The User Profile Service service failed the logon. User profile cannot be loaded.

…How’s that for good grammar?

Anyway, this error popped up for me in Windows 7 the other day.  After the computer boots up, you click on your user icon, type in your password, and BAM!  “The User Profile Service service failed the logon.  User profile cannot be loaded.”  And then you are logged off, and stuck back at the user select screen.

If you’re having this problem, hopefully you have another account on the computer that you can sign in to.  To fix it…

  • Sign into another Windows account.
  • Run the registry editor.
  • Navigate to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList.
  • Look at the sub-keys here in the form of S-1-5-21-XXXXXXXXXX-XXXXXXXXXX-XXXXXXXXXX-XXXX.
  • One of them is probably duplicated with the extension “.bak.”  Remove (or backup) the one without the .bak, and then rename the remaining one, removing the .bak extension.
  • Log out and try to log in as your troublesome user.  Should be fixed now!

Now, why did this happen in the first place?  I think it has something to do with Windows Backup creating a backup copy of the profile during the backup procedure, and then being interrupted or something and not restoring things to how they used to be.  Maybe there are other scenarios that can cause this problem as well.  In any case, I hope this helps someone!

By the way, while this happened to me on Windows 7, I understand that the error can occur on Windows Vista as well.

Update: April 26, 2010

Some commenters have noted that if you only have one account on your computer, you may still be able to use this trick to fix your problem.  Try booting in safe mode (press F8 at boot).  If you can log in using safe mode, fix the registry as described above, and then reboot into normal mode and you should be all set.

Update: September 1, 2010

If you do not know how to use the registry editor, or you do not know how to start your computer in safe mode, Google up a tutorial for either of these and once you figure them out, you should be able to use this information to solve your problem.  Or, get a more experienced techy friend to look at your computer and point him or her to this article.  Explaining these is beyond the scope of this article and I won’t be posting any more detailed step-by-step in response to comments.

Update: December 1, 2010

Jon Hege reports in the comments that this problem may also be caused by a missing C:\Users\Default folder.  In this case, you may be able to copy the folder over from another machine to correct the issue.

154 thoughts on “The User Profile Service service failed the logon. User profile cannot be loaded.”

  1. This happened to me too, but rebooting and deleting the stored hibernated session that I had fixed it (if I’m remembering correctly)

  2. What if you do not have a different profile to log in with? My wife somehow caused this problem on my daughters laptop and she only had the one profile set up. If I can get logged in, how do I get to the registry editor?

  3. To get to the registry editor, go to Start->Run (or Windows key + R) and type “regedit”.

    I don’t know what to tell you if you only have one account…

  4. This same problem has occured now twice when trying to set up my new computer, transferring the old accounts with easy transfer. After the first time I did a clean install of windows 7, that fixed it temporarily, but now the problem has re-occured! I don’t want to reinstall windows every two days!
    Trying out the proposed solution, I have the following comments: My profile list shows 5 entries, none of which has the . bak.The two working user accounts are represented by a long,almost identical series of numbers. The profile image shows which ones they are. The troublesome account is not present. The other three short numbered profiles relate to system profile, local service and network service. Any suggestions what I could try to resolve the problem? Many thanks in advance!

  5. If none of them has the “.bak,” then the cause of your problem is not the one that I uncovered here. At the moment, I don’t know what else it could be… sorry I can’t be of any help!

  6. Thanks Aaron,

    It worked for me. Thanks a ton! Although i have to refer the other site and got detail procedure. In my case it was one account only, so was worried more.

    Thanks again! it worked like magic.

  7. What if I only have 1 user account? I dun have an admin account or second user account for me to logon? Help!!!! I can’t use my computer to study my CPA.

  8. Apologies, I do not have a solution for you if you only have one account. (I always create at least two accounts because I’ve had similar trouble before, where one became unusable!) Sanjeev below suggests that there may be a solution over at Good luck in your search!

  9. Thanks a bunch! Phew, win 7 gave me a scare. I didnt have another account too. But I was able to log in in safe mode and change the registry from there. Great, thanks again. I have an assignment due tomo and this win 7 was going to ruin everything.

  10. Thanks a bunch! Woke up this morning with this problem and only have one profile but I took the advice of another respondent who booted in safe mode and it worked perfectly! You’re a life saver!

  11. Pingback: Password Login
  12. Goodness thank you so much guys this really helped I have a way of breaking things or doing something bad and it just happens i did this to my brothers computer anyway if i could give u all millions of dollars for all your help I would but i hope a simple thanks is enough god bless you all for your help!

