This step-by-step article describes how to restore a user
profile and the following user profile items:
- Desktop settings
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.
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
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
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:
- Log on to the computer as an Administrator.
- 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.
- 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
- Start Windows Explorer.
- Locate and right-click your old user profile folder, and
then click Properties.
By default, this folder is %SystemDrive%\Documents
- Click the Security tab.
- 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.
- Click OK.
To Edit the User Profile Registry KeyImportant
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:
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
section earlier in this article. To do this, follow
- Log on to the computer by using the user name of the user
profile that you want to restore.
- Click Start, and then click Run.
- In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK.
- In Registry Editor, locate and click the following registry
- 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
To locate your user profile folder, use one of the following
- For each folder that is listed under the ProfileList subkey, click the folder, and then in the right pane, look at the
This value contains the path to your user
profile (for example, %SystemDrive%\Documents and
Locate the folder
that contains the ProfileImagePath value that refers to your user profile.
- 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.
- After you locate the subkey folder for your user profile,
double-click the ProfileImagePath value.
- In the Value data box, type the path to
the user profile folder that you want to restore, and then click OK.
- Quit Registry Editor.
The next time that you log on to the computer, Windows uses
your restored user profile.
Article ID: 324734 - Last Review: December 3, 2007 - Revision: 8.5
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