Manually rebuild Windows Vista user logon profile

Rebuilding a Windows user profile is an old “cure-all” trick used to troubleshoot various logon problems, such as profile errors, unreasonably slow logon, or to restore Windows user settings to first-time-use defaults.

In Windows XP, it was possible  to simply rename C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME folder to .OLD, for example, in order to rebuild a user’s Windows profile.  However, performing the same steps in Vista will create a TEMP user folder instead of a fresh profile.

This solution is a little risky if you are not familiar with the registry, so only attempt if you’re comfortable making direct modifications to the Windows registry.

  1. Click Start

2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

a. Look at each folder that starts with S-1-5-21

i. In each folder there are two values you are looking for

1. Guid-contains another unique numeric identifier

2. ProfileImagePath-contains the path C:\Users\username

3. Once you have found the unique ID for the user, in the same directory as ProfileList there are two other folders, ProfileGuid and PolicyGuid.

a. Open each folder and look for the Guid found in ProfileList and delete that folder.

4. After deleting the folders out of ProfileGuid and PolicyGuid, delete the user’s unique ID from ProfileList

5. Move the user’s folder from C:/Users to the C: drive.

  1. After replacing the new folder with the new one, you will have to replace My Documents, Desktop, and Favorites.