Lost Profile Directory?

Microsoft Windows xp home sp2
October 22, 2009 at 14:15:36
Specs: Windows XP
Recently a friend had trouble with spontaneous laptop reboots, along with a prefetch error, and the disappearance of documents and photos. The prefetch error seems resolved and the custom documents folder re-linked, but the reboot happened again last night when running Outlook Express.

I was able to have a quick look at this computer recently, and it appears that the original profile folder in "documents and settings" was somehow deleted, and Windows generated a replacement ("user.ComputerBrand-2a4ca3..."), resulting in the loss of custom directory settings and the address book. There was also an extensionless file (maybe an ntuser.dat skeleton?) in that directory with the original profile name. Not sure if this is a source of trouble, but any ideas as to what happened? I'm thinking we could try a system restore first, but am I correct in assuming that wouldn't recover an address book? And could creating a new profile with the original name help? Thanks.

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October 22, 2009 at 15:31:21
neither would work.

It appears perhaps the owner did a repair install of the OS?

Considering the errors I was surprised not to see that chkdsk was not mentioned. You did run chkdsk /f to start with?

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October 22, 2009 at 19:22:35
Yes, chkdsk was run (unmentioned detail), and after that the prefetch error hasn't recurred. No repair install was done, only a Windows Update. And I suggested she make sure her Norton AV suite is up-to-date in case malicious code was involved. Haven't heard back yet.

The only reason I wondered about creating a new profile with the original name was for the potential benefit of any application that might still be trying to look in \Documents and Settings\username. Right now "username" is a file, not a folder, while the profile directory is now \Documents and Settings\username.ComputerBrand-2a4ca3....

The other option is to just rename the "username" file in Documents and Settings in case it's causing trouble. I already had her change the Outlook Express mail store location back to it's custom directory (on D:), and maybe that'll be enough. It just seemed fishy that she again encountered the reboot problem after launching OE, before we changed the mail store location.

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