My problem is: I have an user on my laptop named alfa. That is the administrator profile.

Well, about a few days ago I "lost" everything. Somehow windows redirected user prefences to


. But my user data is here:


How can I redirect it to the default, where my user data is. I have already redirected the documents, desktop, etc... But there may something like appdata and you know I want to get my background back and my old startmenu, etc.

How can i do it?

  • This happened on my Vista Laptop and my Win7 desktop. Microsoft screwed up something or there is a nasty malware/virus out there
    – JPM
    Apr 22, 2015 at 15:53
  • I had the same problem. None of the suggestions here helped. I ended up doing system restore to earlier date and that solved it. Oct 11, 2015 at 13:55

7 Answers 7



Log into the system with local administrative rights, open RegEdit, and go to:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

You will see SID on the left pane and when you select each SID, you will see the profile path for each user that has logged into the system.

Find the profile with the string value ProfileImagePath containing path to


and change it back to


Be sure not to change the system account (should be the first key on the list).

  • 4
    There is only one with "System32\config\systemprofile" there. And I found the c:\users\alfa record too. It seems the registry key is fine, but than what is wrong? Jan 21, 2014 at 11:19
  • 1
    go to Computer Management (or run compmgmt.msc by pressing windows key + r) -> Local Users and Groups -> Users -> right click "alfa" -> Properties -> "Member Of" tab to see what groups you belong to. Also check the Profile tab to see if there is any irregularity.
    – Pui Ho Lam
    Jan 21, 2014 at 13:19
  • Not sure what happened but I have now seen this on a Vista computer of mine and my dads windows 7. Is this due to a virus or a windows update that screwed up the users.
    – JPM
    Apr 22, 2015 at 15:43
  • @PuiHoLam Should the Profile tab be blank?
    – endolith
    Nov 8, 2015 at 3:22

In my case, besides 3 system profiles in HKLM\software\microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\.

I found two user profiles with identical names, but one of them with ".bak" in the end. i.e. S-1-5-21-12345-54321-1000 and S-1-5-21-12345-54321-1000.bak.

What I did:

  1. Identify which "ProfileImagePath" was the right one: the first one was "C:\Users\TEMP" (TEMP is the name of temporary created user which was deleted some time ago) and the second one was the right one
  2. I renamed the first one (without .bak) in "S-1-5-21-12345-54321-1000.old", and deleted ".bak" from the name of the second one
  3. I rebooted and it worked
  • 1
    Welcome to SuperUser! Thank you for posting your answer -- it's a bit hard to read, though; perhaps consider breaking it up into a bulleted list, or similar. Instructions for Markdown formatting on the site can be found here.
    – hBy2Py
    Jun 10, 2015 at 18:17
  • Awesome answer! @hBy2Py I have improved readibility of the answer. Jan 17, 2017 at 8:44
  • This is a brilliant answer, worked perfectly for me. Thank you! Nov 13, 2018 at 6:25

This happened to me after an update. Found 2 problems which resolved it when fixed.

The first problem was related to Vortexo's answer. The value was slightly different.

Second problem was under Environment Variables. Processor Architecture was set to amd but my processor is intel. processor architecture enumeration

To view environment variables press 'windows key' + 'pause" to bring up system information, then go to advanced system settings, then on advanced tab, environment variables is at the bottom.

Fixed it for me, hope it helps someone else.

  • 4
    AMD64 is the correct value for all 64 bit PC processors. There is no value for Intel made CPUs. The IA64 setting is for Itanium processors (no one has them in a PC). Oct 11, 2015 at 12:40

The answer may be that the Explorer is running as system. Run Task manager and verify if you have two explorer.exe running. If you do, one will be for your original profile and the other for system.

End Task both processes and Start a New Task = explorer.exe. This should show your original desktop, but you will need to reboot for all settings to take affect. Now, if you reboot and the issue repeats itself, do the process over and then open regedit and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon and change the value for Userinit to C:\Windows\System32\userinit.exe, then reboot. The value that may be there is C:\Windows\System32\KUsrInit.exe. Hope this helps.

  • 1
    That's weird. I only have one explorer.exe, with my username attached. If i kill it and start explorer again, i still have the systemprofile desktop. But if i click "Show processes from all users" and then kill explorer and restart it, i get my correct desktop. But it doesn't stay through a reboot.
    – endolith
    Nov 8, 2015 at 12:10

fix/workaround create a new admin user account.

name a new folder on the desktop of the new account and right click properties. the location of your folder should be C:\Users\username\Desktop if it is you fixed it you just need to copy all of your stuff over manually to your new user. copy from C:\Windows\System32\config\systemprofile to C:\Users\username\

then when you have everything from you old account you can delete it remember you might need to backup your passwords/bookmarks from your browser


Logging out and logging back in worked for me.

  • A restart fixed it for me as well (but on Windows 8.1)
    – Michael K.
    Jan 26, 2016 at 12:20

Try using Microsoft Fixit: It "might" fix most errors, registries.It's a solution center which can fix your errors and files that have been erased and implement it back to its default state.

It can also solve all the performance issues or all the privacy and files that you have partitioned or deleted.

Also works with user accounts. So if you have lost all your user credentials or moved it somewhere else, it can be brought back to its default state

Please try: http://support.microsoft.com/fixit/

Don't forget to restart your computer after everything is done.

FYI: you can also download the software and make it "RUN" in your computer it will fix all of your errors and all the faulty files and Windows errors. Including your whole windows Folder.

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