As usual I left my computer running overnight. This morning I turned on the monitor to see a default Vista user account instead of my own profile. But the Start menu showed that it was logged in as my own account!

My Documents and all other profile folders were empty, but the files still existed under the C:/Users folder. I added a few basic icons (Firefox etc) to the desktop while searching Google for answers. One suggestion was to log out and back in. Doing this brought me back to the same default account settings--and the icons I had added were gone again.

I rebooted, and this time everything came up normally. My old profile was just as I left it, apparently none the worse for wear.

Checking uptime showed that it the PC had rebooted at 5:40am. I was on my way to work, so didn't take the time to check the event log to see why. Will check that and edit that in later.

Has anyone else seen this behaviour before?

Or know what caused it?

Is it likely to happen again?

Am I in danger of losing data?


The computer restarted for some reason. And when it logged in again Windows detected that your profile was damage and used a temporary profile instead. This can happen, I'm not sure why. But as long as you got the right profile after a reboot there should not be any problem. Maybe someone else has a more detailed explanation.


Yup I've seen this before, as well as people I work with. Your profile or one of it's file's might be corrupt. You can tell your PC to scan and fix disk error by entering this command into the commandline:

chkdsk c: /F

The scan will start when you reboot. Even without disk errors, files can still corrupt via other means, anything from applications not closing file handles, to malicious trojans.

If this keeps happening, consider using your OS disc to repair your installation.

  • CHKDSK /f (well, the GUI equivalent) was the first thing I did after logging back in. No issues were found. What's odd is that without changing anything in the original profile, a second reboot was able to load it without any errors. – ryandenki Nov 16 '09 at 8:50
  • If this happens again randomly, suspect a faulty RAM module. Do some memory tests, and swap the modules out if you can. It seems to load fine now, so you could maybe rule out corrupt files. – invert Nov 16 '09 at 14:29
  • Yeah, I'm not convinced that the files were all good--there could have been a bad sector which the disk managed to read and relocate the next time through. So I wouldn't see any trouble now, but there could be trouble brewing on disk. – ryandenki Nov 17 '09 at 9:06
  • This happens to me on XP quite often now. However, my chkdsk found some problems, so this may be the reason in my case. – maaartinus Apr 6 '11 at 22:33

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