How to Fix User Profile Cannot be Loaded in Windows 10?

Sometimes, when you log on to Windows 10 after entering the username and password, you may see an error “The User Profile Service failed the sign-in. User profile cannot be loaded”. The login is not performed, and you are asked to specify the username and password repeatedly. Among the most common mistakes with loading a user profile are:

  • Corrupted user profile on disk (local or roaming);
  • Antivirus software that performs files scanning and blocking in the profile folder at the time of authorization. This causes an error when loading the user profile;
  • Corrupted Windows registry file;
  • Corrupted default profile or incorrectly configured NTFS permissions.

Let’s consider how to fix User profile cannot be loaded error in Windows 10 and log on into the system.

First of all, we recommend restarting your computer and try to log in using your account. If the reboot didn’t help, go to the following methods.

user profile service failed the sign in

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 system 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.

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, you won’t be able to login under your user account.

To fix the problem, it is enough to replace the damaged C:\Users\Default folder. Copy the same folder from the working operating system (Windows 10 builds should 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.

the user profile service service failed the sign-in user profile cannot be loaded

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:

icacls c:\Users\Default

Here is the default folder permissions:

the user profile service service failed the sign-in

NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM:(OI)(CI)(F)

BUILTIN\Administrators:(OI)(CI)(F)

BUILTIN\Users:(RX)

BUILTIN\Users:(OI)(CI)(IO)(GR,GE)

Everyone:(RX)

Everyone:(OI)(CI)(IO)(GR,GE)

Error User Profile Cannot be Loaded for Only One Single User

If only one user has a problem with the profile, then only the directory or registry entry with the user’s profile is damaged. Try to logon as another user with administrator permissions. If it’s not possible, boot your Windows 10 in 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 for corrupted Windows user profiles. Run the command:

chkdsk c: /f /r

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.

user profile service service failed the sign-in

  1. Open the Registy Editor (regedit.exe) and go to the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList;
  2. 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 linked to a single user profile. You can list the SIDs of all your local user accounts using the command:
    wmic useraccount get domain,name,sid

    the user profile service failed the sign-in

  3. 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;
    the user profile service failed the sign-in user profile cannot be loaded
  4. 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;
  5. Sometimes, the profile tree for your profile has two sections. One of them ends in .bak. You need to rename the main section to .bak in the registry, and .bak to the main section. If there is only a key with .bak, simply remove this extension;
    user profile cannot be loaded
  6. Verify that the value of the RefCount and State parameters is 0;
  7. 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 to create a new account and copy the profile data there.

Troubleshooting Errors with the User Profile Service Events

The admin’s way to troubleshoot the user profile load errors is to analyses the error events of the User Profile Service. If you can login Window under with a different account, you need to open the Event Viewer and go to the section Application and Services Logs > Microsoft > Windows > User Profile Service > Operational. Find the most recent error event in this log.

the user profile service service failed the sign-in. user profile cannot be loaded

If you cannot login 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:

  1. Event ID 1509:
    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
    Or
    Detail- The file cannot be accessed by the system
    Solution: Check the permissions on the specified user profile folder.
  2. 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.
  3. Event ID 1508:
    Windows was unable to load the registry. This problem is often caused by insufficient memory or insufficient security rights.
    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.
    for C:\Users\marco\ntuser.dat
    user profile service failed the sign in user profile cannot be loadedSolution: The NTUSER.DAT in the user profile folder is corrupted and needs to be replaced (check the solution above).
I enjoy technology and developing websites. Since 2012 I'm running a few of my own websites, and share useful content on gadgets, PC administration and website promotion.
Cyril Kardashevsky

8 comments

  1. Thank you for this. Saved me a load of time. Now I need to figure out what changed ownership and inheritance of the Default user directory.

    1. Chkdsk c: /f /r
      did it for my friend who I was helping. Note that it took 5 hrs for her PC to run chkdsk and repair. After reboot, everything was back as it should be.

  2. this seems to be caused by a random windows glitch, never did find the cause
    I’ve seen it occur in every version since NT
    my usual fix is steps 1, 4, 6, the rest is unnecessary and time consuming
    step 5 actually causes other problems, by deleting all the user settings
    I’ve only ever seen it reappear once, 3 years later and after an update

  3. You are the only one that gave the right information about two folders: Public and Default, which btw are not always hidden for some weird reason. If we delete these two with other users, there will be no chance of a new user to log on. Therefore the message: “The user profile service failed to sign – in” as it uses these two folders to take the staff from it.

  4. Thanks! After trying many suggestions on different sites, including registry profile fixes, etc., I copied over the Default folder from another machine and that fixed it!

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