  13. Well I’ve read loads of stuff and I’m impressed by all the knowledge out there, but it doesn’t help me I’m afraid as I only just brought the laptop.
    This is the problem with having so many passwords for different things. I accidentally used a password which I use for something else, thinking it would be easy to remember. Later when I tried to log in, thinking I’d used something different I couldn’t remember it, so I created a new password. This was fine for the session I was doing (just finding my way around the pc), not having gone back on it for two weeks, the new password, this failed User Profile failed came up.
    I only have the one account and I need to find a way around it. I too, am not at all techie, hence making a total mess of things, which is a good reason why I believe ALL pcs should come with the basic manual etc, not like this one, which is needing to make bake-up discs. I didn’t get that far!
    So any ‘Idiot Guide’ step-by-step instructions for this as I am using Windows 7 not Vista. Or does it work the same as Vista steps? If so, that’s far too techie for me. Help?

  14. Thank You very much. I have this problem after I run windows 7 update. But it’s solved now.


  15. Still crying – help!
    This is new laptop with Windows 7, so not upgrade and only one solitary logon account.

  16. Just wanted to chime in that I was able to fix this while not being able to access safe mode or a second account.
    All I had to do is boot from the windows Vista CD, select language and choose repair. From there you go into the command prompt and type ‘regedit’
    Once in regedit, go to hkey-Local-Machine and select it, and choose load Hive from the file menu. Navigate to your system drive C:/ in most cases, then drill down to Windows/system32/config and select the software file with no extension. I named this hive ‘Bad System’ when prompted. I swapped the bak and normal sub-keys in question (added .bk to the end of the non .bak one, removed .bak from the other and then changed the .bk to .bak also changed the RefCount and States values to 0. Then just unload the hive (select Bad System and select unload hive from the file menu) Quit regedit and your done!

  17. Ah…but you had the Vista CD. As said, I didn’t get as far as download and making a back up of the user manual and files etc.
    Thank you anyway Sean. Seems I’m still waiting for a real teckie to bail me out of big do-do, otherwise I’m gonna have to ring the blasted mega expensive tech support!
    Thought these gadgets are supposed to make life easier….NOW my new mobile has just lost its capacity to hold the memory card in the side…you know, the tiny door that keeps it in!
    Ggggrrr. Really miffed now. Technology – who wants it!

  18. I wouldn’t mind, but I brought the flipping laptop to work on wedding photographs I took last Saturday!
    And all day today, I’ve had to download to my over-packed Acer pc and it’s soooo sllloooowww!
    Might as well go to bed!

  19. I have tried these steps successfully completing them three times as i have used three different websites with same process/ Still does the same exact thing/ ANy other suggestions, my pc lost power during windows update and now everything is messed up.

  20. I will never again buy another Windows based product! My next computer will be a MAC and I will make darn sure I don’t purchase it at Best Buy. Every electronic item I have prchased there including my new ASUS Windows 7 has had problems.

  21. My computer won’t even let me go to safe mode. When it boots up and I press, hold, or even tap f8 it just takes me right back to the logon screen please help me

  22. THANK YOU! I’m was a registry hacking virgin until now. Thanks for being gentle. This worked on the first try.

  23. You are a life saver! I “used to be” a desktop support guy, and used to know these kinds of straight forward fixes, but it’s been too long!

    I have a machine that I built myself, for home use, but I connected my VPN, and joined it to the domain. All was well for a very long time, but I had a network error with my Netgear, and once I finally had fixed that, with logging in and out and rebooting, some how this error creeped in.

    You fix was right on the money.

    Thank you!

  24. Thank you!!! I thought my dausghter had done something terrible, but this site first helped me turn on the administrator login and then remove the duplicate problem in ProfileList. It is now creating her desktop and we have lost nothing!

    Thank you so much for your wonderful, helpful site. Will now go search if I can speed up her little Dell.

  25. Cheers!
    I was handed my mother-in-laws laptop with this message about 30 minutes ago and thought, why me?
    Google led me here and it was fixed within minutes, with nothing lost and everything working.

    Dell laptop. Vista Home Premium 32bit.
    One user account with no login.
    F8 trick (April 26) allowed me to edit the registry and reinstate the *.BAK key

    BTW, the actual message begins, The User Profile Service service failed the logon…. An extra ‘service’ I thought you were refering to at the start of your article.

  26. Thank you – this was helpful and resolved my problem. At first, I was unable to edit or delete anything in the registry editor (it was my administrator login that had the problem, so I was logging in with a different profile). When I logged in as the administrator in safe mode, though, I was able to make the necessary edits in the registry and now everything is working fine.

