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Scary Windows error: Failure to log in to profile, loading of temp profile

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This morning I had a scary experience -- when i woke up and sat down to start work, my pc was at the login screen and when i tried to log in as my normal user, my desktop layout was completely changed, none of my startup apps ran, etc.  Then I saw an innocuous message in the system tray saying that my user profile could not be loaded and so a temp profile was created and loaded instead.

While this may sound like no big deal, what windows is really saying is: Something went badly wrong with your user files/registry and they are now corrupt and i don't even know how to let you start working..  It's better than a complete hd crash, but not much more informative.

After trying a few fixes found on the web along these lines:

None worked, and I had to RESTORE my last known good user profile from a restore point.


* The last good restore point was only a couple of days old.
* Since I just got back into town i have worked on the pc very very little since then.
* I also had a full backup before my trip out of town that I could (still can) restore from if need be.
* None of my important documents are actually in my C drive user profile so not end of world.
* I have online backup of my user profile stuff (crashplan).
But this reminds me:

* A severe HD crash and/or loss of data can happen at ANY TIME with NO WARNING.  Backup, and do it redundantly.

* I still have no idea why this happened -- that scares me.  Normally I replace the hd on first hint of HD corruption, but this is an expensive SSD and i still don't know if this was an HD issue or not.
Anyway, just a warning.. I've never seen this error before and I hope to never see it again.

I've had a similar experience, a couple of years ago, and a simple reboot cured it at that time, probably because I had previously (a couple of days before) installed some funky display-link drivers (those are funky by default :'().
System has been working just fine after that, but the backup reminder is very valid :Thmbsup:

Some other remarks:

I normally avoid (and warn people to stay away from) the System Restore stuff in Windows except as a very last resort -- I just don't trust it not to result in having some things restored to one version, and other files out of sync.
So I almost *ALWAYS* do a full system restore when I have a mystery situtation like this.
I may still do a full system restore -- but in this case it seemed like restoring just the User Profile to a point 2 days ago was pretty harmless, at least as a first try.
I may go back and try to figure out which file(s) got corrupted, if i can figure out how, using some file comparison tools.

Fyi here is my general recovery procedure when i encounter serious problems like this:
First, make sure you don't make situation WORSE, by making a full image of the BAD CORRUPT drive, if at all possible.  Put this someplace safe.
Second, if I am going to do a system restore from drive image / backup, do so on a NEW hd -- if you don't have a new hd you can use as your new hard drive, buy one.  If the restore is successful, this will be your new hd drive, and the suspicious one can go on the shelf marked as an untrustworthy backup.

I've had this happen before, and it wasn't anything as problematic as the drive or even needing to do a restore.  There was something in my profile that could not be accessed on startup, but needed to be accessed.

In my case, it was my antivirus.  That's when I finally got rid of AVG.  But a host of other things can cause it.

And as to system restore... it's saved my life more than a few times.  Enough that I trust it in my toolbox of things i have in my back pocket and hopefully never need.

There was something in my profile that could not be accessed on startup, but needed to be accessed.
--- End quote ---

that is infuriating that windows doesn't tell you WHAT in your profile is causing the problem!


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