Home | Articles | Microsoft | Windows Vista | The User Profile Service failed the logon. User profile cannot be loaded

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

In my efforts with Vista/ Windows 7 I keep encountering some nagging issues.  My latest was on one of my laptops; when logging in, I am prompted with an error: “The User Profile Service failed the logon. User profile cannot be loaded.” Luckily for me, I was able to piece enough information together to get it resolved.  Now, I hand the resolution over to you.

NOTE: Editing the Registry incorrectly can cause serious, system-wide problems that may require you to re-install Windows Vista to correct them. Microsoft nor computingondemand.com cannot guarantee that any problems resulting from the use of Registry editing can be solved. Back up your registry first, but use at your own risk.

  • Restart your computer and log into safe mode: As your computer is rebooting, press F8 Repeatedly after your POST screen.


  • Run “Regedit”: (If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type your password, or click Continue.)
  • Locate the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
  • You should see a few folders in the tree that are in the format: S-1-5-XXXXX.  If one of the longer of the bunch has a .bak on it your profile is in a backup status and can be fixed without being deleted. If you click on the folder with the .bak extension you will see an entry in the right pane that has the path to your logon user.

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About Joe D

I have always had a passion for everything computing. In early 2000, I decided to take my passion to the web. Thus, C.O.D. was born. Through the years we have made many great friends at C.O.D. and hope to continue our journey for years to come.

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  1. Thanks. I even asked a neighbor who is a programmer and he didn’t know how to fix it. But your tutorial was easy and fast. Thank you so much!!

  2. Thanks much! I’ve been running into this on more and more systems, and this is definitely the simplest and best solution.

  3. Thank you for the “profile” error fix. Your procedure worked.

  4. thank you for info. it fixed without any problem! Nice one

  5. When I search for regedit in safe mode it doesn’t show up…?

  6. It worked!!!!!! Thank u so much!!!!!!!!

  7. Wow thank you so much, I almost lost two months worth of work. I cant thank you enough!

  8. As all the other comments state – THANK YOU!!!  I am still not sure why this happened to me and to my computer, but your instructions were great and all is fixed now.  Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  9. Awesoooooome, thanks. My computer still stinks but at least I can login.:D

  10. You just saved my ass! Thanks a lot 🙂

  11. mate your a ledgend. it worked beautifully! Thank you 

  12. absolutely epic!!!! thankyou so much!! does anyone know why this happens in the first place? :S tell me it wasn't some mystical windows update i never knew about..? lol

  13. This also occurs with Windows 7

  14. great solution… it solved the problem… great!! thanks ….

  15. Hi, what do I do if I cannot get into safe mode? My laptop crashes before safe mode is able to load. Thanks in advance!

  16. Thanks. I used logmein and the solution above to fix a remote Win 7 laptop with userprofile can't login issue. In logmein, in your local web browser where you remote control the target computer, left side bar, preference>advanced>reboot, you can reboot the remote computer in safe mode and loads logmein. Then proceed with the regedit method above at the remote computer.

  17. Thanks a lot for this solution. Works also fine with Win 7. Solved problem within 10 minutes.

  18. Thanks! You're a lifesaver.

  19. Great help!! Thanks guys!!

  20. My user service failed the logon user and when I went in to the Registry Editor my largest is S-1-5-20, does not have an identical number nor does it have ".bak" on the end. Now what?

  21. Great help guys.. keep it up

  22. thank you very very very very very much

  23. Spot on, Joe, fixed back in 10 minutes, many thanks.

  24. OMG! I have been trying to fix this errror for months & finally came across this website & it only took a few steps & minutes to fix my problem! You are truly awesome! Thanks a bunch!

  25. Thanks, really useful post! very well explained. works first time!

  26. Thank's a lot !! save me lot of time, i waste 4 hour to find this solution. Work great on 7, but the path is windowsnt.

  27. Thank you so much. Your instructions were easy to follow and best of all I didn't have to delete my profile (unlike the instructions from MS).

  28. Thanks for this, it worked perfectly.

  29. Awesome, this worked, would love to buy you a beer

  30. Many thanks, Worked a treat. 🙂

  31. I dont have two s-1-5-21 files i do have the 1 .bak file do i just add .old to the s-1-5-20 file and so on from there?

