Fix Temporary Profile (TEMP Profile) (Microsoft Windows)

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Sometimes Windows OS may not read or load your correct user profile properly, instead it will load with temporary profile which will look like a new user profile. If you are not aware that it is a temporary profile on your Windows laptop or desktop computer, then you will be surprised to see the brand new desktop without your files, folders, program shortcut icons and any personalized settings.

This step by step guide shows you how to fix temporary profile issue on Windows.

You have been logged on with Temporary profile” - that’s the famous message from Windows you would see when you have this issue. This guide has been updated with several other methods, more information, inputs, related links and the experience we had on this same issue in Active Directory domain and Workgroup environment.

Why Windows Loads with Temporary Profile?

Obviously, your profile (the files and folders located under C:\Users\user_name) is corrupted (or not properly loaded). There is another chance which is a delay in reading your profile files due to antivirus scan or something else during boot up. Usually after typing your username and password Windows tries to read and load your profile, if it gets corrupted or delay in reading, Windows will load with temp profile to give temporary access on computer.

Fix TEMP issue on Workgroup and Domain environments

Before do anything, restart the computer 2 or 3 times to see whether it’s going back to your old correct profile. Go to next step if this doesn’t work.

Rename the TEMP profile registry and revert back the old registry settings for the correct profile. This method works most of the time in Workgroup and Domain environment.

  • Log in with TEMP profile.
  • Start Registry Editor by typing regedit in find box of Windows.
  • Navigate to the following location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

Fix Temporary Profile (TEMP Profile) (Microsoft Windows)

You will see similar keys under profile list, but one with .bak, as shown below.

Under ProfileList in the left pane, locate the SID keys which are something like “S-1-5-21..some long number”. You will see two or more of these SID keys, probably one will have .bak at the end and other one will be without it. The one with .bak is the link to your inaccessible profile and there will be one other that is to the temporary profile you are currently using.

To confirm, click on any SID key to highlight it. Now in the right pane, next to ProfileImagePath in the Data row, it will be "C:\Users\Your Inaccessible Profile Name". Click on all SID keys like “S-1-5-21...some long number” and delete the keys that have your profile name next to ProfileImagePath EXCEPT the one with .bak at in the end.

Confirm the message and click OK.

Fix Temporary Profile (TEMP Profile) (Microsoft Windows)

The key (folder) with .bak is for the correct old profile. Currently your Windows computer logged in with fresh (temporary) profile with same key. So, delete the new profile key ( which is not having .bak extension) and remove .bak from correct profile key. See below.

Fix Temporary Profile (TEMP Profile) (Microsoft Windows)

That’s it. Log off and log in (or restart) with your user name and password. You must get your correct profile with icons and profile settings back in Windows, if you are lucky enough.

Still if Windows laptop loads with temporary profile and creates a registry key with .bak, that means user profile is really corrupted and operating system is not reading it properly.

Use chkdsk on your HDD

Few times this method works: repair the corrupted files. Usually the corrupted Ntuser files cause this issue. So, run the check disk for partition which is having user profile.

Fix Temporary Profile (TEMP Profile) (Microsoft Windows)

After restarting for check disk, if you see corrupted entries and repairing process inside your user profile folder, then you can hope for good news here. If it finds and repairs any files especially Ntuser files, you may get your old Windows profile back.

If none of above works...

If above steps do not help you out, then we need to create a new profile with new user name.

Create New Local User Account

Basically we need to create a new user account, login with it and transfer the data from old user profile to new user profile. It is easy in Workgroup environment as you can create new user name locally, but it is tricky in Domain environment. Because, the existing user account is already there on domain server and nothing wrong with it. Also, creating a new different domain user account will cause issues on corporate emails, domain groups membership and shared permissions.

So, we need to treat both cases separately.

Create new user name in non-Domain (Workgroup environment) from Control Panel or Computer Management. Make sure to add the new user to Administrators group.

Login with new user name and start copying your old data from old profile. We normally copy below data:

  • My Documents (Music, videos and downloads)
  • Desktop
  • Favorites
  • Any Outlook PST files and AutoComplete files (NK2)

But Microsoft suggests to copy entire old user profile.

New user profile in Domain environment

Since we can’t delete and create new domain user account for this purpose, we will play around with client computer only. Let’s completely remove the user profile and re-create again.

Copy the important user data (a to d in above step) or entire folders from corrupted profile to new location. Double-check that you have copied all required folders and files from old profile, because we are going to delete it now.

Go to Advanced settings of System as shown below, click on Settings (User Profiles), select the corrupted user profile which is not loading properly in Windows, then press Delete button. Delete button will be enabled only if you login with different user account.

Fix Temporary Profile (TEMP Profile) (Microsoft Windows)

This will remove the entire user profile and related user SID from computer including the registry keys we talked about earlier. You can cross check the proper removal of user account (SID) by checking the C:\Users folder.

Once it is remove properly, restart the computer and login with same user name (which was not loading earlier). The computer should create a new user profile as this is the first time the user is logging on. You need to copy back your old important data to new profile and set e-mail Outlook etc. if needed.