Recover Your Lost User Profile in Windows10

Avatar

If you can’t log into your Windows 10 user account, chances are it might have been corrupted. Since it contains your personal settings for the PC like wallpaper, apps pinned to the Taskbar, or the browser history, losing it can be aggravating. Thankfully, there are several ways to fix your current account. Alternatively, you can create a new one.

Signed into a temporary profile

If you try to sign into your Win 10 account, but Windows signs you into a temporary user account, your Windows updates could have been interrupted. I don’t need to tell you how unfavorable is an interrupted Windows update, so try to avoid interfering once it’s started installing. The downside of the temporary user account is each time you log out, Windows deletes your settings.

When Windows signs you into a temporary user account, you will see two of the possible errors:

In both cases, the rule of thumb is to sign out and try to sign back in. If that doesn’t fix it, move on to the next fix.

Get Your Security Identifier (SID)

First, find the security identifier of the temporary account you’ve signed into (SID), which is used by Windows to manage your permissions and interactions.

In the Search field type → cmd → open Command Prompt → type whoami/user → press Enter.

You’ll see the SID of your current temporary user account → to note it, press Ctrl+M to highlight → left-click and drag over SID → copy it by pressing Ctrl+C.

Edit the Registry

To recover your lost Win 10 profile, you’ll need to make some registry edits. You can face dire consequences if you mess up with the registry, so follow the instructions carefully.

Open the Search → type regedit → load Registry Editor → in its address bar, paste the following:

Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

Hit Enter → to the left, there’s a folder dubbed ProfileList→ inside it, you’ll find a list of SIDs.

From there, look carefully to locate your SID. It’s one of the three options:

1. It’s listed twice, with and without the .back extension.
2. Your SID is listed once with a .bak extension.
3. It’s listed once without a .bak extension.

Once you’ve identified, which is your scenario, follow the corresponding fix.

1. Your SID is listed twice

If you find your SID with and without the .bak extension, the fix is to delete the duplicate folder. In our case, the duplicate folder is the one without the .bak extension.

To delete the folder without the .bak extension → in the left pane, right-click the folder → hit Delete → Yes.

Applies to 1, 2 – Rename .bak folder

To rename the .bak folder → right-click it → Rename → remove .bak from its title’s end → Enter to save changes.

Applies to 1, 2, and 3 – Fix the folder path and state

To identify the correct path to your user profile, hit Windows key + R → open Run → enter C:\Users → Enter → see the list of your user profiles.

Now, back to the .bak folder with your SID:

In the left pane → right-click the folder → in the right pane, double-click ProfileImagePath → Value → enter the correct path for your original Win 10 user profile → OK.

In the right-side registry pane, double-click State → Value data → set it to 0 → OK.

Close the Registry → restart your PC → sign into your original Win 10 user account. Things should be back to normal now.

Otherwise, you can make a new user account that’s not temporary but a permanent one.

New Win 10 User Account

If all the above failed to fix your Win 10 user account, you could make yourself a new one. You’ll have to set your preferences and apps pinned to taskbar all over again, but it’s better than using the temporary account that deletes those settings every time you log out.

1. Boot into Safe Mode:

Restart your PC → on the sign-in screen, hold Shift + click Power → Restart.
You’ll see a “Choose an option” → Troubleshoot → Advanced Options → Startup Settings → Restart.

Your PC will restart again → press F4 to boot into Safe Mode.

2. Turn on Administrator Account:

In the search bar enter cmd → right-click the relevant result → Run as administrator.

Once the Command Prompt runs → input:

net user administrator /active:yes

Press Enter → you’ve enabled the hidden admin account on your machine → restart your PC to sign into the new account.

3. Set up a new account:

Press Windows key+ I → Settings → Accounts → Family and other users → Add someone else to this PC.

Now, you can just follow the wizard prompts, but remember you have two options – create a Microsoft account, which uploads your data to the cloud or create a local account.

By default, Windows will prompt you to create a Microsoft account, but if you wish to create a local one instead, choose I don’t have this person’s sign-in information → Add a user without a Microsoft account.

4. Move your files:

Restart your PC again, log into the admin account → press Windows key + R → open Run, and input C:\Users → Enter → go to your old corrupted account → copy/paste all your user files from the broken account to the new one.

It’s best if you do it folder by folder to avoid accidentally moving any hidden system files that might be the cause of the issue in the first place.

  • To bulk-select all files in a folder, open the folder and hit Ctrl+A.
  • To select individual files in a folder, hold Ctrl and left-click the files you wish to select.
  • To copy, press Ctrl+C.
  • Navigate to the Users folder → new account → Ctrl+V. You’ve pasted your files to the new account.

Once you’re done copying your files, sign out of the admin account, and log back into your new user account. Your files should be there, so now you can customize your desktop appearance, default apps and the taskbar preferences all over again. In this case, however, Windows won’t erase your settings and preferences.