I have a laptop which is being given to a different employee. I added a new Administrator account and deleted the old one.

I deleted the User from the Windows 8.1 user utility thingy.

So the user is gone, can't login, that's good.

Problem is, in Explorer, he's still there. Let's call the guy Bob. So when I navigate to C:\Users I still see the \Bob directory. I don't want to see Bob any more.

Can someone please tell me how to remove C:\Users\Bob? When I try, it goes on forever (says it's deleting some 12 gig of files - which don't exist in that directory) then hangs on a couple of system files. Bob's gone and not coming back, I'd like his user directory to do the same.

10 Answers 10


You can delete this user folder with a graphical user interface, no need to use command lines there.

Open the Control Panel with an administrator account, go to System settings and click the "Advanced system settings" link:

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In the "Advanced" tab "User Profile" section, click "Settings":

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The user profile (stored in C:\Users\Bob) will appear as "Account Unknown" since you deleted the Bob user account. Select it and click "Delete":

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The C:\Users\Bob folder will be deleted.

  • This worked for me on Windows 10, too. Aug 13, 2018 at 9:11

When you delete the user account, it does not remove the profile folder, and now that the folder is no longer associated with a user profile, it will be listed as "Account Unknown" as you observed.

You can safely delete any "Account Unknows" from the System Properties dialog, but this may still not completely remove the users' directory.

If it has not, and User\Bob is still a thing and not canned like his sorry a$$ was, then you should be able to manually go through and delete the profile. Sometimes these profiles can go very deep, with lots of nested folders that do not delete properly, or even locked files.

Taking ownership of the folder and giving yourself Full Control of all the folders, subfolders, and files, should help, as well as shortening the names of any folders that may extend beyond the path length limit.

Standard procedures for deleting large and complex folders apply here as well:

  • Delete a few subfolders at a time, rather than just trying to get all of them in one go.
  • Remove Read Only permissions on the files.
  • Make sure you've got the appropriate permissions on your own account to do the deletion.
  • Reboot the computer to make sure any open files are closed (thumbnail caches are worst about this).
  • Kill explorer.exe and use Taskmanager to delete really tough files.
  • For the absolute worst files that just refuse, use a bootable disk that allows you to mount the local drive and control it and remove the offending files. Be VERY careful if it comes to this though.

Here is what worked for me ... very simple way:

  1. Go to Users folder
  2. Options ... Change Folder Options ... View Tab ...Show Hiddeden Files and Folders.
  3. Then go deep into the hidden AppData folder within the unwanted user folder and delete all the subfolders ― starting with the lowest level foler
  4. Delete the unwanted folder.

You could try to delete the profile. Open System Properties, choose the Advanced tab and select "Settings" in the User Profiles section. This will bring up a list. If Bob is listed in there, you can try deleting which should clear up all associated registry keys, directories etc.

  • @arco444 - Thanks for the advice, but after opening System Properties the only thing I see is my new account, "Default Profile", and 2 more that say "Account Unkown". No Bob anywhere there, but he's still in Explorer under Users. Any other advice? Thanks, Jason (original poster)
    – user182622
    Jan 28, 2014 at 16:26
  • Likely Bob is one of the "Account Unknown" profiles. I've never noticed any ill effects from deleting unknown profiles and pretty sure it's safe to do so but won't be held responsible if it causes any issues :)
    – arco444
    Jan 28, 2014 at 17:48
  • Strange - I deleted Bob from Control Panel -> User Accounts. There were already the 2 Acc't Unknowns, so I'm thinking Windows didn't somehow "move" him into one of the accounts. But I'll give it a shot just the same!
    – user182622
    Jan 31, 2014 at 14:53
  • When you delete the user account, it does not remove the profile folder, and now that the folder is no longer associated with a user profile, it will be listed as "Account Unknown" as you observed. Oct 8, 2014 at 18:33

For future reference, Win8.1 (and probably Win8) has a built-in repair console that let me delete an old user folder that I could not delete from within Windows. Not safe boot's command prompt mode, but a direct boot to console. It boots from a tiny X: drive, and at this point C: is the special boot partition, so your real C: drive is D:.

In D:\Users, I was able to use "RMDIR /S badAccountName" to quickly delete all of the folders.

The harder part is getting to the repair console. Log out, then hold shift and click the on-screen power icon and choose "Restart". Keep holding shift as it restarts, and you will get a menu of repair options. Choose "Troubleshoot" and then "Advanced Options" and then "Command Prompt"

You will need to log in with your working account, and will then get a command prompt on the X: special boot drive. Change to D: and dir to confirm that it is your normal C: drive; if not, use DISKPART to list the various drives and volumes to figure out where your real drive is.

  • This repair console isn't limited to Windows 7 if you are talking about WinRE
    – Ramhound
    Jan 7, 2015 at 13:34

Use robocopy with flag /Mir from administrator cmd to mirror an empty folder into the Bob folder. This command can bypass path length limit and use the power of top admin. Only file are read-only and are being opened will not be delete

  • 1
    Can you explain why copying a folder into C:\Users\Bob causes C:\Users\Bob to be deleted? Feb 10, 2015 at 6:39

After trying everything..this is what worked

Go to safe mode (msconfig, enable safe boot) delete the pesky folder period!

ms config disable safe boot



Oddly enough, one of the things that can stop a user profile from being completely deleted is the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. Stop this service using services.msc, THEN use sys properties/user profile settings to delete the profile. If you get the message that the profile did not delete completely because the folder is not empty, no worries. Just use explorer or cmd line to delete. It will go away. Then, you can restart the service if you want. (Known issue in Win 7 and Win 8)

  • Welcome. Can you add a link to your answer where people can go for further information on this being a known issue? Thanks.
    – fixer1234
    Dec 19, 2014 at 0:58

Given what you have said I would go to create a bootable device (CD/DVD/USB, USB my preference) running something like, lets say, SYSRESCUE, and boot on this and elect to run a "file manager" of some sort (like Midnight Commander), does not really matter what as long as you can see NTFS drives and is known to be reliable. Then go ahead and navigate your way to the problem area and delete. I do this for similar issues but would not have spent as much time as you have thus far, I head to this method fairly quickly if it is obvious something it giving me an issue. This also stops 'windows' from having any hooks active against the files you are wanting to remove, basically stopping windows from interfering with your task.

Here is link for Sysrescue http://www.sysresccd.org/Sysresccd-manual-en_How_to_install_SystemRescueCd_on_an_USB-stick

There are other bootable OS options of course.


Easier than you might think... main problem is the apps folder(s) under the user's name contain hidden folders which are linked to programs that might keep processes running in the background.

First, make sure you are logged on as as an administrator. Next, go to File Explore and click 'Show Hidden Files and Folders.' Then, go to C:/Users/'the_user_name'/App Data, and ... Look for folders with names that refer to programs, such as Real Player. Now, go to Task Manager and end any and all processes related to the folder name.

Once the processes that had a lock on the folder are ended, the folders can be deleted forever.

  • This duplicates another answer and adds no new content. Please don't post an answer unless you actually have something new to contribute.
    – DavidPostill
    Mar 3, 2015 at 6:07

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