How to Fix “system32\config\systemprofile\Desktop” Error

You logged on to your Windows system and your desktop is completely blank and you can’t seem to find any data you previously had on your desktop?The following error pops-up instead leaving you baffled and clueless as to what to do  “…system32\config\systemprofile\Desktop” refers to a location that is unavailable It could be on a hard drive on this computer, or on a network. Check to make sure that the disk is properly inserted, or that you are connected to the Internet or your network, and then try again. If it still cannot be located, the information might have been moved to a different location.”, then you are not alone.

This error usually occurs after a corrupt window update gets installed on your computer or when your system crashed abruptly. The cause can be as simple as incorrect location path to as big as corrupt system files. If a simple reboot have not solved your problem, then follow this guide to get your desktop and its data back the way it was.

location is not available

Solution 1: Restarting Windows Explorer

Sometimes, the error is triggered if the Windows Explorer isn’t functioning properly. Therefore, in this step, we will be restarting Windows Explorer after ending it completely. For that:

  1. PressWindows” + “X” keys simultaneously.
  2. SelectTask Manager” from the list and click on the processes tab.

    Selecting Task Manager from the list
  3. Scroll and select the “Windows Explorer” option from the list.

    Selecting Windows Explorer from the list
  4. Right-Click on it and then click on the “End Task” button to end it.

    Right-clicking and then selecting the “End Task” option
  5. Hover the pointer to “File” and click on “Run New Task“.

    Clicking on File and then selecting Run New Task option
  6. Type in “Explorer.exe” and press “Enter“.

    Typing explorer.exe and pressing enter
  7. Check to see if the issue persists.

Solution 2: Reset Desktop’s Location

Your operating system may not be able to link your desktop to its default location.

Hold the Windows Key and Press R. In the run dialog, type



Open the folder with your username. There will be a folder named Desktop. Right click on it and click Properties.


Click on Location tab. Now click the button “Restore Default” and click OKClose all windows and restart your system.


If that did not work, we can change its location through registry too.

Press Windows key + R. Type regedit and press Enter. Click Yes if a UAC warning appears.


In the left pane, click on HKEY_CURRENT_USER to expand it. Now click on Software under it. Similarly navigate to Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders.

Make sure User Shell Folders is highlighted and in the left pane, then double click Desktop. Make sure under Value data: the value is either %USERPROFILE%\Desktop or C:\Users\%USERNAME%\Desktop is the value. Click OK. Close the registry editor. And restart your system, and check if your problem is fixed.


If not, move on to the next method.

Solution 3: Move Profile’s Content Back to Its Location

Press Windows key + E to open file explorer. Copy %windir%\system32\config\systemprofile\ and click on the address bar above to make it editable now paste the path you copied. Press Enter to go to the path.


A folder will open. Now delete the folder named ”Desktop” there. If you see an Access is denied error, take ownership of the systemprofile folder first by following Solution 5 on our guide on this link and then delete it.

Hold Windows key and Press E. Open C: drive. There will be a folder named Users. Open it. Open your account folder. This will be your username/name.

Now you can see a folder named Desktop. This folder will have your entire desktop’s data you previously had. If you have two Desktop folders, then open each and delete the Desktop folder which is empty or has incorrect files, which is not supposed to be there.

Similarly if you can see any more duplicate folders, then delete the folder which has files it’s not supposed to have or is empty.

Now right click on the remaining Desktop folder and click copy.

Go back to %windir%\system32\config\systemprofile\ and paste the desktop folder there.

Now restart your system and check if your system’s back to normal. If not, you will have to create a new account and move your old data to it. Move to the next solution to do that.

Solution 4: Create a New User Profile

In this solution, we will create a new account and migrate your old data to it. Doing this can automatically fix corrupt paths in the registry.

Click Start and Type cmd, right click cmd and choose Run As Administrator. In the command prompt, type and execute the following two commands:


net user /add usernamehere passwordhere

net localgroup administrators usernamehere /add

This works for local accounts only. BUT you can switch your account to Microsoft should you wish on Windows 8/10 by using any app from the Windows Store (that will prompt you to sign into the Microsoft Account). This is optional. Then, copy your data from the corrupt/previous profile by following these steps:

  1. Hold Windows key and Press E to open windows explorer.
  2. For Windows 7, click Organize in upper left corner, then Folder and search options.
  3. Click on View tab. Click to select Show hidden files, folders, and drives.
  4. Uncheck the box by clicking on it next to Hide protected operating system files.
  5. Confirm the warning, then click OK and close all windows.
  6. For Windows 8 and 10, click on View tab, and click on Options at the right corner.
  7. Click on View Tab, Click to select Show hidden files, folders, and drives.
  8. Uncheck the box by clicking on it next to Hide protected operating system files.
  9. Confirm the warning, then click OK and close all windows.
  10. Navigate to C: drive > Users > Old_Profile where C: is the drive where your Windows is installed and Old_Profile is your old windows account’s name.
  11. Now copy all the files and folders here except Ntuser.dat, Ntuser.dat.log and Ntuser.ini.
  12. Now go to C: drive\Users\New_Profile where New_Profile is your new account’s name you just created. Paste the copied content here.
  13. Once you make sure all your data is moved to the new account you can delete the old account through going to Add or remove user accounts again in Control panel.
  14. Your problem should be gone now. If not let us do know your exact situation in the comment section below.

Kamil Anwar

Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.
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Expert Tip

How to Fix “system32\config\systemprofile\Desktop” Error

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