How to Fix “User Profile cannot be loaded” Error in Windows?

The error occurs when the User Profile Service is failed to run at the startup. When this error appears, the user cannot log in to the account as the account might be corrupted or damaged. However, there are some ways you can use to restore your account.

How to Fix The User Profile Service Failed The Logon?
How to Fix The User Profile Service Failed The Logon?

User Profile Service might be failed to start due to the duplicate profile entry in the registry editor. Mainly, this is the leading cause of a corrupted user profile.

Proceed to the methods below:

1. Boot Windows in Safe Mode

To make changes in Windows, you have to enable the safe mode, as you cannot log in due to the error message. The error often occurs due to duplicate entries, so we have to rename the entries to fix this error. For that, you need to boot into safe mode.

  1. On the sign-in screen, click on the power button from the bottom right
  2. Hold the Shift key and then click Restart
  3.  The options screen Window will appear; click Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings

    Navigating to Troubleshoot
    Navigating to Troubleshoot
  4. And then click Restart from the bottom right
    Restarting Computer to Boot into Safe Mode
    Restarting the Computer to Boot into Safe Mode
  5. Once the computer restarts, press 5 or F5 on the keyboard to enable the safe mode
  6. Once done, proceed to the following methods to fix this error.

1.1 Edit Registry Profile Entry

The registry editor contains a key called ProfileList, which contains the subkey for the user profiles. Usually, the error appears when the user profile keys are duplicated. To fix this, you need to change the names of the duplicated profiles.

We recommend creating a registry backup before making modifications to the registry editor. Below are the steps you can follow:

  1. Click Start Menu and type Registry Editor

    Opening Registry Editor
    Opening Registry Editor
  2. Open the registry editor and navigate to the following path
    Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
  3. Expand the ProfileList, and if there is a sub-key with the .bak extension, that means you have a duplicate entry. If you do not have a subkey with the .bak extension, skip to step 6.
  4. Right-click the sub-key with the .bak extension and click Rename

    Checking For Duplicate Entries
    Checking For Duplicate Entries
  5. Remove the .bak and then right-click the subkey without the extension and click Rename
  6. Type .bak or ba at the end of the sub-key name and hit Enter to save
    Renaming Entries
    Renaming Entries
  7. In the right pane, right-click the State key and click Modify

    Clicking Modify
    Clicking Modify
  8. Change its value data to 0

    Editing a Registry Value
    Editing a Registry Value
  9. Repeat the same process with the RefCount key
  10. Once done, close the registry editor and restart your computer to check if the error persists.

2. Replace NTUSER

NTUSER.DAT is a file that contains all the user information. If it is corrupted, you might get this error message. Hence, try replacing the NTUSER file to fix this error by following the steps below:

  1. Enable the Safe Mode by using the method one instructions
  2. After that, open the file explorer and navigate to the disk where you have installed your OS
  3. Then go to Users
  4. Click View from the top and tick the option called Hidden Items

    Seeing Hidden Items
    Seeing Hidden Items
  5. Now navigate to the Default folder
    Opening Default Folder
    Opening Default Folder
  6. Right-click the NTUSER.DAT and then click Rename
  7. Add .old at the end of the file name. The name of a file should be NTUSER.DAT.old

    Renaming User Profile File
    Renaming User Profile File
  8. Now return to the Users folder and go to the Guest folder or any other user folder
  9. Right-click on NTUSER.DAT and click Copy

    Copying User File
    Copying User File
  10. Now go to the Default folder and paste the copied file here
  11. Once done, restart your computer to check if the error is fixed. 

3. Use System Restore

If the error does not fix after renaming and editing registry entries, we recommend using a system restore utility. However, the system restore demands a restore point, which should be created before the error occurs. You cannot use this utility if you do not have a restore point.

