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It’s been a long day at work, and you’re ready to wake that computer up from its sleep and browse the latest Steam sale until you’ve spent every penny in your wallet. You’ve got your Taco Bell, your blankie, and the comfiest seat in your house.
You type in your password for your account (because you’re a security-conscious gamer)…only to find the most heart stopping error of them all: “User Profile Cannot Be Loaded.”
You stare at your computer screen. The only option is to click “OK,” so you do, and you attempt to log on again, only to find the same error.
The blankie is thrown to the floor as you howl to the gods, asking why they’ve cursed you so.
But don’t worry! I’ve got the answers for you, whether you’re using Windows 7 or 10. Swaddle yourself back up, because we’re about to delve into how to solve this sign-in failure together.
“Why Did This Happen? Why Me, Jarett?! WHY?!”
First thing’s first, this error probably isn’t happening because of something you intentionally did (however, there are exceptions to this rule that we will cover shortly). These things happen from time to time, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it.
For Windows 7, the two most common reasons Microsoft gives for encountering “User Profile Cannot Be Loaded” are that the option to not log on users with temporary profiles is activated, or because your user profile was deleted manually, leaving the security identifier (SID) behind.
The case for Windows 10 is a bit different. Techbout states that the two most common reasons are a corrupted account from upgrading to Windows 10 from an older Windows operating system…or because your antivirus software is running a scan while you’re attempting to log on. Random, I know.
No matter if your computer is busy cleaning out malware or if you manually deleted an account, we’ve got the ways to fix your issue and get you back into Steam in no time at all! The solution is the same for both Windows 7 and 10, so strap in and prepare to access your computer’s registry!
I Can’t Wait Any Longer, Help Me Out Here!
First thing’s first: turn your computer off and back on again. Bet you saw that one coming a mile away, huh? Even though it can sound silly and useless at times, computers do get a bit wonky here and there and resetting everything might just be the fix it needs to get back into working order. So go ahead and turn off your computer and unplug it from its power source, wait a couple of minutes (maybe take some calming breaths while you do), and then plug everything back in and turn it back on.
If you can successfully log on, then congratulations! You just avoided spending your evening troubleshooting. However, if you’re still having issues logging on, have no fear. I’ve got ways to solve your problem below.
Option 1: Fix Your User Account Profile
First thing’s first, log onto another account or create one to access your computer. Once at your desktop, click “Start” and then type “regedit” without the quotation marks into the search bar, then press “enter” on your keyboard. Your computer might ask you if it’s okay for regedit to make changes to your computer; select yes, then the application should show up.
On the left hand panel, find the folder titled “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList” and click on it.
Once there, locate the file with S-1-5 followed by a long number. If there are multiples of these, click each one, locate the ProfileImagePath section in the details, and double click on it to see if it is the correct account experiencing log on errors.
Now go back into the folder that had the SID followed by the long number. Do you have two folders with the same name, one followed by .bak? Well, we’re going to have to rename that file. So right-click on the folder without .bak in the name, select “rename”, and enter .ba, then press “enter”.
Next, right click the file with .bak, select rename, and remove .bak, then press “enter”.
Last, we’re going to right-click on the .ba folder, select rename, and change it to .bak, then press “enter” one more time.
We’ve only got a little ways left to go! Select the folder without .bak at the end of the name, double click Refcount in the details pane, and enter “0” in the value data box, then press “OK”. Then select the same folder without .bak, double click state, and enter “0” in that value data box as well, and press “OK”.
Finally, close your registry editor, restart the computer, and log on with your intended account.
Option 2: Delete the SID Profile and Create A New One
This is a little more drastic than the other option, but it will certainly help you access your account- it’ll just be a new account.
Click, “Start”, right-click “Computer”, then select “Properties.” Once on the properties page, select “Change Settings” on the right side of the screen.
Locate the “System Properties” box and select “Advanced” on the tabs at the top. In the “User Profiles” area, select “Settings,” then locate the profile you want to delete and select “Delete”, then “OK”.
Now navigate back to the registry using the steps shown in option one. Locate and click on the following subkey: “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList”. Once there, right-click the SID you want to delete, and select “Delete”.
Now, create a new profile.
Option 3: Keep Your Data And Copy It To A New Profile
This sounds like the simplest answer here, and…well, you’d probably be right. However, simplicity is subjective, so don’t get lazy on me here! Registry edits aren’t needed, but you should still be careful, or you might lose all the data you’re trying to save.
Log into an account with Admin privileges. Next, locate that C: drive again and find the “Users” folder. You’ll want to make sure you can see hidden files for these next few steps, so locate the “view” tab in the explorer and make sure to check off “file name extensions” and “hidden items”.
Find the “Default” folder, right-click on it, and rename it to “Default.old”. Whatever you do, don’t delete this folder! It serves as your backup in case something goes horribly wrong during this process.
Now create a new folder named “Default”, and inside it, fill it with folders with these names: C:\Users\Default\Desktop, C:\Users\Default\Documents, C:\Users\Default\Downloads, and C:\Users\Default\Pictures. This is the same setup as the old default folder.
Next, locate your admin account or an account that isn’t corrupted and copy the file “NTUSER.DAT”, then paste it into your new Default folder.
You should now be able to log onto your user profiles and create new ones without encountering any errors with loading profiles.
So you’ve made it to the end of the article, huh? Well good for you! I hope you found an answer to your problem with loading a user profile, and I wish you the best of luck in finding those sweet Steam deals! Cuddle up in your blankie and play the night away!
Still stuck with an account that you can’t access? Don’t want to start all over and create a new profile? Don’t worry, I’ve got some last-ditch effort options that might be able to point you in the right direction.
No matter if you’ve solved your problem or not, I hope you’ve enjoyed my article! If you have more error code issues, check out my profile on Error Codes Pro– I’ve got quite a bit of errors solved that just might be what you’ve been looking for! Also, don’t forget to utilize our search bar in the top right corner to look for other errors I might not have personally covered. Whether it’s an issue with your hard disk, an “unspecified error” that’s driving you crazy, or any number of Windows error codes, Error Codes Pro has the answer for you. Thanks for reading!
Pro Tips Galore:
- Don’t be afraid to contact Windows and see if they have any other options for you to get your account back in working order. Sometimes our problems are slightly different from the norm, and therefore might be solvable in a way you’ve never seen before. Plus, like I always say, the more information on crashes and errors a company has, the better they can solve problems in the future!
- Get yourself a new anti-virus software, or at the very least only run scheduled scans as to avoid this in the future. Of course, this only works if your issue was with your computer running a scan in the first place.
- If it’s currently running a scan, a simple answer might be to let the scan finish before attempting to log on again or make a dramatic change to your system’s registry. Patience is a virtue…but Steam sales can make it run thin!
- If you just have no idea what to do, contact a local repair shop- they might be able to help you in a timely manner and get your computer back to working order.
Ryan is a computer enthusiast who has a knack for fixing difficult and technical software problems. Whether you’re having issues with Windows, Safari, Chrome or even an HP printer, Ryan helps out by figuring out easy solutions to common error codes.