Sometimes, when you log on to Windows after entering the username and password, you may see an error “The User Profile Service failed the sign-in. User profile cannot be loaded”. You are unable to sign-in and are prompted to enter your credentials again and again. Among the most common mistakes with loading a user profile in Windows are:
- Corrupted user profile files on disk (this can happen with local and roaming profiles);
- Antivirus software that scans the device and blocks some files in the user profile folder when a user tries to sign-in. This causes an error when loading the user profile;
- Corrupted Windows registry file or errors on the device’s file system;
- Incorrect profile path in the registry for the user account;
- Corrupted default profile or incorrectly configured NTFS permissions.
Let’s look at how to fix the User profile cannot be loaded error in Windows 10/11 and log on to the computer.
First, we recommend you restart your computer and try to sign in with your account. If the reboot didn’t help, go to the following methods.
Error “User Profile Cannot be loaded” When Logging in With a New User
If the error The User Profile Service failed the sign-in appears when you first log in to the computer under a new account, it means that the Default profile is corrupted or the permissions on the Default profile folder have been changed. The default profile is the directory with the profile template for all users of this computer. Default profile settings are copied to the new profile at the first logon. If the C:\Users\Default directory is corrupted or missing, the Windows Profile service won’t be able to copy data from this directory to the new profile directory.
Check the path to the profile template directory in the registry. Run regedit.exe, go to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList registry key and check the value of the Default parameter (%SystemDrive%\Users\Default should be here).
The main file in the Default Profile folder is NTUSER.DAT. This file stores user profile settings, preferences, configurations, etc. If this file is missing or corrupted, User Profile Service in Windows won’t be able to create a profile for the new user, and you will not be able to sign in with your account.
To fix the problem, it is enough to replace the damaged C:\Users\Default folder. Copy the same folder from another computer with working operating system (Windows version, build number and language must match). Verify that the properties of the Default folder and the NTFS permissions match.
In some cases, it is enough to copy the C:\Users\Default\ntuser.dat file to ntuser.dat_bak file and replace it with the ntuser.dat file from the Guest or Public profile folder on the same computer.
Restart your computer and try to log in to the new account.
Check the current permissions on the C:\Users\Default folder and make sure that it inherits permissions from its parent folder C:\Users. You can list the NTFS permissions with the icacls tool:
Here are the default folder permissions:
You can force reapplying permissions on the folder “C:\Users\Default”. Right-click on the Default folder, select Properties > Security > Advanced > Change Permissions > activate the checkbox “Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object” > OK. This will reset the permissions on all nested objects.
Also, the profile service will not be able to create profile files for a new user if there is not enough free space on your disk. You can quickly check the remaining free disk space with the command:
volume diskfree c:
User Profile Cannot be Loaded for Only One Single User
If only one computer user has a profile problem, it most likely means that the directory or registry hive with the user profile is corrupted. Try to logon with another user with administrator permissions (you can use a local or domain account). If you can’t sign in to Windows with an administrator account, boot your device into Safe mode, in the recovery console, or the Windows PE environment.
First, check the disk for errors using chkdsk. File system errors are the most common cause of corrupted Windows user profiles. Run the command:
chkdsk c: /f /r
Wait while the tool checks the file system and fixes any errors it finds.
Restart your computer and try to log in. In some cases, this may be enough. If this doesn’t help, boot your computer in Safe mode again. Open the Services.msc console and make sure the User Profile Service is started and configured to start automatically.
Fix User Profile Server Failed to Logon via Registry Editor
Now check the settings for mapping user profiles to folders in the registry.
- Open the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and go to the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList;
- In the list of the registry key tree, there will be several sections with long names starting with S-1-5. Each line corresponds to the security identifier (SID) of a Windows user account and is linked to a single user profile folder. You can list the SIDs of all your local user accounts using the command:
wmic useraccount get domain,name,sid
- To determine which profile belongs to a specific user, you need to look at the value of the ProfileImagePath parameter. In our example, you can see that key S-1-5-21-3650440056-3766451173-3310994491-1001 corresponds to the root user (C:\Users\root). Check if this folder exists on the disk;
- If you find your user and the name of the registry key doesn’t end with .bak, then change the value of the DWORD 32-bit parameters State and RefCount to 0. If these parameters are missing, create them;
- Sometimes the list of registry profiles contains several keys with the same SID. One of them ends in .bak. You need to add the suffixes .old to the first registry key without .bak (use the menu item “Rename”), and remove the .bak suffix from the second registry key. If there is only a key with .bak suffix, simply remove this extension;
- Verify that the value of the RefCount and State parameters is 0;
- Restart the computer. In most cases, this should fix the problem with the damaged user’s profile.
If this doesn’t help, the official documentation Microsoft recommends creating a new account and copying damaged profile data there manually. To create a new (clean) profile for the user the next time the user logs in, you can rename the registry key with its SID by adding the .old suffix at the end. In this case, User Profile Services will create a new profile for the user the next time they sign in. You will have to copy the contents of the personal folders such as Desktop, Download, Pictures, and Documents from the old profile to the new one.
Troubleshooting “User Profile Service Failed the Sign In” Events
The admin’s way to troubleshoot the user profile load errors is to analyze the error events of the User Profile Service. If you can log in to Windows under a different account, you need to open the Event Viewer (eventvwr.msc) and go to the section Event Viewer >Application and Services Logs > Microsoft > Windows > User Profile Service > Operational. Find the most recent error event in this log.
If you cannot log in to Windows, you can boot the device in the Safe Mode and copy the log file “%SystemRoot%\System32\Winevt\Logs\Microsoft-Windows-User Profile Service%4Operational.evtx” to an external USB drive for analysis on another computer.
The most common User Profile Service errors for problems loading user profile are:
- Event ID 1509: Source: Microsoft-Windows-User Profiles General
Windows cannot copy file \\?\C:\Users\Default\ to location \\?\C:\Users\username\. This error may be caused by network problems or insufficient security rights.
DETAIL – Access is denied
Detail- The file cannot be accessed by the system
Solution: Check the permissions on the specified user profile folder.
- Event ID 1500:
Windows cannot log you on because your profile cannot be loaded. Check that
you are connected to the network and that your network is functioning correctly.
DETAIL – The system cannot find the file specified.
Solution: Check if the user profile folder exists on the local drive; make sure the corresponding registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList points to this folder. Make sure the NTUSER.DAT file is present in the user profile folder. If this file is removed or corrupted, you will have to manually copy it from another user profile on this computer or from another computer with a similar version of Windows.
- Event ID 1508:
Windows was unable to load the registry. This problem is often caused by insufficient memory or insufficient security permissions.
DETAIL – The system has attempted to load or restore a file into the registry, but the specified file is not in a registry file format.
Solution: The NTUSER.DAT in the user profile folder is corrupted and needs to be replaced (check the solution above).
- Event ID 1511 – Windows cannot find the local profile and logs you on with a temporary profile. Changes you are making to this profile will be lost when you log off.
Solution. Your local profile is corrupt or the profile folder is missing on the specified path.