  27. I had this problem after only 3 days with my new computer and, like RobS, couldn’t edit the registry because I couldn’t log in in administrator mode. Following his comments, I booted up in safe mode and could log in OK to make the change. Thanks very much for your help – I’m sure that it has saved me hours/days of torture talking to “help” desks.

  28. I’m Rather confused.
    I have 2 identical subkeys (minus the part with the .bak)
    and another (making it 3 choices)
    (it ends in 3 characters… it’s also identical to the others, but the last three digits are different hence the ‘OOO’s i put)

    Which of these do I delete?
    and which do i rename?
    what do i rename it as?

  29. Like the article says, you only care about the one with the .bak extension. Back up, rename, or remove the key that is the same as the one with the .bak extension. Then rename the .bak one, removing the extension. Don’t worry about any of the other subkeys that you see there.

  30. Thank you so very much for this information, it totally saved my bacon. I thought I was really hosed!! Thanks again.

  31. This worked, thank you! this is what you do, dont delete ytour username! then click F8 again and click “repair” :D

  32. You are a star. Was flapping about loosing alot of work info, but not now it worked a treat

  33. I have the same problem (happened after a MS update, I think). For some reason I cannot find any SID’s, other than S-1-5-18, 19 and 20. Is there any way I can recreate these via regedit on the Vista installation disk? I think that your method, Sean, is probably the most appropriate.
    Anyone’s help would be much appreciated.

  34. i found it BUT there is NO PROFILELIST ??!

    oh what shall i do!! this is soooooGRRRRRR!! hate technology

  35. HI,
    I am running Windows 7 Home Premium on my Dell Inspiron 14
    Something went awry and it doesnt allow me to login.
    I dont have another user account nor do i have any restore points…How do i fix this???
    Need solution Asap…my heads freaking….

  36. Another grateful reader, many thanks. You are a lifesaver. I did have to get in via safe mode but it did work!

  37. Well done, thanks. Worked a treat. Much more helpful than M$’s technote about deleting your profile.

  38. i cannot log says user profile cannot be loaded…i don’t have any account to log in..what should i need to do to fix it///pls. help me…

  39. how do i navigate to
    HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
    i cant figure it out and i just bought my laptop please help

  40. Tried everything you suggest but can’t even get into safe mode. Please help. Pressing Fn F8 on startup is ignored by computer

  41. Dude. You are the BOMB, this happened on a netbook and I am thinking OMG how to reinstall without a drive, and found your solution. THANK YOU

  42. I have same error message for user existing in active directory running on Win 2K3. If user logs into Windows XP machine, everything is fine. If user tries to log into Windows 7 machine the user gets that error message and can NOT log in.
    No user profile is created in the “Users” folder nor in the registry.

    I have searched everywhere and it seems I am the only one with this problem.

    Please help.

  43. @TS_Garp:
    You are not alone, I am having the exact same problem with AD on Win2K3 with new users logging onto Windows 7 computers, which of course means these profiles do not yet exist on the computer or in the registry. Hopefully a solutions is found and posted soon.

  44. Thanks for the tiops. I tried to follow but was too techy for me. I ended up just runnung a system restorew from Safe mode and its all fixed. So if you are not techy enough to follow these instructions, just go to safe mode and run system restore.

  45. Hmm i navigated to the right area
    and found the problem .bak
    however it computer wont let me delete or rename.
    very frustrated!
    any advice?

  46. very helpful – took me a while to find the start of the path (not HKLM for me), but once I got to software\microsoft the rest matched perfectly and the fix worked.

  47. @” SUZ
    RE: Hmm i navigated to the right area
    and found the problem .bak
    however it computer wont let me delete or rename.
    very frustrated!
    any advice?

    Reboot into safe mode(Hold F8 at boot) and then follow the steps

  48. Perfect!!! Worked in Vista! With just one account (admin)

    I started in Safe Mode and done what u said!

    Thnx a lot! (Sorry for my bad English)

  49. GREAT Advise! Worked Great! Better than Microsoft where they suggest you delete current profile and start over – no thanks – not enough time in the day!!!

  50. Hi,
    I am also having this problem and it occurred not long after making a back up. I have been following you instructions but when I try to remove or backup the file I get this message…”Cannot delete S-1-5-21-***********. Error while deleting key”. The same thing happens when I try to remane or do anything with the files.

    Any suggestions?

  51. Hi again,

    Just left a message about not being able to delete or rename the said files. Here’s a little help for those having the same problem.
    Start you computer in safe mode and follow the instructions on this page.


  52. OMG!!!! You Rock!!!! I was about to pay Microsoft $60 to fix this for me. Worked like a charm! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  53. In my case, I did not find any registry key or profile folder to delete.
    But somehow the Default profile folder (C:\Users\Default) had gotten erased. So I copied this folder from another working machine onto the broken one. Now all users can log in.

