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How to Recover Data From a Corrupt Windows Profile

Your Windows user profile is what you use to log in to your computer. If you’re the only person using the computer, you might not think too much about it. In fact, you may not even realise that it’s possible to have multiple user accounts using the same computer. However, your system administrator will be running all your profiles from the same network.

Whatever your situation, Windows user profiles store your data and your personalised settings. The reason for this is that it separates the information from other accounts on the same system. This ensures that the user experience is simplified, that users can customise without impacting others, and to keep data private and inaccessible to others.

Of course, as with any type of data, a Windows user profile is susceptible to corruption. In fact, you interact with the data in your Windows user profile all the time, even if you don’t realise it. The act of logging in and out is touching the data.

It’s not uncommon for a Windows user profile to get corrupted. The levels of corruption can vary. For example, sometimes users will still be able to access their profile and their data. However, partly because some parts of the profile touch the registry, it is possible for huge data corruption – locking a user out of not only their profile, but also their data too.

If this has happened to you, don’t panic. Your data isn’t necessarily lost forever. A lot of the time, your data is actually moved into a hidden directory. Let’s look at how to access that.

First, reboot the system in order to log out of all accounts. You don’t want any of your profile data to be stored in resident memory, so a reboot solves this. Next, log in to the system using the admin account. If you’re not sure how to do this, contact your system admin to follow these steps.

Go to Control Panel > File Explorer Options. Switch to the View tab and select ‘Show hidden files, folders, and drivers’. Then scroll down and unselect ‘Hide protected operating system files’. Click OK to save. This change has now made hidden system files visible to you.

Search the root drive for ‘Found.000’. If multiple user accounts are affected, the numerical suffix may vary. Once found, enter these folders and you should see the contents of their user profile. This includes common directories like Photos and Documents, along with any custom ones. Move these folders and files over to a separate drive or cloud storage. Don’t simply move the files within the same drive.

Once you’ve grabbed all the data, go to Control Panel > System > Advanced System Settings. Switch to the Advanced tab and click the Settings button beneath User Profiles. Here you will be able to delete the user profile that is corrupted. This will remove the link of the profile to the registry. Once done, reboot the system.

Now, log in to your account and this will create a brand new Windows user profile. Move across all your files and folders from the backup drive. You may need to manually rebuild some customisation settings, like your wallpaper.

If you don’t have any luck with the above process, try using data recovery software to scan the entire system for your files. Remember, though, you should always be using backup software in the first place to try and avoid getting into situations like this.


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