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When I restarted my computer, I can sign in with my user credentials but all my files are gone. When I try to open some applications, I am being asked for my serial number as if I am just now installing them. It's like my user profile has been reset or something. I tried "unhiding" files in file options, but that didn't work. Also, there are no restore points left. I show 100 GB used hard drive space. Chain of events: I installed an Acrobat update, restarted and now this is the result.

Can anyone help?

  • psouza4 - you are spot on. There is an entry in the event log: Error (correct date, time are listed) - Source: User Profile Service - Event ID 1502 - Task Category: None - Windows cannot load the local stored profile. Possible causes of this error include insufficient security rights or corrupt local profile. ---- Do you know any remedies? – S Call Aug 13 '15 at 20:56
  • Microsoft recommends creating a new user profile and copying any relevant files there. There are step by step details edited in my original post (too long for a comment reply). – psouza4 Aug 13 '15 at 22:46
  • psouza4 - Thank you VERY much! Your diagnosis and remedies were right to the point. I am following your guidance. Thank you, again! – S Call Aug 13 '15 at 23:28
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Please check the Windows event log and find out if there are any errors loading your user profile.

Instructions for repairing your user profile from Microsoft:

Before you create a new profile

Occasionally, Windows might not read your user profile correctly—for example, if your antivirus software is scanning your computer while you try to log on. Before you create a new user profile, try restarting your computer and logging on with your user account again.

To create a new user profile

To create a new user profile, you must first create a new user account. When the account is created, a profile is also created.

The steps that you should follow will vary, depending on whether your computer is on a domain or a workgroup. To find out, see "To check if your computer is on a workgroup or domain" in What is the difference between a domain, a workgroup, and a homegroup?

Show all My computer is on a domain

My computer is in a workgroup

To copy files to the new user profile

After you create the profile, you can copy the files from the existing profile. You must have at least three user accounts on the computer to complete these steps, including the new account you just created.

  1. Log on as a user other than the new user you just created or the user that you want to copy files from.

  2. Open the My Documents folder by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Computer. Double-click the hard disk drive that Windows is installed on (it's usually your C: drive), double-click Users, double-click the folder with the name of your account, and then double-click My Documents.

  3. Click the Tools menu, and then click Folder Options.

    If you don't see the Tools menu, press Alt.

  4. Click the View tab, and then click Show hidden files, folders, and drives.

  5. Clear the Hide protected operating system files check box, click Yes to confirm, and then click OK.

  6. Locate the C:\Users\Old_Username folder, where C is the drive that Windows is installed on, and Old_Username is the name of the profile you want to copy files from.

  7. Select all of the files and folders in this folder, except the following files:

    • Ntuser.dat

    • Ntuser.dat.log

    • Ntuser.ini

  8. Click the Edit menu, and then click Copy.

    If you don't see the Edit menu, press Alt.

  9. Locate the C:\Users\New_Username folder, where C is the drive that Windows is installed on, and New_Username is the name of the new user profile you created.

  10. Click the Edit menu, and then click Paste.

    If you don't see the Edit menu, press Alt.

    1. Log off, and then log back on as the new user.

    If you have e‑mail messages in an e‑mail program, you must import your e‑mail messages and addresses to the new user profile before you delete the old profile. If everything is working properly, you can delete the old profile.

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/fix-corrupted-user-profile#1TC=windows-7

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  • Filesystem is probably corrupted, doing anything on this system may cause further overwriting of lost data. – gronostaj Aug 13 '15 at 20:40
  • The author has verified that the user profile won't load, not that there is general file system corruption. It should be checked for, but not automatically assumed that the drive is a total loss. – psouza4 Aug 13 '15 at 22:52
  • I agree, but if file system is corrupted then acting without considering it corrupted will make even more damage. – gronostaj Aug 14 '15 at 8:45
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Stop using your computer right now. Let it shut down and don't touch it.

The filesystem on your hard disk may be corrupted. Your data may be recoverable, but you should stop using the computer to minimize the damage.

Chances are high that most of your data can be restored, but you should handle it very gently and slowly. Your best bet is to pay a professional data recovery company, they will save what they can and you'll probably get your disk back.

If you want to recover data yourself:

  • Grab a bootable LiveCD/LiveUSB with some Linux distro
  • Get two extra drives of the same size or bigger
  • Boot Linux, mount corrupted drive read-only and other ones read-write
  • Clone drive using ddrescue
  • At this point you can safely try to fix your system with other methods because you have a full disk image
  • Try Windows' chkdsk with the /r switch and check if your data is back
  • If it's not, use photorec or something similar to recover files from disk image (made with ddrescue) to the second extra drive

The DIY option requires some Linux skills.

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