Tip

Recovering lost profiles in Windows 2000

This tip was submitted to the SearchWin2000.com Tip Exchange by member Ricardo Molina. Let other users know how useful it is by rating the tip below.


When a user logs in, a new folder is created under 'C:Documents&Settings' and the former desktop preferences and user configurations can occasionally be 'lost' (this profile usually remains in the user's former folder). With this tip you can recover the missing profile intact.

First of all, verify that the user's former folder still exists. You must then change permissions on that folder to allow the user access -- the user's information may have been altered, so they must be able to change it back. Then you must change registry keys (Don't attempt this unless you know what you're doing.) You must change the key:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Profile\List\(the new user's id)Profile\ImagePath from the new folder to the former.
With regedt32, you must then check the security of the HKEY_USERS (User's new SID). The user must have total control of that registry subfolder. You can grant them administrative access long enough to apply the change and then go back to their usual rights. Now when the user logs on, it will use their former profile folder, load their former 'ntuser.dat' into the registry, and everything will work as it did previously. This can be especially useful, for example, when a user is changing back and forth between domains.

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This was first published in January 2003

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