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How to fix: Windows 7 loads default instead of user-modified profile wiping off all settings, files, email accounts, bookmarks

I repeatedly run into the “default user profile instead of my user settings” problem with Windows 7. Once in a while when I log in onto my user profile on my Win 7 computer, it logs into default user profile and all my settings in web browsers, office files and other software is gone! MS Outlook asks me to set up all the email accounts over again! My documents directory is empty, but all files still can be found in C:\\Users\myusername… So what is the problem and how to fix it quickly? Last time it happened I googled solution and quickly learned that this is pretty common problem for Windows 7, and the only fix is to edit Registry. Now as it happen again this morning I could not found exact instructions on the web again, so after frantic searching for solution (and finally fixing my PC), I decided to post it on my blog in IT tips section… 

One of the people posted in a forum, almost as an after-thought, all tucked away where, if you didn’t take the time to read thoroughly, you’d miss it:

“I solved my problem by going into the registry and delete the effected profile’s subfolder under:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList”

Note: HKLM refers to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” in the registry.

Help using the Windows Registry Editor.

So I decided to follow his advice and ran the Registry Editor by clicking on the Start button and typing Regedit to open it.

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Run "Regedit"

Looking at the registry editor, I browsed my way to the key as mentioned and found the profile that had the problem. The long numeric ID folder for that profile will have two folders:- one without .BAK extension and showing DEFAULT user profile, and the other with identical numerical ID, but followed with .BAK extension showing my user name in ProfileImagePath .

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Now you will need to rename the one with DEFAULT user as having .TMP extension and remove .BAK extension from the profile with your user name.

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Go File\Exit and reboot. Login as you normally do with your username and password. All my user settings, files, and profile were back on once I followed those instructions.

Disclaimer: If you do not feel comfortable tweaking Windows Registry – Don’t do it! Contact your IT support person instead.  If you brave enough – follow those directions. Smile They worked for me, but I assume no responsibility for your PC. Always document your steps while editing Registry so you can re-track. Good free program for keeping notes and screen shots from any device you own (or even computers you are fixing – to access your notes login into web interface) is Evernote. Create your FREE account here.

To quickly jump-start using Evernote, consider purchasing one of those books about Evernote:

"Evernote Essentials" by Brett Kelly

"Un-official Guide to Evernote" by Daniel E. Gold

Thanks you for comment. Glad

Thanks you for comment. Glad that you was able to solve your problem.

Larisa Golovko (Pozdnyakova), Ph.D. - President of Landviser, LLC

Thanks so much, I followed

Thanks so much, I followed your instructions as stated and I now have everything restored. For the record, my problem came up after using Glary Utilities and CCleaner to clear junk files and registry. Thanks again.