  54. Genius,

    Thank you so much saved me so much time, effort and £49 that microsoft were going to charge me for this 2 minute fix!

  55. I only have one account and I am following your steps in Safe Mode to correct the failed logon. However, how do you rename the remaining extension after deleting the the one without the .bak?

  56. I was skeptical because I have dozens of students logging into our terminal server and I could only find one key that had the same identifier with and without a .bak, but I went ahead and tried your suggestion. Bam! Worked beautifully! Thanks for your help!

  57. This works a treat thanks – I did have to check on another website how to access the registry editor but was really easy to find
    Thank you

  58. I had some trouble in that Safe Mode was also giving me that error message so I couldn’t log on. I was able to use a BartPE boot disk to edit the registry and it worked beautifully. Thanks for the help.

  59. If the user has not logged in yet and you see this error on first login, I found, that most of the Time it is a rights issue
    Take a look at the event viewer under applications and look for a 1509 event (Warning) saying something like “Windows cannot copy file C:\Users\Default\AppData\Local\……. ”
    Check out that folder mentioned above and assure that folder has
    Everyone Read& execute
    Users (local) Read& execute
    Administrators full control
    System full control

    If that’s not the case it will have an effect on the user creation and it will fail

    Carpe Diem
    Martin Strasser

  60. I have an inspiron mini and I have just added Norton 360 anti virus. When I reboot, and add my old password it says “the user profilr service failed the logon. User profile cannot be loaded”. I cannot get into safe mode and I cannot view the operating system. This PC also only has USB and no CD rom capability. How can I get this resolved?

  61. This worked for me. The only trouble I had was figuring out that HKLM meant HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. Thanks!

  62. Many thanks for a helpful article. The update of December 1, 2010 was the clue. On our Windows Server 2008, I needed to set the permissions of C:\Users\Default to read/write before the profile could be successfully created and I could log in.

  63. i have windows 7 laptop. i’m facing the above mentioned problem. but i dont have another account to open.what do i do?

  64. log in as Safe Mode, and you can do it as specified above. otherwise log in as safe-mode with command mode and enable administrator user then do it as mentioned above.

  65. this was very helpful! i found another, lees popular way of fixing things though. i turned on the computer in safe mode with networking, and brought it back to it’s last restore point.

  66. Excellent, it works! I had only one admin account, so I had to logon in safe mode. Very fast and easy way to correct the problem. Thanks a lot! :-)

  67. Hi, i don’t have an alternative login profile but i have managed to start up my computer in safe mode.
    however when in safe mode i can’t either set up a new account or find the registry editor, all i have is registry mechanic and that won’t open either, can anyone help me further?

  68. YOU ARE A GOD!!! thank you very much, worked perfectly and im no expert. you have just saved me a whole lot of stress and money thanks very much.

  69. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I wasn’t sure that I could edit the registry in safe mode. Because your update was on the top of the page, I was confident enough to try it– and it worked! Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart, as I was sweating bullets!!

  70. Just wanted to say thank you. A very simple fix, very clearly explained – all for a very annoying and worrying Windows problem. YOU ARE BRILLIANT!

  71. Another thank you comment, saved me losing a hair or two! :) I was going to setup a new profile and glad to have come across your blog fix. Thanks once again.

  72. Hi Aaron,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to post your solution and help unknown others (like me!) in the wilderness of the Internet. This worked brilliantly, I couldn’t log on due to this error. I used safe mode to logon as suggested by Mwansa, then followed your instructions to change the registry key, which cleared the problem. I’m back in action, thanks.
    Mary (Ireland).

  73. OMG I have NEVER been able to fix something without making it worse…thank you SOOOOOOOOOOOOO much, your directions were perfect :))

  74. Hi Aaron,

    Thanks for this, your fix worked a treat. Was nice to see this worked for so many other people and so many took the time to thank you.

    My problem user was on a Win7 Pro x64 domain profile running in a Win2008R2 domain. If this helps someone else, the user logged into safe mode using their problem profile and made the registry changes as no other accounts were known or available – didnt think this would work, but it did.


  75. Worked perfectly! Glad I read this before trying to guess my way through :) You have been a tremendous help! Thank you for posting.

  76. Worked for me like a charm, thank you so much! I’m running Vista and this problem popped up out of nowhere. I didn’t have a separate user account so I logged on in safe mode and edited the registry that way. My first time doing so and I was a bit nervous about it but your directions were perfect. Thanks!!

