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How To Fix a User Profile Error in Windows 10.

Yesterday, my wife was trying to log on to her Windows 10 laptop when she received a strange error: “The User Profile Service failed the logon. User profile cannot be loaded.” She could not log in to her normal account, instead being given a temporary guest account for access. Neither logging off nor rebooting the computer fixed the issue.

After a quick Google search, I learned that a corrupted user profile is a somewhat common issue with Windows 10 and is apparently most often caused by trying to log on to the computer during a virus scan. Whether or not this was responsible for my wife’s problem, I’m not sure.

I found a relatively quick and painless solution for this problem on the Microsoft support website. It involves modifying the registry file, which should always be handled with extreme care. Before you change anything in the registry, always create backups – the checklist includes a link on how to do that, if you need instruction.

To fix the issue, follow this process:

  1. Click Start, type regedit in the Search box, and then press ENTER.
  2. In Registry Editor, locate and then click the following registry subkey:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
  3. In the navigation pane, locate the folder that begins with S-1-5 (SID key) followed by a long number.
  4. Click each S-1-5 folder, locate the ProfileImagePath entry in the details pane, and then double-click to make sure that this is the user account profile that has the error.
    1. If you have two folders starting with S-1-5 followed by some long numbers and one of them ended with .bak, you have to rename the .bak folder. To do this, follow these steps:
      1. Right-click the folder without .bak, and then click Rename. Type .ba, and then press ENTER.2493038
      2. Right-click the folder that is named .bak, and then click Rename. Remove .bak at the end of the folder name, and then press ENTER.2493039
      3. Right-click the folder that is named .ba, and then click Rename. Change the .ba to .bak at the end of the folder name, and then press ENTER.2493040
    2. If you have only one folder starting with S-1-5 that is followed by long numbers and ends with .bak. Right-click the folder, and then click Rename. Remove .bak at the end of the folder name, and then press ENTER.
  5. Click the folder without .bak in the details pane, double-click RefCount, type 0, and then click OK.
  6. Click the folder without .bak, in the details pane, double-click State, type 0, and then click OK.
  7. Close Registry Editor.
  8. Restart the computer.
  9. Log on again with your account.

After following this process, my wife’s user account was back up and running with zero issues. Give it a shot; if this still doesn’t resolve the issue, refer to the Microsoft support document for further options.

About Austin Thomé

Experienced tech professional based in Dallas, TX - architecting solutions and helping businesses solve problems / improve processes. Expert Coffee Drinker and Friend to All Mankind.


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About the Editor

Austin Thomé

Austin Thomé

Writer, enthusiastic IT Professional, expert coffee drinker, and website proprietor.

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