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// Tales from software development

A quick fix for when a corrupt user profile slows Windows down

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For no obvious reason my development PC has slowed down noticably over the past few days. Just opening Windows Explorer can take 10 seconds or longer where it previously opened instantaneously. Visual Studio 2010 took up to a minute to start and Internet Explorer was becoming almost unusable.

I couldn’t think of anything that I’d installed in the past few weeks that might be causing the problem although I had just installed Visual Studio 2010 SP1 after several attempts.

I ran SysInternals Process Explorer and whenever the PC was running very slowly I looked at the processes currently executing but there was no obvious culprit to explain why Windows was performing so poorly. Later I restarted the PC after applying some Windows Updates and noticed that Windows took a long time to logoff. The ‘Saving user settings’ message was displayed for more than five minutes. This triggered a vague memory – a corrupt user profile often slows the Windows logoff process. Could it also explain why Windows was running so slowly ?

When Windows restarted I logged in using a local administrator account and found that Windows was running at its normal speed for this PC. I logged off and logged in again using my usual account and found that Windows was running slowly again.

I googled ‘corrupt windows user profile’ and the general advice is that a new Windows account needs to be created, then user files need to be copied from the old profile to the new profile, and finally the old account should be deleted.

But I remembered having a similar problem a few years ago that appeared to be resolved simply by creating a new account. It appeared that this was sufficient to cause Windows to fix the corrupt Windows profile. I’m guessing that creating a new account causes Windows to rewrite the user profile hive.

I logged off and logged in again using a local administrator account and created a new account. When I logged off and back in using my usual account (not the new one) everything seemed to be back to normal and Windows was running as quickly as I’d expect.

I’m sure there are circumstances where this minimal approach to fixing a currupt user profile won’t work but it’s worth a try…


Written by Sea Monkey

April 13, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Environments

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