How To Restore a User Profile in Windows Server 2003

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Article ID: 324734 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q324734
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SUMMARY

This step-by-step article describes how to restore a user profile and the following user profile items:
  • Documents
  • Desktop settings
  • Favorites
  • Cookies
By default, when you first log on to a Windows Server 2003-based computer, Windows creates a user profile folder in the %SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings folder, and you are granted Full Control permission. If you lose the Full Control permission for this folder, Windows creates a new user profile folder the next time that you log on to the computer. You can no longer access the original user profile folder unless you have local administrative creditials on the computer.

By default, when Windows creates a new profile folder for you, Windows places the folder in the Documents and Settings folder. Windows tries to use your user name as the name of the new profile folder. However, if the old profile folder still exists, Windows modifies the name of the new folder to avoid duplication. When this occurs, you may see multiple profile folders for your user profile. The following information describes the default naming scheme that Windows uses for user profiles:
  • If the UserName folder does not already exist, Windows names the new profile folder:
    UserName
  • If the UserName folder already exists, Windows names the new profile folder:
    UserName.ComputerName
  • If the UserName.ComputerName folder already exists, Windows names the new profile folder:
    UserName.ComputerName.000
  • If the UserName.ComputerName.000 folder already exists, Windows uses the next available increment of the UserName.ComputerName.000 naming scheme.

    For example:
    UserName.ComputerName.001
You can also tell the order of the multiple profile folders by looking at the creation date or time, as long as the creation date or time has not been modified.

Requirements to Restore a User Profile

To restore a user profile, the Documents and Settings\UserName profile folder must still exist, and you must have the Full Control permission for this folder. If you do not have the correct permission for your user profile folder, you (or another user) must first log on to the computer as an Administrator and restore the required level of permission to your user profile.


To Copy Documents from the Current Profile Folder to the Appropriate User Profile Folder

If you have logged on to Windows since you lost access permission to your original profile folder, at least two user profile folders exist that use your user name. To make these files accessible from the user profile that you want to restore, follow these steps:
  1. Log on to the computer as an Administrator.
  2. Copy all documents from your current My Documents folder to the My Documents folder of the profile that you want to restore.

    NOTE: You do not have to follow this step if you moved your My Documents folder to a location outside the Documents and Settings folder; however, after you restore your user profile, you may have to re-specify the destination folder location of the My Documents folder.
  3. To retain the Internet links on your Favorites list, copy all Internet shortcuts from your current Favorites folder to the Favorites folder of the user profile that you want to restore.

    NOTE: Do not copy the Desktop.ini file.

To Grant Full Control Permission for the User Profile Folder

  1. Start Windows Explorer.
  2. Locate and right-click your old user profile folder, and then click Properties.

    By default, this folder is %SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\UserName.
  3. Click the Security tab.
  4. In the Group or user names list, click your user name, and then in the Permissions for UserName box, click to select the Allow check box that is next to Full Control.

    NOTE: If your user name does not appear in the Group or user names list, click Add, type your user name under Enter the object names to select, and then click OK.
  5. Click OK.

To Edit the User Profile Registry Key

Important This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows

Edit the registry so that the profile image path points to the user name to which you granted Full Control permission in the To Grant Full Control Permission for the User Profile Folder section earlier in this article. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Log on to the computer by using the user name of the user profile that you want to restore.
  2. Click Start, and then click Run.
  3. In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK.
  4. In Registry Editor, locate and click the following registry subkey:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
  5. Locate your user profile folder.

    NOTE: When you click the ProfileList subkey, several folders are listed under the subkey. Each of these folders belongs to a different user. These folders are named according to the user security identifiers (SIDs) and not according to the user names.

    To locate your user profile folder, use one of the following methods:
    • For each folder that is listed under the ProfileList subkey, click the folder, and then in the right pane, look at the ProfileImagePath value.

      This value contains the path to your user profile (for example, %SystemDrive%\Documents and Settings\UserName).

      Locate the folder that contains the ProfileImagePath value that refers to your user profile.

      -or-
    • In Registry Editor, click Find on the Edit menu. In the Find what box, type your user name, click to select the Data check box under Look at, click to clear the Keys and Values check boxes, and then click Find Next.

      Press F3 to repeat the search until you locate the correct folder under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList subkey that contains the ProfileImagePath value that refers to your user name.
  6. After you locate the subkey folder for your user profile, double-click the ProfileImagePath value.
  7. In the Value data box, type the path to the user profile folder that you want to restore, and then click OK.
  8. Quit Registry Editor.
The next time that you log on to the computer, Windows uses your restored user profile.




Properties

Article ID: 324734 - Last Review: December 3, 2007 - Revision: 8.5
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Web Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, 64-Bit Datacenter Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition
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