  32. Really frustrating problem but this worked like a charm. Thanks a million for the solution.

  33. I encountered this problem after installing some updates. Your solution worked perfectly. Thanks for the fix.

  34. hey i don't have that .bak file only the other long one without it.

  35. i still have a problem! after enter safe mode, i still have to enter the account pssword. and it still says the same thing

    "The User Profile Service service failed to log on"

    "User Profilecannot be loaded"

    i only have one account on the laptop and the password is absolutely correct

  36. Bless you for sharing this! It worked perfectly! I thank God I weeded a bunch of other sites and found this one before a needless restore!!!

  37. well thank you worked very good looks complicated but has to read very well thats all good luck guys

  38. this worked great- thanks!!!

  39. you are freaking awesome! thank you!

  40. Thanks. You saved my ass today.

  41. This worked for me. Thank you so much!!!!!

  42. I don't have .bak!!! My HKEY is missing SOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsNTCurrent…etc. and instead of .bak @ the end of the format,,it has _classes! What is this?? I've tried everything. Now when i login w/my hubby's profile,,his only opens in safe mode only.PLEASE HELP!!

  43. WOO HOO so Happy! THANK YOU!

    I thought I was doomed since i lost my restore point since i tried doing it outside of safe mode – and it failed in restoring.


  44. It worked.You fu***** rock.

  45. Thanks a million, worked perfectly.

  46. Hmm…Didn't work for me. I must've fuzzed something up. I guess I'll just have to go for a System Restore. What a shame.

  47. Thank you. These instructions were incredibly clear and helpful. Probably saved me hours of stress!

  48. Thank you for posting the solution to this problem. It happened to me this morning and I was really pissed off, but thanks to you, it is fixed now.

  49. I followed the instructions and it worked – I was really pleased.
    However, after a couple of sessions the problem re-appeared. I thought, OK, just fix it again.
    But, the .bak extension does not have the path to my logon user – the other extension does.

    What do I do now?

    Thanks in advance

  50. Thank you!!!!!!!

  51. Thank you so much for posting this fix. You are a life saver!!!

  52. Thanks so much…! i works a charm..

  53. OGM thank you! I knew there was a simple solution that was out of my realm of knowledge.

  54. i know tis is gonna sound stupid but i cant change the name from .bak to .old it keeps showing me “Error Remaining Key. The Registry Editor cannot rename S-1-5-XXXXX. Error while renaming key”

    if you could me or anyone how to fix this step it would be greatefully appreciated

  55. I haven’t been able to get into my files for a month. I was getting ready to wipe it clean and start over, but thanks to you, I’m up and running again!!!

    Thanks a million!

  56. Thank you so much. Your instructions were perfectly clear and worked like a charm. You are the best!!

  57. Thanks a lot friend.

    It solved my problem. You deserve a big treat from me. But I dont know where you live.

    take care


  58. Very good advice and (I think?) I understand what has happened with my (administrator) signon somehow being made “backup”. Can do the “REGEDIT” thing and find the necessary folders, but my PC wpn’t let me change the endings on the two relevant files… says “the registy editor can not rename “filename”…. error while renaming key. I can’t do a System Restore far back enough and I can’t set up another administrator user…. HELP PLEASE!!

  59. hi, i cant seems to find my run.exe in my safe mode, i search it too, but i still cant find it, can u help me?

  60. A much easer fix – just roll back your pc to right before the last update. Works great

  61. Brilliant, crysal clear instructions and worked a treat. Saved me a lot of time and hassle

  62. I cannot even explain how much time money and how many assignments this saved. Thank you so, so, so much.

  63. Perfect, thanks! You are The Best 🙂

  64. Thank you!!! It works!!!

  65. Worked great. My son who’s a college student called frantically unable to access his laptop with important documents for a school project. I tried your resolution and now I’m still the best dad ever. He dosen’t know I went online. You’re making me look realy good. Thank you and keep up the good work!! P.S. After a few days of gloating I’ll refer him to your site.

  66. If I could kiss you, I would… I tried it 2-3 times and it didn’t work and then it worked….

    I have two .bat files, one for QuickBooks I am assuming and I was changing the specs within that one and nothing… NOW – back to smooth sailing.

    My error started after a windows update…. I hate Vista. On to Windows 7.

