Coffeehouse Thread

24 posts

Forum Read Only

This forum has been made read only by the site admins. No new threads or comments can be added.

Why are windows user profiles so fragile?

Back to Forum: Coffeehouse
  • User profile image
    fabian

    Yet again i come across a Windows installation with a corrupt user profile. I have seen this issue on all editions since Windows 95. Either new users cannot login or current user gets the default profile loaded. The solution is often to format c: Now, it happend again. This time on a Windows Server 2012.

    What is with Windows and those User Profiles? I there something fundamentally wrong with the architecture of user profiles, since MS hasn't come up with some kind of tool that can verify and fix problems with user profiles. Atleast, i am not aware of any.

    What is it that makes it so hard to repair and any valid reason why that issue hasn't been resolved editions ago?

  • User profile image
    Ian2

    Not come across this issue myself but did a quick search - >

    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Fix-a-corrupted-user-profile

    Looks like a good place to start

  • User profile image
    ZippyV

    From my experience I've never had a corrupt user profile in my life and never heard about it from friends or colleagues.

    Why would the only solution be to format the whole drive. What's wrong with creating a new user profile?

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    , fabian wrote

     What is it that makes it so hard to repair and any valid reason why that issue hasn't been resolved editions ago?

    I think you need to look between your keyboard and chair for the answer, I have never ever seen this, so there must be something that you do to trigger this.

  • User profile image
    ZippyV

    @vesuvius: Or maybe it's a problem with the harddrive or an application that behaves very badly.

  • User profile image
    bondsbw

    I have to agree with the skeptics.  I have never come across an issue like this, and I have used every version of Windows since 95.

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    , ZippyV wrote

    @vesuvius: Or maybe it's a problem with the harddrive or an application that behaves very badly.

    He mentioned that this has happened to him on Win95, Win98, Win2K, XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and now Windows Server 2012, so there must be something he does or software he runs that repeatedly messes things up for him.

    My advice is to look elsewhere, Microsoft are not the problem.

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    I've had a corrupt profile once, and that was on Windows 2000. My machine took too long to log off/shut down so I had to hit the power button, probably right in the middle of profile unloading. When I tried to log back in the next day, I could log in, but only with a temporary profile (default wallpaper). In the next log in, everything was restored. In fact, I could hardly consider the profile as corrupt - more or less, a safe mode flag was set temporarily. In any case, it was my fault.

  • User profile image
    ZippyV

    , MasterPie wrote

    I've had a corrupt profile once, and that was on Windows 2000. My machine took too long to log off/shut down so I had to hit the power button, probably right in the middle of profile unloading. When I tried to log back in the next day, I could log in, but only with a temporary profile (default wallpaper). In the next log in, everything was restored. In fact, I could hardly consider the profile as corrupt - more or less, a safe mode flag was set temporarily. In any case, it was my fault.

    There has been another topic here on Channel9 about the same issue and most people could solve it with a simple reboot.

  • User profile image
    fanbaby

    The registry, another excellently engineered idea that turned out to be idiotic.

    Text files, an old, inefficient idea that's just good enough(tm)

  • User profile image
    JoshRoss

    Do you keep your user profiles local or on another server?

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    What else constitutes a user profile besides your credentials/privileges and your user directory? If you can log in, then it's a matter of accessing your settings from your directory and if you can't access those, you either have faulty hardware or a temporary flag was set to load a default profile. If you can't log in, again you probably have faulty hardware screwing around with the procedures for logging. If anything should become "corrupt", something else is corrupting it.

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    , fanbaby wrote

    The registry, another excellently engineered idea that turned out to be idiotic.

    Text files, an old, inefficient idea that's just good enough(tm)

    It's a text file if you specifically write and interpret the data as text. How is not being a text file a disadvantage in any way? Any file can become corrupt unless some force beyond the file intervenes through the use of locks and transactions.

  • User profile image
    fanbaby

    , MasterPie wrote

    *snip*

    How is not being a text file a disadvantage in any way?

    Yes, exactly! In theory you're 100% right....

    Wink

  • User profile image
    PopeDai

    , MasterPie wrote

    What else constitutes a user profile besides your credentials/privileges and your user directory?

    Open your profile directory (with "Show all files and folders" enabled), you'll see a multi-megabyte file called NTUSER.DAT.

    That is your local registry hive, i.e. your HKEY_CURRENT_USER store. It's a binary file format that has largely remained unchanged since Windows 95 - it's compact, efficient, and fast - but it does not take well to corruption. (For the curious, this hive is stored under %windir%\system32\config in the extensionless files "software", "sam", and "system").

    Windows takes steps to protect the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE hive: it keeps a separate backup copy (this is loaded when you select "Last known good configuration" in the startup menu), however it does not do the same for local user profiles.

    The good news is that your NTUSER.DAT can largely be considered disposable - programs with complicated configuration files (like Photoshop and Visual Studio) store their configuration in files, not the registry. Not that I'd recommend needlessly nuking this file - but it can be easily rectified.

    Your NTUSER.DAT file does not contain your "user account" entry - that's stored in the SAM file.

  • User profile image
    Proton2

    This did happen to me once a few years ago. Possibly on Vista or Windows 7, and possibly on a pre-release version and possibly after an update, though I don't know for sure. Fortunately I had another account with admin privileges I could log into. I don't recall if I could fix it or if I just created a new account and recovered my userfolders the usuall way by moving the files to my new account.

     

  • User profile image
    Charles

    When this does happen, just log out of the temp user that's created for you (settings, data, etc.., don't persist, anyway - it's literally temporary), then log in to your account. No need to reinstall the operating system. Not an ideal answer, but this glitch was fixed a while ago, it seems.

    C

  • User profile image
    cheong

    @MasterPie:In my experience since Win2k (Corrupted profile happens a lot in Win9X, so I lost count on that), I only seen that 3 times. If you see this happens, you should be able to see event log tells you some program is holding your profile for too long while you log off. It's pity that Windows don't report the names of these programs.

    Btw, just as you said. By logging off and on again, the problem usually goes away.

    Recent Achievement unlocked: Code Avenger Tier 4/6: You see dead program. A lot!
    Last modified

Conversation locked

This conversation has been locked by the site admins. No new comments can be made.