Semi-corrupt Windows 7 profile

Recently had this odd error that I’ve never seen in all my 30+ years of computers.

Started out that the user could not view their pictures on the desktop. I thought maybe  bad picture. Copied the picture to the desktop and same problem. Copied it to a newly created directory off the root oft he hard drive. Same issue.

Windows 7 Error: “Windows cannot access the specified device, path or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access them.”

Went into other profiles on this computer and accessed the same pictures, previewed them just fine. Points to user profile corruption.

Interesting side note: when I was trying to figure out why the one profile was exhibiting this behavior while the others weren’t, I noticed that if you clicked on the Windows Folder (or My Computer) icons, the title bar of the error message showed explorer.exe. Lowercase. When I used the Windows Key+E shortcut, the title bar showed explorer.EXE. Uppercase for the extension. Looking into the registry for explorer highjacks always showed the explorer.exe (lowercase) spelling. Not a virus or malware on the system. I could navigate the directory structure using cmd prompt and in applications that have a browse button (which use explorer.exe), so I was puzzled as to why the applications could browse but I couldn’t. Must be some permissions difference from the user account and the permissions the applications run under.

Users profile was loading so it wasn’t a temporary profile issue. Verified with the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList and didn’t find any .bak profiles.

Followed the standard troubleshooting tips listed here as well as others on the ‘Net.

  • Method 1:
  • Follow the steps these steps and check if the issue persists:
  • a.       Click on Start and in the search bar type cmd.exe
  • b.      Right click on cmd.exe and click on Run as Administrator
  • c.       In the command prompt type the following command
  • net localgroup “Administrators” “NT Authority\Local Service” /add
  • d.      Press enter and restart the computer.
  • Method 2:
  • If the above step fails temporarily disable security software and check.
  • Important: Antivirus software can help protect your computer against viruses and other security threats. In most cases, you should not disable your antivirus software. If you do have to temporarily disable it to install other software, you should re-enable it as soon as you’re done. If you are connected to the Internet or a network during the time your antivirus software is disabled, your computer is vulnerable to attacks.
  • Method 3:
  • If the above step fails create new user account and check follow the steps in the link:
  • Method 4:
  • If above step fails Enable the build-in Administrator account follow the steps in the link:

None of these helped. After a couple of days scouring the Interwebs I happened on this page with the solution from Luke.

  • My solution works in about 2 minutes, its a very odd error and has only happend to 3 work stations over the past 3 years, this solution does not require creating another account if local administrator is active and allows access back to the corrupted user’s documents ect.
  • log in as the local administrator or domain administrator
  • if local admin is not activated refer to and after completing those steps log onto the local administrator account.
  • Locate the user’s files eg. C:\Users\[Username]\
  • if you cant see AppData push Alt to see the toolbar at the top of the window, select Tools>Folder options go to the view tab and select “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” click okay.
  • navigate to AppData\Local
  • Select all (Ctrl+a)
  • Delete
  • *Dont delete credentials (at most it will remove their desktop background)*
  • This will release the error.

Short answer is that something in the users appdata\local folder was wrong. I haven’t figured out what went wrong yet. Had changed out the AV solution a week prior to the crash. Have been cleaning up useless installed program (you know who you are). Took this network over recently.

After deleting the contents of appdata\local, still logged in as administrator, switched users and logged in as the user and viola, it all worked again. Even Outlook rebuilt it’s profile and repopulated the accounts.

Thank you Luke!

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