  67. All I can say is that you are such a saviour and you will go to heaven! I was just so annoyed after a windows update caused this problem. I was resigned to having to reinstall windows and one last google search found this website. It works!!!!!
    thanks again and again!

  68. I just had to add my thanks. You ROCK!!! I was sooooo annoyed at all the other “fix it” instructions that told me to go to the start menu then….
    Well I could not GET to the start menu since I am the ONLY user and I was locked out! Grrr! K…I’m better now though thanks to you!!!!

    Can’t the Windows help people write normal, straightforward instructions like yours? I mean, they’re supposed to be kinds smart right? jk…have a good one!!!!!!!!!!!


  69. Thank you so much it worked!

  70. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!

    your instructions allowed me to very quickly resolve the problem.
    this was very easy, nerve racking at first, but it was easier than i imagined thank you

    Read more: http://computingondemand.com/?p=1969&page=3#ixzz0Tmu8tQOI

  71. Thank you very much. I am really thankful for your help.

    Greetings from Mexico

  72. Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou!!!

    your instructions allowed me to very quickly resolve the problem – very much appreciated

  73. Phew! Finally I got to access my laptop as before!!! Got a friend to help me with this & he knew about this site…n more importantly the FIX for this problem 🙂 this is of GREAT help & it has helped me save a lot of trouble with backups n new OS installations! thanks again u r a GENIUS 🙂

  74. Fantastic mate.. you are a real star!!

  75. Thank you very much for your the extremely informative fix. It saved me a lot of time and was really helpful.

  76. Helped me alot. Thank you.

  77. Joe, You saved me a lots of time and effort with this fix. I would vote you with ‘Fix of the Year’.
    Keep up the good work.
    Many Thanks

  78. I ran into this error today 9/11/09 on win vista 32 after installing windows update. Thank you very much for your instructions. I feel so relieve after window restart and I’m able to log in again. I’d like to suggest you remind us to save registry before tweaking just in case something go wrong, then we have a backup registry.

  79. hi…

    I did all the steps, but it dosen’t work…I think my problem is different!!!

    when I want to login & enter my password it sayes:
    “The User Profile Service service failed the logon.
    User profile cannot be loaded.”

    Please I need help

  80. Thnx dear, i was tensed what should be done
    gr8 help for me.
    thnx again Joe

  81. You should have this help connected to the Microsoft VISTA website. I tried to read through theirs and could not understand it. Read yours, works! Thank you!

  82. whew, Thank You – U R my hero – You really saved my day.

    Im running Vista business 64-bit / HP laptop. Vista downloads updates automatically, but i install them manuallly. Still, this morning Vista had installed automatically some updates with results as solved in this help.

    Thank You and greetings from Finland

  83. Thank you so much 🙂 I’m using Windows 7 RC and apart from a few registry differences, this helped me to solve the problem 🙂

    Took me hours and I still hadn’t got my computer working again:
    – Chkdsk /F from another partition – Vista
    – Startup repair using Win7 RC DVD
    – Defragmentation from another partition – Vista
    – Safe mode, tried to create another user, was blocked from that admin task 🙁

    And a few other things, and eventually found this while searching for a solution on my Vista boot.

    Thanks 🙂 Will be sharing this website on a forum I regularly post on.

    • Would you mind listing the registry differences?

      • Sorry, just had another look and realised that it is exactly the same.

        HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

        When I was going through the tutorial I couldn’t find what I was looking for under that path, so I used Ctrl+F to search for ‘ProfileList’ and found what I needed.

        I had a quick look at where it was and thought the ‘Windows NT’ folder had been omitted from the path, but as I said – having a proper look now – the path is the same.

        Thanks again 🙂

  84. Just had to say “thank you!!” All fixed – really helpful – easy to use guidance. A million thank yous!!

  85. Thanks heaps right on the money
    you save a reformat thanks again

  86. Just wanted to say thanks for your help. You save me from a lot of problems and long hours trying to figure this out for myself. This sucks though that this would happen. I can only trace it to the updates. I downloaded service pack 2 for Vista and I am before that I had no problems. Thanks again

    • Mine happened prior to service pack 2. The only thing I can think of is that my laptop didn’t hibernate or sleep completely when the battery died leaving the profile locked.

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