I had the same image on my Win10 Enterprise work laptop forever (version 1909, Build 18363.657). I got fed up with it, so I researched about where these images are located, then proceed to delete any/all images and data found. This did remove the stuck image...but now I just have nothing for the lock screen, which is worse! Now, no matter what I choose (Picture, Slideshow, or Windows Spotlight) no image gets displayed on the lock screen. Perhaps worth noting that the "Spotlight" info does still get displayed. For example, "What small mountain town is this?"

I've been in IT for a decade and more than half of that was Desktop Support and/or Win SysAdmin work. Point is, I'm very much more than capable, but this problem is still eluding me. I've tried everything I've found online, most recently with this SU post, but nothing has worked.

Update 1: I ran a chkdsk /f /r and rebooted. It says it's "Fixing (C:) Stage 4: 10%..." so hopefully this resolves the issue.

Update 2: Negative, the chkdsk did not fix the issue. I also ran DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth - it finished and found nothing.

Update 3: The "preview" image shown in Settings -> Personalization -> Lock screen -> Preview: background (Windows Spotlight) is changing! Something between the setting and what makes the image actually appear on the lock screen is broken.

Update 4: I was hopeful that this registry key might fix the issue: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\System\DisableLogonBackgroundImage -> DWORD key with a value of “0” - however, it has not. Worth noting, the key was not present on the machine, so I tried manually creating it and rebooting, but there's no change. Perhaps flipping the equivalent setting in the local Group Policy might work...?

Final update - FIXED.....it seemed fixed for most of today, but no. The issue has returned!

C:\WINDOWS\system32>SFC /Scannow

Beginning system scan.  This process will take some time.

Beginning verification phase of system scan.
Verification 100% complete.

Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them.
For online repairs, details are included in the CBS log file located at
windir\Logs\CBS\CBS.log. For example C:\Windows\Logs\CBS\CBS.log. For offline
repairs, details are included in the log file provided by the /OFFLOGFILE flag.

Update 5: - I have found the issue! Permissions on this folder were broken/incorrect: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\SystemData Re-adding SYSTEM with full-permissions looks to have fixed the issue! :)

  • My spotlight was broken for 2-3 years, it was definitely this folder causing the issue: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\SystemData, Thank you so much. – chongo2002 Feb 4 at 18:56

To first check for Windows corruption, do the following:

  • In Settings > Privacy > Background apps, Microsoft Edge should be turned On
  • Run sfc /scannow
  • Create a new user account and check if the problem exists in it. If not, there is a profile corruption. You will need to transfer all your personal stuff to the new account and work with it, as finding the cause of such corruption is extremely hard.

If no corruption was found, the list below contains the known fixes to Spotlight. If none of them works for you, then Windows is corrupted and will require Repair Install with an In-place Upgrade.

Method 1

  1. In Start > Personalization >Lock Screen, change Background to Picture, but do not exit Settings
  2. Delete everything inside the folder %LocalAppData%\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalState\Assets (but not the folder itself)
  3. Open in Explorer the folder %LocalAppData%\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy\Settings
  4. Inside the folder, rename the files settings.dat and roaming.lock to settings.dat.bak and roaming.lock.bak
  5. Reboot
  6. In Start > Personalization >Lock Screen, change Background back to Windows Spotlight

Method 2

This is a stronger version of the first method.

  1. In Start > Personalization >Lock Screen, change Background to Picture, but do not exit Settings
  2. Delete everything from inside the folder %LocalAppData%\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy (take backup)
  3. In Lock Screen settings, change Background back to Windows Spotlight
  4. Reboot

Method 3 : Using PowerShell

  1. In Start > Personalization >Lock Screen, change Background to Picture
  2. Run PowerShell as administrator

  3. Type the following command :

    Get-AppxPackage -allusers *ContentDeliveryManager* | foreach {Add-AppxPackage "$($_.InstallLocation)\appxmanifest.xml" -DisableDevelopmentMode -register }
  4. Reboot

  5. In Start > Personalization >Lock Screen, change Background back to Windows Spotlight

  • Nothing in %LocalAppData% is related to this issue, at least not specifically. The reason for this is that %LocalAppData% is user-profile specific, but this issue is not - is at the OS level. The issue persists with any user, even a newly created one. – SamAndrew81 Mar 5 '20 at 1:18
  • I notice that certain UWP apps like Weather and Snip & Sketch crash as soon as I try to open them as well. Could that have anything to do with this? – SamAndrew81 Mar 5 '20 at 5:24
  • 1
    Yes, it would indicate a larger corruption than just Spotlight. I think only a Repair Install is left for getting everything back to a known state. I especially didn't like that chkdsk and sfc each found some issues. I hope that the problem(s) wouldn't require stronger methods than Repair Install. – harrymc Mar 5 '20 at 9:12
  • I've confirmed that your above fix works, but only to get the first Spotlight image back. Once Spotlight tries to go to the next image, it gets broken and the lock screen is blank again. – SamAndrew81 Mar 6 '20 at 16:43
  • One more: Check if in Settings > Privacy > Background apps, that Microsoft Edge is turned On. – harrymc Mar 6 '20 at 17:12

I have found the issue! Permissions on this folder were broken/incorrect (this was my fault because this is where I deleted the stuck image from): C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\SystemData

Manually deleting all the corrupted sub-folders under the SystemData folder, then re-adding SYSTEM with full-permissions on the SystemData folder. This allowed the lock screen images (single image, slideshow, or Spotlight) to again function normally. If you have this issue you may need to also perform the steps @HarryMC listed above.

  • @PimpJuiceIT: There is no way for a poster to get his bounty back fully or partly. The only way is if a moderator cancelled the bounty and refunded it, but they do so only when they close the post. There is no chance that they will close this one. In my experience, in the couple of cases that I flagged and suggested refunding the poster, I was refused. – harrymc Mar 8 '20 at 8:03
  • 1
    @harrymc, thanks again for the help, but I won't be awarding the bounty since an exact fix was what I was after. – SamAndrew81 Mar 8 '20 at 22:57
  • My understanding of what you wrote above is that the blank screen problem was caused by you trafficking with the permissions and content of this folder while trying to fix an existing problem. The main problem was fixed by my answer, but the changes you made prevented full functioning and had to be undone. – harrymc Mar 10 '20 at 7:20

@SamAndrew81 have you entertained the idea a local (gpedit.msc) or domain GPO (rsop) is setting a specific image or blank/black one? This would jive with your comments about how a 'fix' only survived a day or so.

Related registry: HKCU\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\CloudContent

Related registry: HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Personalization!LockScreenImage

Some additional links:

  • Good thought, but no, it's not Group Policy. All of my coworkers have random images that are generated from Spotlight - I'm the only one with this issue TMK. – SamAndrew81 Mar 5 '20 at 0:04

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