What is a corrupt profile?
What happened? Yesterday when I shut down my computer it was fine, now
my Icons are missing, no taskbar, nothing at all, the desktop is empty!
Well, grasshopper, you have a corrupt profile.
What is a profile?
With Windows Operating Systems each user that is created by either logging on (if you have a network ID or when the Operating is first installed there is a script that runs to make one user id) a
directory (folder) is created with all the sub directories (folders) such as My Documents, Applications, etc, and then populated with the default shortcuts.
What happens is when the computer is shut down improperly open files get
damaged, that is parts of the files that are open gets deleted. (That is why you get a warning when you shutdown when a program is running the 'Open File Warning').
Then why doesn't the files for the OS like the drivers get corrupted? Because they are opened from what is called the
Driver Cache and not the system32 directory. If the driver is damaged then the OS will replace it from the system32 directory, however too many power offs will cause the system32 files to become
But your profile files are not 'refreshed' so eventually when the OS tries to load the files they fail to load. Thus the blank desktop.
Why MS doesn't have a warning about the corrupt files? Unknown.
How do you fix the corrupt profile?
You can't. You have to delete the profile and then log on with the id and the OS will rebuild the desktop.
Or you can restore the system drive from an image (you have to make an image first though).
If you don't have an image of the OS drive and have to delete the old profile I would suggest you copy your My Documents, Favorites, and Desktop directories to another place, such as a pen drive or a second drive in the computer, then you can put those items back when you log on with the new id.
Troubleshoot, repair, maintain, upgrade & secure...
Why copy those directories? Because when you delete the profile all the sub directories under the user ID in Documents and Settings/Users will be deleted. (If you use Outlook be sure to go to the Local Settings/Application Data/Microsoft/ and copy Outlook directory because your email files are there!)
How do you delete the profile now that you have copied your files?
Log on with a user id that has administrative rights but not the id that is
damaged, such as Administrator. (This is why you need to activate the
"Administrator" ID for Vista and newer Operating Systems, change the name of the
ID to something else, then set the password for the ID. No rights no repair...)
Right click on My Computer, select Properties from the menu. When the window opens select Advanced tab, then click on the Settings button in the User Profiles box. Highlight the
user ID, then select delete. Click ok on the warning box.
Log off and log on with the ID that was damaged, the desktop will rebuild.
Note: Vista and newer Windows Operating Systems disable the
Administrator ID! Thus unless your computer is in a domain normally you only have
one ACTIVE user ID. You need to activate the Administrator ID and set the
password. I recommend you change the name of the Administrator ID and set the
password with complexity. Otherwise when the profile becomes corrupt you will
need to install the Operating System once again...
Be aware that if you delete a profile all the files in the profile will be deleted, backup is a must for files you need!