I have found that has seemed to narrow this particular situation down to what I also believe causes the problem, switching users.  I also know this happens when I log off from one profile and log on to another.  For some reason, on my desktop, it happens every single time.  But if I restart the computer, then I can log on just fine.  I've even deleted one of the profiles all together and created another one with an entirely different name, but I'm still having the same problem.  I think my next step will be to reinstall windows 7 all together.  What's wierd is that I don't have this problem at all with my laptop with win 7 pro 64.  It really gets me mad that microsoft hasn't come up with a solution for this at all.  If they have, I haven't found it.  Anyway, I'll stick with restarting the computer each time until I look into it further.  Thanks for the tip and good luck.  Actually, I'm gonna take what you said and I'm gonna see if disabling my desktop from sleeping will help any.



    • Proposed as answer by LEVINGRP Thursday, September 02, 2010 2:58 PM
    Saturday, March 20, 2010 6:51 PM
  • All the above are steps are very helpful and correct.   They did correct all the ones we had issues with.  There was a exception for a few accounts that had been added to our domain 8+ years ago.   At that time these users had been added to security group which prevented their profile from being saved in Windows 7 professional.  Once we removed them from that group their profile worked.
    Thursday, September 02, 2010 5:13 PM
  • This is a great fix and works.  FYI I had this issue without switching logons.  This has happened to me twice, the first time it fixed itsself after I logged off and on a couple of times.  The second time I had just had an update form microsoft and got the profile problem after rebooting to complete the install.

    Thanks for the info...lets hope MS finds out what's causing this and FIXES it!



    Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:19 PM
  • Realize, of course, that this is just a "Band-Aid" patch, not a "healing" or resolution to the problem. Microsoft still needs to delve into this issue, which has existed since at least Windows XP, and provide a true "fix".

    - IMHO

    In the service of the King, D. Michael Paxton, Esq., MBA Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christos, Soli Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam To the praise of His glorious grace!

    Thursday, September 16, 2010 4:13 PM
  • Thomas have you taken leave of your senses?  Deleting --- C:\Users\%username% will delete ALL OF MY DATA!!!!!

    Am i missing something here?



    Friday, October 01, 2010 2:07 PM
  • Thanks!

    I tried this and nothing changed.

    I then restored the profile branch to the registry that I had backed up to

    put things in the same state as when I started.


    Any other suggestions other than deleting all of my user data as suggested above?


    -- Joe

    Friday, October 01, 2010 2:12 PM
  • Use CHKDSK to fix any disk error. How to use. Run command prompt as Administrator and run the following command CHKDSK /F Enter y when it wants to check at next reboot Now reboot and fix the registry !
    Tuesday, June 07, 2011 7:06 AM
  • I had the same issue on my domain account. The problem was the account was not a member of the domain users group but of the domain guest group.  Removed the account from domain guests and added domain users.  Problem was solved upon reboot.
    Thursday, August 18, 2011 3:29 PM
  • The MBR from the SSD is corrupting your user desktop.


    you may need another SSD to fully solve the puzzle

    • Edited by Wiqked Tuesday, November 15, 2011 2:41 AM
    Tuesday, November 15, 2011 2:41 AM
  • SWEET.  Thanks for the tip.  What happened to me was that I had originally named my user folder with my and my ex-wife's name. 

    I was not satisfied with the result of "Change your Account Name" of "MeandSHE".   All documents still had the old Username in the properties!! (and in the 

    Account Name via Control Panel>User Accounts and Family Safety>User Accounts in Windows 7 had only applied to the name of the account on login. s.  

    SO, I had booted into Safe Mode, renamed the folder, and upon reboot,  Poof!, I was booting into a temporary profile when trying to log into that user.

    That is, until I renamed that Regkey value you listed to the name of the folder I had renamed.

    Thanks!  You just saved me a ton of time (i.e., re-installing Windows, re installing all apps, pulling back files from my recovery disks!!!!)

