QUESTION I'm unable to access the main user account on my Windows Vista Home Basic PC. Windows displays the message ‘Cannot load profile'. Charlie D

HELPROOM ANSWER I suspect your user profile is corrupt, Charlie. You should be able to create a new profile and copy over documents and settings, but you should ensure the hard drive has no errors on it first.

Start up the computer and log into the temporary profile that's offered. Go to Start, Computer and right-click your C drive. Click Properties, Tools, Error-checking and choose Check now. Ensure both boxes are ticked.

Go to Start, ‘Schedule disk check'. Reboot the PC when prompted. If your profile still refuses to load, continue to the next step.

Boot up the PC in Safe mode (press F8 during startup and select Safe mode). Now go to Start, Control Panel, Folder Options, View and tick the ‘Show hidden files, folders and drives' option.

Look in C:\Users for a folder labelled with the name of your old user account. Copy this to a safe location, such as C:\UserBackup. Note that the C:\Users folder will be named C:\Documents and Settings in Windows XP.

Go to Start, Control Panel, User Accounts and create a new user account with Administrator rights. Reboot the PC and log in as the new user.
Go back to User Accounts and select ‘Manage another account'. Choose the old account and click ‘Delete the account'.

Look in C:\UserBackup for the contents of your old profile and copy them over to the new one - with the exception of NTUser.Dat, NTUser.Dat.Log and NTUser.Ini.

You may have to set up your email accounts again, and import existing mail from its original location. In Outlook, this is: C:\Users\Len\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\outlook.pst.

In Outlook Express: C:\Users\[username]\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{[identity ID]}\Microsoft\Outlook Express.

In Windows Mail: C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail.

In Thunderbird: C:\User\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\XXXXXX.default\Mail.

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