Thursday, February 12, 2015

Recovering from "User Profile Service Failed the Logon" issue upon Windows 7 / Vista Logon

Anyone who has ever tried to log into a Windows 7 or Windows Vista device and received a "User Profile Service Failed the Logon" error knows how frustrating this can be.  How can you troubleshoot something when you cannot log into the device?  This blog shows how to handle this user logon failure issue.  If there are multiple user accounts created on the device, one of the other user accounts should allow logons.  However, if there is only one user account on the machine, fixing the issue requires making changes to the registry.

If there are multiple user accounts on the device
Log into any account other than the account giving the logon error.  If the account experiencing the issue has important data stored in it and is not backed up anywhere else, copy the data before deleting the user account.  Otherwise, delete the user account then recreate it to fix the issue.  To delete the user account, open the Control Panel, select "User Accounts", and click on "Manage other users" to delete and create the user account.  
To copy data from the user account to another account, use Windows Explorer to navigate to the C: drive, Users, double-click the user account with the issue, then copy files from the Desktop, Documents, or wherever files are stored for the user account.  If access to the files is denied, the current account  does not have administrative privileges.  Log into a secondary account with administrative privileges to access and copy the files.  

Once all files have been copied, delete the account with the issue and recreate it.  Log into the account to verify the issue no longer exists.  Copy any files over to the recreated account.

If there is only one user account on the device
When there is only one user account on the device fixing the issue is more complex but can be done fairly easily.  First, log into the machine in Safe Mode by repeatedly pressing the F8 key as the computer boots after the initial beeps but before the Windows splash screen.  At the menu prompt select "Safe Mode" which boots the device without starting many of the peripheral drivers normally started when a device boots.

First, open the registry editor by going clicking the Start button and typing "regedit" into the search bar and clicking enter.  Backup the registry before making any changes.  In the registry window, click File and select "Export".  Type a name for the registry such as the date, and save it somewhere where it will be easy to find later.

  1. Navigate to the following registry key by expanding folders:
    2. Software
    3. Microsoft
    4. Windows NT
    5. CurrentVersion
    6. ProfileList
  2. Under the ProfileList folder, locate and click on the folder beginning with "S-1-5" followed by a long string of numbers.

  3. In the right pane, double click on "ProfileImagePath" to verify the user profile listed is the profile experiencing the issue then click OK.

  4. In the left pane under the ProfileList folder, right click the same "S-1-5" folder from the previous step and select "Rename".
  5. Remove the .bak extension from the folder and press enter.
  6. Click on the newly renamed folder in the left pane.
    1. Double-click on "RefCount" then replace the number listed under "Value Data" with a 0 and click "OK".

    2. Double-click on "State" then replace the number listed under "Value Data" with 0 and click "OK".  

  7. Close the registry editor.
  8. Restart the device and test logging into the user account which previously had the logon error.
Whenever accessing the registry it is important to use caution and be sure to follow instructions exactly.  Equally as important it to always backup the registry before making any changes.  Whether there are multiple accounts on a device with user profile logon failures or not, being able to logon to any user account is imperative.  Following the instructions above will fix the user account logon issue while saving or keeping the files associated with the user account intact.

As always, good luck and happy computing!

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