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I have deleted a user, but I was never prompted if I wanted to delete the home folder for this user. Now, when I try to delete the folder as another user in the administrator group, I get a message that I need permission from some ID string.

How can I delete this user's home folder?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted
  • In Control Panel > System click Advanced system settings.
  • In the User Profiles group click Settings....
  • Select the entry labeled Account Unknown.
  • Click Delete.

You can directly load the User Profiles dialog by running the following command:

rundll32 sysdm.cpl,EditUserProfiles
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That worked - thanks :) – Joda Sep 22 '12 at 7:38

You need to take ownership of the folder and it's contents, and then delete it. If you right click on the user folder and go to the security settings, and then click advanced, you should see an 'Owner' tab. Selecting that will display the current owner as the GUID (random ID string) of the deleted user, and other accounts which can take ownership of the folder. Click the "Edit" button and select your user account, check 'Repalce owner on subcontainers and objects", and then click apply. Once it is done, you should be able to delete the folder normally.

You could also try launching windows explorer as an administrator (Task Manager -> Show All Processes -> File, New Task (It should warn that the process will be created with administrative privileges), and then run explorer.exe. This should open a new explorer window running with full privileges. Be very, very careful. Try deleting the user folder with the Admin'd Explorer window. Close it immediately afterwards - it will let you mess up your system very quickly, and you don't want to accidentally use it.

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Only do this as a last resort, because it will leave references to the profile folder in the registry, which may cause trouble later on. – Ansgar Wiechers Sep 21 '12 at 17:45
@AnsgarWiechers I'm pretty sure this is the only resort if it's saying they're owned by the GUID and not the username. Now, Joda might need to run a registry cleaner afterwards (Spybot S&D's registry checker has always been my go-to tool), but if he's already deleted the user, then I doubt there will be an easy way to automatically clean up all those references with Windows. – Darth Android Sep 21 '12 at 18:37
Sorry to have to say so, but you're wrong. I already described the correct method in my answer. See the documentation if you don't believe me. – Ansgar Wiechers Sep 21 '12 at 18:49
@AnsgarWiechers ... Thanks for teaching me something new today. :) – Darth Android Sep 21 '12 at 18:57

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