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Vista User Profile Disappears [BIG Problem]
May 23, 2008 | ML/NJ

Posted on 05/23/2008 10:02:03 AM PDT by ml/nj

I suggest Vista users pay attention.

From time to time I help neighbors with their computer problems, and sometimes they have MS Vista systems. I have, so far, avoided Vista myself mostly because I see no reason to abandon XP and because of the bad press Vista has received. I have, or have had, a generally favorable impression of Microsoft; and my first instinct has been to blame the bad press on user ineptitude and/or extreme corner cases.

BUT ...

I got a call several weeks ago from a woman who couldn't log on to her system. She got a message like, "The User Profile Service failed the logon. User profile cannot be loaded." I didn't actually know what the message was until I got there myself. This woman is an unsophisticated, minimalist user of her system, and her telephone description of the problem was also minimalist. The system is a Vista system. She was the only user account shown on the startup screen. I couldn't log on either.

Maybe I tried some other stuff, but I eventually discovered I could boot up in Safe Mode, and in Safe Mode I could log on to her account, or something that seemed like her account. I forget now exactly what I did but I was able to create a new user account for her and then boot Vista normally and log on to the account.

When I got home I did some searching on the internet; and I found out that this woman was hardly alone. There was information about how to retrieve the old user profile which Vista had renamed to a .bak. I called to let her know that I could do try this for her if she wanted me to.

Last week she called again to let me know that she couldn't find some file or other and I told her that I would be passing by her home and I would stop by and find her file.

I couldn't find it either. ALL OF THE FILES IN HER "MY DOCUMENTS" FOLDER WERE GONE ALONG WITH THE OLD USER PROFILE. I said I would find those instructions for restoring the old profile and come back at some mutually convenient time.

Today was the day. I turned on her computer and BOOM, I couldn't log on again. The new user I had created for her had disappeared too. And unfortunately that new user was her name just like the original one. So now when I went to retrieve the renamed profile I was retrieving the intermediate one. Her original was gone because when Vista renamed the second profile it renamed it to the same name as the original backup.

Maybe you followed this. Maybe you didn't. The bottom line is that Microsoft has either a BS explanation for why this happens or they admit they haven't a clue. This has to be a very common thing if it has happened twice in the past month to someone who basically uses her computer as an email machine. IT IS OBSCENE THAT MICROSOFT IS ALLOWING THIS PROBLEM TO PERSIST WITHOUT RECALLING VISTA ALTOGETHER.

My advice to anyone using Vista is to make sure that you do not store anything in any folder that is associated with your username such as the "My Documents" folder or your "Desktop." I also recommend that you find and print the instructions for modifying the Registry to retrieve the mysteriously renamed profile.

My advice to anyone not using Vista is STICK TO XP.

ML/NJ


TOPICS: Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: microsoft; profile; vista

1 posted on 05/23/2008 10:02:04 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: ml/nj

Are you sure it’s not reoccurring spyware that’s causing this?


2 posted on 05/23/2008 10:09:24 AM PDT by library user
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To: ml/nj

Based on what I’ve heard about Vista, if even one quarter of it is true, I don’t want to touch it. Gonna stay with XP for as long as possible.


3 posted on 05/23/2008 10:12:15 AM PDT by floozy22
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To: ml/nj

George W. Bush’s fault.


4 posted on 05/23/2008 10:13:52 AM PDT by WayneS (And now I shall return to my hovel and cling to my guns - but only until it is time to go to Church)
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To: library user
Are you sure it’s not reoccurring spyware that’s causing this?

I'm not sure of anything. It could be due to some sort of spyware, but I doubt it. The woman is a very light user of the internet due to her dialup connection. If it were spyware, Microsoft would have identified the cause pretty quickly, but they haven't, so far as I am aware.

ML/NJ

5 posted on 05/23/2008 10:18:24 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: ml/nj

My dad had a very similar problem in XP and it was a virus.


6 posted on 05/23/2008 10:21:34 AM PDT by Behind Liberal Lines
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To: Behind Liberal Lines

That would be a good starting point. What kind of virus scanner does she have, and what kind of bootable recovery utility do they have.


