If you have suddenly lost access to your user data and settings in Windows, the free program Reprofiler may be able to help you.
What Is The Issue? In XP, Vista and Windows 7, each user has a folder associated with their user name. It is often called the user profile folder and contains the settings and data particular to that user. Unfortunately, this link between your user account and your profile folder may be lost – Windows stops recognizing your profile folder as belonging to you.
This can happen for a number of reasons such as hard drive errors, change of username or file system/permission issues.
What Are The Symptoms? The next time you log on, a new (empty) user profile is created and this profile will be used for you in future instead of the correct one. The new user profile will not have your old settings so things like your desktop background picture, screensaver, desktop shortcuts etc may be different as they have reverted back to the default settings.
How To Fix It? It is possible to correct user profile errors manually but it involves serious editing of the registry and adjusting permissions – difficult and prone to error. A much easier way is to use a simple program to do it for you – step forward Reprofiler…
Reprofiler offers a quick way to see which profile is associated with which user. If a problem is evident, it lets you correct the profile ownership by reassigning the profile folder (settings and data) of a user account to another account. It is a tiny, free and portable program – download from the official site (at the bottom of the page) here.
Using Reprofiler – Follow the ‘Usage’ and ‘Correcting A Problem’ guides on the official site – carefully.
In particular, it is inadvisable to try changing the current logged on user profile – you should first log on as a different user (if you only had 1 user account on the computer then just create a new user account and log into that) and then run Reprofiler from there.
After Using Reprofiler
In case the problem was caused by a hard drive error, see our article how to check if your hard drive is failing.