System restore is a process that takes a snapshot of the files, including the registry editor, for the future. When something bad happens, such as driver corruption, BSOD errors and an error like this, system restore takes the Windows to a previous state with the help of the restore point. Here are the steps:

  1. Click the power button and then hold shift and click Restart
  2. Navigate to Troubleshoot > Advanced  Options

    Go to Troubleshoot
    Go to Troubleshoot
  3. Click System Restore and then click Next

    Clicking Next
    Clicking Next
  4. Select a Restore Point and click Next

    Selecting a Restore Point
    Selecting a Restore Point
  5. Click Finish to start the restore process
    Clicking Finish
    Clicking Finish
  6. Once done, the error should be resolved.

4. Restart the User Profile Service

The disabled user profile service can mainly cause this error. It is a service that sign-in the user to his local or Microsoft account. If this service is not running for some reason, you could get this error message on your screen. Therefore, it is recommended to ensure that the service is working. Below are the steps:

  1. Boot Windows in safe mode by following the instruction in method 1
  2. After that, press the Win + R to open the Run dialog box
  3. Type Services.msc and hit Enter

    Navigating to Services Window
    Navigating to Services Window
  4. Find and right-click the User Profile Service
  5. Go to Properties

    Opening Service Properties
    Opening Service Properties
  6. If the startup type is not set to Automatic, then change it to Automatic and click Apply
  7. If the service is stopped, click the Start button and then click OK to save the changes
    Restarting User Profile Service
    Restarting User Profile Service
  8. Once done, close the Window and try restarting the service.

5. Create a New User Account

You can create a new user account if the error is still there, as the old account is corrupted. After creating an account, if the error does not occur, you just need to transfer all of your data to the newly created account. We have given the instructions below to create a local account:

  1. To follow the instructions, boot the Windows in Safe Mode by following method 1
  2. Once you enable the safe mode, click Start Menu and type the command prompt in the search box
    Opening Command Prompt
    Opening Command Prompt
  3. Now type the following command to add a new user
    net user /add username password

    Note: Replace the username with the name you want for your account. Same with a password, but the password is optional; you can skip it by not typing anything.

    Adding A New User Account
    Adding A New User Account
  4. Again type the following command to make add a new user account to the administrators
    localgroup administrators username /add
    Adding A New User Account to Administrators
    Adding A New User Account to Administrators
  5. Once done, log in with your newly created account and transfer all of your data into it. 

6. Switch to the Normal Startup

Sometimes while performing a clean boot, we disable the Microsoft services, so we encounter several errors such as this one. Therefore, ensure that you have not disabled the Microsoft services, and also, if you use a selective startup instead of normal, switching to the normal startup might fix your issue as it enables all the device drivers and services, even if they are not relevant.

  1. Below are the instructions to change the startup type:
  2. Again for this procedure, you will need to boot into the safe mode and then execute the following steps
  3. Press Win + R to launch the Run Window
  4. Type msconfig and click OK to open the system configuration Window
    Opening MS Configuration
    Opening MS Configuration
  5. Now under startup selection, if it is a selective startup, change it to the Normal Startup

    Selecting Normal Startup
    Selecting Normal Startup
  6. After that, go to Services from the top and if the Enable All option is available, click on it
    Enabling Microsoft Services
    Enabling Microsoft Services
  7. Once done, restart your computer and check if the error persists.

7. Reset or Reinstall Windows

If you still do not get rid of this error, the final solution is to reset or reinstall Windows. If you want to go for a complete reinstallation of your operating system, you can visit the article on How to install Windows, or the users who want to reset their computer can follow the instructions below:

Note: You will not lose your data, such as photos, videos and documents. However, this will remove drivers, apps and the settings you have applied to your computer.

Follow the first method to enable the safe mode:

  1. Once you are in safe mode, click Start Menu and type Reset This PC
  2. Open the setting and click Get Started to start the process
    Clicking Get Started
    Clicking Get Started
  3. Choose the option Keep My Files and then click Local Reinstall
    Selecting Keep My Files
    Selecting Keep My Files
  4. Click Next and click Reset to reset your computer.
    Resetting Windows
    Resetting Windows
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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 “User Profile cannot be loaded” Error in Windows?

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