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I'm helping a friend with their Lenovo laptop running WinXP, SP3. We had done some updates, ran Microsoft Security Essentials, and cleaned off something called arcaadewebfirefox.dll that I thought wasn't too terrible. later that evening they rebooted and all desktop icons were gone, firefox was back to default profile, etc. at the same they they received a couple calls from those scammers posing as microsoft and offering to fix the computer. I didn't think it was related but they are convinced the computer was hacked.

I've determined all the current problems are due to the fact that they are logging into a different user profile called USERNAME.COMPUTERNAME, where before everything was just under USERNAME.

For example, the desktop icons being used are at:

C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME.COMPUTERNAME\Desktop

instead of

C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Desktop

where I see all their previous icons where they should be, but not being accessed.

Similarly, the Firefox profile being used is here:

C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME.COMPUTERNAME\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\qkqvn5s1.default

instead of:

C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\sjdi38dj.default

How could this have happened, and what is recommended to get things back the way they were? Thanks!

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The best way would be to create a new user, transfer the user file and firefox profile, then delete the previous user's profile directory. I would actually just install Windows XP since the installation clearly has been made corrupt in some manner. – Ramhound Jul 22 '13 at 17:27

Classic case of a corrupted profile. Many ways it could have happened. If you don't want to delete the profile reg key, you can try changing the ProfilePath Value of the

HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current Version\Profile List\<SID of User>

Key back to the original folder, but be forewarned that in my experience this rarely works. Instead it's best to delete the entire SID, backup/delete the profile folders, and reboot the machine. When the user logs back on they'll get a fresh profile, and you can manually copy the data that's needed back to the 'new' profile folder.

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So it appears they already do have a fresh profile, the one named 'USERNAME.COMPUTERNAME' -- is this a standard Windows convention that would have created this automatically? Can I just copy the files into this one and be on my way? – jacobsee Jul 22 '13 at 18:42
yep, what happens is when the default profile folder already exists, it will create one with that name, and if that one exists it will create USERNAME.COMPUTERNAME2 & USERNAME.COMPUTERNAME3 etc. For some reason Windows thought the old folder was corrupted and gave you a new one. You can indeed copy the files into that folder if you don't care about the name. After all, a rose is still a rose. – BigHomie Jul 22 '13 at 19:34
thank you for the info. I searched the Application and System event logs and didn't see anything...I would think if Windows was creating a new profile folder it would log it somewhere. Do you know if this is logged. I have a rough idea when it happened but didn't see anything. – jacobsee Jul 23 '13 at 19:45
I don't know about xp, but vista+ may log an entry along the lines of 'user profile service crashed' or similar, that's one indicator. It really depends on the nature of why it created a new profile to being with. – BigHomie Jul 23 '13 at 20:30

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