7 posted on 05/23/2008 10:25:14 AM PDT by js1138
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To: ml/nj

I’ve had far more problems in my experience with XP than I’ve ever had with Vista. In fact the only problems I’ve actually had involving Vista were with 3rd party companies not upgrading their products.


8 posted on 05/23/2008 10:37:53 AM PDT by Kirkwood (Ask me again tomorrow.)
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To: ml/nj
A virus doesn't care whether the connection is dial-up or high-speed. The reason why I mentioned spyware is because I frequent both the Geeks To Go and Bleeping Computer forums and remember a trojan/rootkit going around which renames (sometimes critical) files and creates BAKs of them.

Try running Norman Malware Cleaner in Safe Mode.

If that doesn't do the trick, here's option two:

Please download ATF Cleaner by Atribune & save it to your desktop. DO NOT use yet.
Please download and install SUPERAntiSpyware Free

Reboot your computer in "Safe Mode" using the F8 method. To do this, restart your computer and after hearing your computer beep once during startup (but before the Windows icon appears) press the F8 key repeatedly. A menu will appear with several options. Use the arrow keys to navigate and select the option to run Windows in "Safe Mode".

Double-click ATF-Cleaner.exe to run the program.Note: On Vista, "Windows Temp" is disabled. To empty "Windows Temp" ATF-Cleaner must be "Run as an Administrator".

Scan with SUPERAntiSpyware as follows:

Language lifted from Bleeping Computer forum.

9 posted on 05/23/2008 10:39:31 AM PDT by library user
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To: library user
A virus doesn't care whether the connection is dial-up or high-speed.

Gee, thanks for the education Sherlock.

The reason dialup matters is that it limits the number of websites one can visit, it limits the amount of stuff that can be transferred to a computer, and the lifetime of the IP address is limited to the duration of the phone call. If you don't understand, try one of those "For Dummies," books.

BTW Spyware and Viruses are distinctly different animals.

I've read dozens of usenet threads about this and consulted Microsoft's posted information. Somehow all have missed attributing this to malware. I think I'll skip Geeks to Go.

ML/NJ

10 posted on 05/23/2008 10:58:19 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: ml/nj

It sounds viral.


11 posted on 05/23/2008 11:00:51 AM PDT by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: ml/nj

I try to help and you’re a jerk about it.

Nice.


12 posted on 05/23/2008 11:03:11 AM PDT by library user
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To: ml/nj
The reason dialup matters is that it limits the number of websites one can visit, it limits the amount of stuff that can be transferred to a computer

She could have inadvertently downloaded and installed a file less than 500KB which is causing the problem. That's why I said to think a virus is less likely due to dial-up didn't make much sense.

13 posted on 05/23/2008 11:05:12 AM PDT by library user
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To: ml/nj

Also, so far, four other folks on this thread, not including myself, have suggested this sounds more thirty-party, virus related.


14 posted on 05/23/2008 11:07:02 AM PDT by library user
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To: ml/nj

Also a prime example of why it is necessary to backup (make copies of) any data you cannot afford to lose on a source external to your computer (CD, DVD, external hard drive, flash drive, tape etc.) and then test the backup to make sure everything works. Then make a second copy to another source just in case (backup your backup).


15 posted on 05/23/2008 11:07:55 AM PDT by Kolb
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To: ml/nj

All the fuss and you still have not provided a concise solution. By the way, the answer to this easily fixed issue is the same as most other problems. Google is your friend!


16 posted on 05/23/2008 11:16:24 AM PDT by JHosprey
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To: library user

I had a friend who had this exact problem with XP, believe it or not. It turns out that his user profile just got randomly corrupted by XP, perhaps because of a hard power-off during a lockup or something, and poof, the “my documents” directory and everything in it was gone. I also started to experience this problem when my hard drive began failing on my XP laptop. Luckily I was able to log onto to the guest profile and shuffle most of my files off before it bought the farm for good. My advice is to keep all your important documents in a subfolder of the root directory, rather than trust the “my documents” folder since it’s dependent on the user profile.


17 posted on 05/23/2008 11:32:53 AM PDT by messierhunter
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To: library user
I try to help and you’re a jerk about it.

