Recovering A Lost XP User Profile

By | February 9, 2005

I don’t know whether to blame Microsoft or not, but immediately after downloading their latest automatic XP updates, my reboot ended in near disaster. I found myself logged on as administrator, and my original profile nowhere in the normal User Accounts window in Control Panel. In short: I didn’t exist on my own computer, along with my settings, my serial numbers for registered programs, my profiles for Skype, Trillian, etc. I could see my Documents And Settings folder; I could see my profile was still there (look in My Computer/Properties/Advanced/User Profiles/Settings). It’s just I couldn’t sign into it.

After a few hours, I’m pretty much back where I’m started, thanks to guidance from a Lockergnome page from TechProGuild: Basically you need to create two new accounts — one to copy your old profile to, one to do the copying in. It works, or at least it did in my case. But you might want to copy across everything else later manually, or as much as you can, as some programs (BlogJet, for example) store their settings in odd places. And I still haven’t found out what Skype has done with my contacts list.

But the bottom line, or lines, for me, are:

  • Is Microsoft putting out updates without testing them properly (I’m ready to accept it might not have been the update that did this, but as it was the last thing I installed before I rebooted, it’s obviously a suspect)?
  • Why hasn’t Microsoft got an easier way of solving this kind of issue? The solution TechProGuild’s Greg Shultz details is easy to follow and well illustrated, compared to the nearest Microsoft equivalent I could find which suggests, for example, that I ‘Press and hold down the CTRL key while you click each file and subfolder in this folder, except the following files:
    • Ntuser.dat
    • Ntuser.dat.log
    • Ntuser.ini’
    This is not an easy task with more than 60 folders and files to select. There should be a utility, a powertoy perhaps, that does this. A novice user would completely freak out. Which is pretty much what I am, and what I did.

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