    Monday, February 06, 2012 3:59 AM
  • Many thanks for the fix, it works, but sometimes for a while and the .bak reapears. I don't know WHY?

    But i have maybe an answer for your question  "Why does this happen at all?" I noticed that it happens for big or huge profiles

    and the "State" value in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\SID is MAYBE connected  to the profile dimension it can be evaluated by left clicking the profile directory (C:\Users\PROFILENAME) on the filesystem.

    To verify if this was true, i tried to clean the profile Directory it was really huge (46 Giga), it was full of configuration files, Pictures, movies, sounds file used by music software etc. But i did the sacrifice and canceled as much as i could. BUT this didn't help. The only good solution has been this hack for the registry

    I hope this can help to understand better.

    Good luck

    Sunday, March 04, 2012 12:13 AM
  • This worked like a charm. Yes, this issue still is out there and it's a royal pain. I still don't know why it happens either, only thing I can figure is that on 6/13 updates were rolled out for office, windows and .NET the user shut down at the end of the day after the night of the updates, and the system wasn't started again until this morning. 


    Monday, June 18, 2012 2:32 PM
  • Unfortunatley the suggested fix did not work for me. I tried all variations of the fix on multiple different machines, to no avail. Deleting the profile directory on the DC and allowiong it to be created again did not work either.

    The issue only appears to be affecting one of our domain users when they try to log on to a Windows 7 or Server 2008(Terminal Server) machine. XP does not seem to be affected.

    If anyone else is still experiencing the issue, prehaps we could work together to try to come up with a solution. I think the only other option I have is to recreate the profile in question from scratch.

    Wednesday, July 04, 2012 1:50 AM
  • Fast user switching seems to be the ultimate cause of some of these problems.. 'Switch User' sometimes also loses Custom Logon Background settings.

    Friday, September 21, 2012 8:26 AM
  • what do you mean by "The MBR from the SSD is corrupting your user desktop"
    Saturday, September 22, 2012 5:53 PM
  • Fixed it on the first shot, thanks!!!
    Tuesday, September 25, 2012 3:24 PM
  • check to see if the users are in the domain guests or guests group in Active directory.

    Windows 7 admin is disabled so therefore the profile is always temp and the reg key disappears after You logoff.

    This works happen to me.

    Monday, October 22, 2012 11:12 PM
  • w7 64 bit .... sp1

    Yesterday I went to use PC and it said 'preparing desktop' and created a default profile.I did a sytem restore back 24 Hrs ... and it recoverred and worked fine.

    Today it's back again, tried restore to same point ... no fix, tried an earlier restore - same problem.

    Followed steps from Michael Paxton, but there is no .bak profile listed there only the correct named profiles.

    My profile is admin ...

    Sunday, November 11, 2012 8:57 PM
  • Hey Michael

    Thank you very much for above resolution points. it really worked and issue is resolved

    and i also have the same concern: "Why does this happen at all?"

    Friday, June 07, 2013 2:08 PM
  • Thanks, It worked great! everything's back


    Charles Garber

    Tuesday, June 25, 2013 9:43 PM
  • hello sir good evening... i need a help.  i had a user profile named "Dell". and all data present in that download folder.

    when i logged in system goes into the temporary mode. so i have opened the regedit and by mistake delete my user profile key that is "Dell". how to i recover that profile and all the data. i have tried the system restore also but not able to recover that also. still system not restored its giving error. but it is any mathod to without recovery because i have tried all the method or restore also but getting failed please help me sir there is very impotent data my academic career depend on that i have my training project and spend on that more than 6 month for that project please help me sir. 

    Friday, September 13, 2013 10:54 AM
  • Your data should still be on your computer.  In Windows Explorer Go to C:/USERS directory, select (left click) your user name. The subdirectory you stored the file in should be available.  Copy wherever you wish, like your desktop. Operate from there.
    Friday, December 13, 2013 11:57 PM
  • it works, thank you
    Tuesday, January 07, 2014 7:56 AM