Look. The fact is that you don't know what you're talking about, and you are offering advice anyway to someone whose business is computers.

ML/NJ

18 posted on 05/23/2008 11:39:26 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: ml/nj
you are offering advice anyway to someone whose business is computers.

Well and good, but the fellow has a point: there is no need to be a jerk because you're "someone whose business is computers."

A polite (and silent) decision to not respond would have had the same effect, and you wouldn't have come out second-best in the exchange.

19 posted on 05/23/2008 11:47:35 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: JHosprey
All the fuss and you still have not provided a concise solution. By the way, the answer to this easily fixed issue is the same as most other problems.

The solution seems to be not to use Vista.

If you know how to "easily fix" this, as opposed to repairing it each time it happens, I would appreciate you're letting me know too. And if you know how to get back the really original profile and files attached to it I would appreciate that even more.

As for Goolge, it's good; but Google/Groups is better.

ML/NJ

20 posted on 05/23/2008 11:49:22 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: r9etb
Sorry. People who pretend to be knowledgeable annoy me.

ML/NJ

21 posted on 05/23/2008 11:51:34 AM PDT by ml/nj
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To: library user

People get kind of testy when they feel you have insulted their intelligence.

I know how annoyed I get when someone is giving me advice when the subject is outside their area of competence and inside mine. I’ve also had people justifiably annoyed with me for being the incompetent advise giver. The best thing to do at that point is acknowledge they know what they are talking about and thank them for the education.


22 posted on 05/23/2008 1:34:54 PM PDT by Flying Circus
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

To: messierhunter

This was good advice especially on Windows 98. Clearing out the My Documents folder also sped up performance.


24 posted on 05/23/2008 7:20:25 PM PDT by Hillarys Gate Cult (The man who said "there's no such thing as a stupid question" has never talked to Helen Thomas.)
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To: messierhunter
I had a friend who had this exact problem with XP, believe it or not. It turns out that his user profile just got randomly corrupted by XP

There's a known problem where the registry was unable to be unloaded while the user is logging out, so Windows had to "force" the unload, and this would occasionally corrupt the profile. There's a fix for Windows 2000, XP, and Server 2003, the "User Profile Hive Cleaner". The problem usually presents itself (before corrupting the profile) as extremely slow logouts, and if you check the system event log, you'll see messages that the registry hive was unable to unload. I wonder if there's a similar problem with Vista, but then the UPHC isn't set up to work with Vista.

Mark

25 posted on 05/23/2008 9:16:45 PM PDT by MarkL
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To: ml/nj

I am so happy my family has gone 100% Mac and will never again have to deal with this crap. My mom has been using an iMac for her e-mail and Internet surfing for seven years now, without one single hiccup in all that time.


26 posted on 05/23/2008 9:19:22 PM PDT by ccmay (Too much Law; not enough Order.)
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To: ml/nj

You might want to check out this blog on the beta version of UPHClean (User Profile Hive Cleaner):

http://blogs.technet.com/uphclean

the problem sounds like the same sort of problem that was often fixed by UPHC. This problem has been around nearly as long as Windows 2000! However, according to the blog, UPHClean functionality was built into Vista natively.

Though I mentioned it in another post, one of the causes of corrupted user profiles is something keeping the user hive of the registry from unloading cleanly - something is still accessing it - so Windows has to force it closed when you logout. This presents itself by very long times to logout - I’ve seen as long as 3 minutes on Windows 2000. The current version of UPHC (1.6, I think) is for Win2K, XP, and Server 2003. When the hive becomes corrupted, Windows is forced to create a new user profile, with all new user settings (the user hive of the registry).

Anyway, here’s a link to the current version of UPHClean, although it won’t work on Vista - The latest beta (refer to the blog, above) might:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=1B286E6D-8912-4E18-B570-42470E2F3582&displaylang=en

Mark


27 posted on 05/23/2008 9:27:51 PM PDT by MarkL
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To: MarkL
Thanks for your insight and suggestions.

ML/NJ

28 posted on 05/24/2008 4:50:43 AM PDT by ml/nj
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