If an error message prevents you from signing in to your Windows 10 user account, your profile may be damaged. We'll show you how to fix the problem to restore your user profile or alternatively create a new account.

Your user account contains your personal settings such as desktop background, system tray settings and some program settings such as browser history. Losing this can be very frustrating.

Here's how to easily restore a user profile in Windows 10.

Why you shouldn't use the Windows Temporary Profile

If you try to log into your normal user account while it is broken, you will be put into a temporary account. This usually occurs when a critical Windows update was forcibly terminated in the middle of the process.

You will see one of two errors (or sometimes both):

  • You have been logged in with a temporary profile. You will not be able to access your files and the files created in this profile will be deleted when you log out. To fix this, sign out and try again later. Please refer to the event log or contact your system administrator for details.

  • We cannot log into your account. Often times, this problem can be resolved by signing out of your account and then signing back in. If you do not sign out now, you will lose any files you have created or modified.

Of course, you must first log out and then log in again. Chances are it won't work, but it's worth a try.

Signing in to a temporary profile is unsuitable as any changes you have made will be reset each time you sign out. So let's see how to restore your usual Windows profile.

Step 1: Find your security ID

First, you need to know the security identifier (SID) of the temporary user account that you are logged into. This unique string is used by Windows to control permissions and group your interactions.

  1. Do a system search for. by cmd and open the command prompt.

  2. Art whoami / user and press Enter. This command queries the system to give you the SID of the current account.

  3. Make a note of your SID. You can press Ctrl + M Enable highlighting, Left click and drag over the SID and then press Ctrl + C to copy it.

Step 2: restore your Windows profile with the registry

You will now need to edit the registry to restore the original profile. Editing the registry can be dangerous if you do something wrong. So please follow the instructions below carefully.

Do a system search for. by regedit and select the registry editor. Paste the following path in the address bar (go to View> Address Bar if you don't see it) and press Enter:

Computer HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows NT CurrentVersion ProfileList

You will see several subfolders in the ProfileList folder in the left pane, some of which contain SIDs.

One of three options should apply:

  1. Your SID is listed twice, with and without the BAK extension.

  2. Your SID is only listed once With a BAK extension (e.g. S-1-5-21-2795999757-2048908912-3492586281-1000.bak).

  3. Your SID is only listed once without a BAK extension (e.g. S-1-5-21-2795999757-2048908912-3492586281-1000).

The process is largely the same for all three options, but with a few minor differences. Follow all of the steps below in sequence, but only those that include your option number.

Option 1: delete the duplicate folder

If your SID is listed twice – and only in this case – you need to delete the folder without the BAK extension.

  1. In the left area, Right click the folder corresponding to your SID and has not the BAK extension.

  2. click Clear.

  3. click Yes to confirm.

Option 1 and 2: Rename the BAK folder

  1. In the left area, Right click the folder that corresponds to your SID and has the extension BAK.

  2. click Rename.

  3. Remove .BAK from the end.

  4. Press Enter to save the changes.

Option 1, 2 and 3: Customize the folder path and status

  1. In the left pane, click the folder that corresponds to your SID.

  2. Double-click in the right pane ProfileImagePath.

  3. By doing Measured value enter the correct path for your user profile (e.g. C: Users Joe).

  4. click OK.

If you are not sure what the value data should look like, press Windows Key + R to open Run, enter C: Users, and press Enter. This will bring up a list of all of your user profiles. You can enter the correct profile and copy the path from the address bar.

Once you've done this, do the following in the registry editor:

  1. Double-click in the right pane Status.

  2. Change that Measured value to 0.

  3. click OK.

Close the registry editor and restart your computer. Log back into your user account and you should find that everything is restored and back to normal.

If you're still having problems, read on to learn how to create a new permanent user account.

How to create a new Windows profile

If the above instructions haven't restored your profile, it's time to create a new user profile. Note that this will not restore your desktop settings, such as wallpaper or system tray settings, but it does mean that you will have a permanent user account again.

Step 1: Boot into Safe Mode

To get started, you need to start your PC in Safe Mode. In order to do this:

  1. Restart your computer.

  2. Hold on the login screen shift and click Performance> restart.

  3. When this is done, you are on the Choose an option Screen. Go to Troubleshooting> Advanced Options> Startup Settings> Restart.

  4. Your computer will restart. Press F4 to start it in safe mode.

Step 2: Activate the administrator account

Next, you need to enable the hidden administrator account.

  1. Once you're signed in, enter cmd in the search bar of the start menu

  2. Right click Command prompt and select Execute as administrator. This will open the command prompt in administrator mode.
  3. Entrance Network user administrator / active: yes and press Enter.

Note that you can undo this in the future by running the same command. just switch Yes to the No.

This will activate the hidden administrator account on your computer. Restart and then sign in to this new account.

Step 3: create a new account

Now that you've logged into the administrator account, it's time to create a new permanent Windows account.

  1. Press Windows key + I to open settings.

  2. Go to Accounts> Family & Other Users.

  3. click Add someone else to this PC.

  4. At this point you can simply follow the wizard. However, if you want to create a local account instead of a Microsoft account, click I don't have that person's credentials. and then Add a user without a Microsoft account.

Step 4: transfer your files

Finally, you need to transfer the files from your broken Windows profile to the new one.

To navigate to these files:

  1. Restart your PC and log back into the administrator account.

  2. Press Windows Key + R Run to open.

  3. Entrance C: Users and press Enter.

  4. Navigate to your old and defective user account.

Once you're here, copy all of your user files from that old account and paste them into the new one. You should do this for each folder individually; Otherwise, you might accidentally find some hidden and problematic system files.

To highlight all files in a folder, press Ctrl + A. To select certain ones in bulk, press and hold Ctrl like you left click. Alternatively, hold on Left click and drag about the files.

Then press Ctrl + C to copy them. Navigate back to the Users folder, enter the new account and press Ctrl + V to insert your files.

Then log out of the administrator account and log into your new account. All of the files that you transferred are there.

Related: Ways to Copy Files Faster in Windows 10

Remember to back up your data

Your Windows profile has now been restored and you have a permanent user account again. To prevent this from happening in the future, do not shut down your computer while it is installing an update.

Fortunately, this doesn't result in a lot of data loss in this profile corruption scenario. Regardless of this, you should back up your files regularly to protect yourself against all eventualities.

Image source: Dooder / Shutterstock

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About the author

Joe Keeley
(619 published articles)

Joe was born with a keyboard in hand and immediately started writing about technology. He has a BA (Hons) in Business and is now a full-time freelancer who enjoys making technology easy for everyone.

Posted by Joe Keeley

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