  77. I had same problem with lap top. That I have error messages the user profile service failed the log on. and i did exactly how internet teach me but i need stop there where i remove after numbers .bak word because my computer let me do this..there comeing box the specifiled key named already exists and nothing help anymore. what should i do to now.

  78. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I had the same problem with my laptop and Vista and tried the safe mode with networking and the most recent restore point as suggested by “Jennifer says” in your blog. It worked!!!!
    Again, thank you!

  79. Hi !! I don’t know how many websites I found, publishing this solution, that is because I’m having the same problem but with a whole new instalation and a whole new user. So this solution does not apply to me because the user profile does not exist !!! so I don’t have any S-1-5- profile in regedit. At this moment I’m stuck in the situation that I cannot configure any new users in my network.
    Any solution would be much appreciated.
    A good day to you all !!

  80. Like everybody else here…. Thankyou!

    You wrote this article and 2 years ago it’s still helping many people!

  81. Dude, I can’t thank you enough for this.

    I just spent 10 hours moving partitions… accidentally moving an important partition and getting a bluescreen in the middle of writing to the MBR… trying to straighten out my partitions in Linux, trying to straighten out my partitions in gparted, waiting for this tool called TestDisk to find my lost partitions, trying to remember *exactly* how I had my partitions up so I could make the right changes…

    Then I finally am able to boot into Windows, but I get this silly “User Profile Service service” error.

    …Then it occurs to me that Windows probably can’t find my User folder because it’s on the K: drive that I just deleted and spent 10 hours recovering. Sure enough, Windows was mounting it to E: instead of K:! So 2 hours later, I managed to fix that.

    …And, of course, I still couldn’t log in.

    I figured there was probably some other discrepancy somewhere with my drives/partitions. I NEVER would’ve expected that Windows was just playing keepsies on a half-loaded profile!

  82. that worked! I havent a clue and had not ever used registry edit before. I had only one admin account so had to go in in safe mode. folowed the instructions & its working! Thanks so much!- Conall

  83. I foolwed the instructions for the correction of the registry, it was llike a magic…the user account is working fine now.

    Thanks a lot—
    I really appreciate this new experience.


  84. Holy Smokes Batman!! Huge lightning storm here today.. and ‘puter comes up with this problem when I booted this evening. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I was about to reinstall windows when I couldn’t get out of this loop. Had to do the safe mode boot, but all went well, and up and running now. Again Thanks!

  85. Your instructions plus the instructions at solved my problem.

    Thank you!

  86. This worked great! The only change was the registry editor was HKEY….. But found everything else perfectly.

  87. Hello, I just now broke my outstanding laptop and I absolutely need it fixed asap. I’m fresh to the Phoenix area and located this provider close by. I want to find out if anyone had known them, here’s their info Computer Guru Consulting, 2942 N 24th St #114, Phoenix, AZ 85016, (602) 903-5666. Any help is going to be greatly appreciated, thanks!

  88. I am on a brand new PC, was working perfectly fine until last night when it asked me for a shutdown ’cause of an update. THIS IS MY ONLY ACCOUNT ON THE PC, AND IT IS THE ADMINISTRATOR ACCOUNT. When I log on the EXACT same thing happens. It’s just fucking bullshit, because its a 2013 update, and this shouldn’t give these fucking problems. No I cannot log on to the F8 thing ’cause it starts up too fast do do F8. Please find me a different solution. Thank you.

  89. Thanks, it works for me too.
    Glory be to God.

    This can help someone too:
    Here’s How Run the Registry Editor:

    Click on Start.

    In Windows XP, click on the Start button and then click Run….

    In the search box, or Run window, type the following:

    and then press Enter.

    Note: Depending on your version of Windows, and how it’s configured, you may see a User Account Control dialog box where you’ll need to confirm that you want to open Registry Editor.

    Registry Editor will open.

    If you’ve used Registry Editor before, it’ll open up to the same location you were working in last time. If that happens, and you don’t want to work with the keys or values at that location, just continue to minimize the registry keys until you’ve reached the top level, listing the various registry hives.

    You can now make whatever changes you need to make in to the registry.

    Important: Considering the impact that the registry has on your computer, I highly recommend that, before you get started, you either backup the entire registry, or backup the individual registry keys that you’re planning on working with, whatever is more appropriate for what you’re planning on doing in Registry Editor.

  90. Just had this problem on my Asus netbook for the first time and been screwing for two hours, until I came across the above fix with the registry editor – It worked fine for me! Thank you!

  91. I followed these instructions but stupidly don’t think I backed up everything properly. Is there anyway to sort this so I can get my bf’s 7 years worth of data?? Help!!

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