Desktop and folder association with users broken after renaming user profile


arosko

New member
Local time
8:47 AM
Posts
5
Visit site
OS
Windows 11
I just bought my first Windows 11 computer. I had the issue--that many others are having--that Windows chooses its name for the profile folder based on your email rather than a chosen username. I used this guide to change it, which agrees with all the other sources I have found that this is the only way to rename that folder to agree with your username: How to Change the User Profile Folder Name in Windows 11.

I was able to edit the registry and rename the folder just fine while logged into the built-in administrator account. Now there is no folder in C:\Users with the old name that Windows auto-selected for me, and there is one with my actual username, as well as one with the name "Administrator" (which I assume belongs to the default administrator that I enabled) and the Default and Public folders. All my files are in the account with my username on it, so it would seem all is good--however when I log into my profile, I get a message that the desktop cannot be found, and none of my installed software is visible. I can still access my files inside my profile folder, I'm assuming because my user account (also) has administrator privileges and NOT because Windows actually has me logged in as that user (see below). Conversely, when I log in as the built-in administrator, my desktop (the one formerly associated with the profile whose folder name I changed) shows up! So somehow Windows seems to think that the renamed folder is the profile folder for the built-in administrator, despite the fact that the actual profile folder for the built in-administrator exists and is empty.

I double-checked the registry and it's in fact the key for the user with my username, NOT the "Administrator", whose value I changed. The path key in the account associated with the administrator still has C:\Users\Administrator showing as the path. What in the world could be going on??
 
Windows Build/Version
Windows 11 Home 21H2

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11

glasskuter

Well-known member
Pro User
VIP
Local time
10:47 AM
Posts
3,698
Location
Paris in the Lone Star State of Texas
Visit site
OS
Windows 11 Pro 22H2 22621.1413
Welcome to the forum. This may be a booger to fix. During original setup of Windows 11, more than likely you missed the step which selects where you want your user files to be stored. If you do not select "on this computer" Windows 11 now defaults the location of all your user files to be in onedrive under your Microsoft account. If you still had your original account, we could prove it, but as it is in such a mess I doubt we can. Since you were using a Microsoft account, you should not have tried to change the user account name through the registry because now all the associations in the registry are incorrect as well as permissions on the files..

We might can get your files into a new account, but it's still going to leave the hidden administrator account in a mess and possibly unusable in the future. I'll say up front, if it were me I would do a clean install and create a local account from the get-go. That said, you can try this.

1. login to the administrator account, Make sure you are not logged in to any other account.
Use an external drive. COPY (not move) the user folders from the administrator account and PASTE to the external drive. Copy only Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Saved Games, and Videos.

2. using the administrator account delete the account that you changed to

3.. using the administrator account, create a new local account with a name slightly different than your other account. Be sure to give this account administrative privileges

4. Log out of administrator and log in to your newly created local account. Windows will create a new desktop. COPY the PERSONAL FILES in the folders on the external drive and PASTE into the corresponding folders in the new account. Do not copy the folders, only the files and shortcuts inside them.

At this point verify that the files are accessible in the new account and that the shortcuts on the desktop give you access to all your apps. Once you are satisfied, log out of your new account and log back into administrator account.

5. Go into each of the folders in the administrator account and delete only your personal user files and folders. Do not delete the primary user folders in the administrator account nor any of the system folders such as appdata.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 22H2 22621.1413
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 m.2 2230-256+1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 21H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium

arosko

New member
Thread Starter
Local time
8:47 AM
Posts
5
Visit site
OS
Windows 11
Actually, I changed my user account from a Microsoft account to a local account as soon as I could, which was after logging in the first time. From what I could see, Windows 11 doesn't allow creation of a local account when setting up the computer--that was the reason for this whole mess in the first place. I made my account local and made sure that no folders were being backed up to OneDrive--in fact I considered uninstalling OneDrive completely and may still do so. Only when I had made a local account did I start installing software and copying files (using an external hard drive) from my old machine. Unfortunately, the one remaining problem was that while my username (at the login screen, etc.) was now what I wanted it to be, my profile folder still had the "old" name--hence where I was when I tried the above. I was about to set up some development environments where I was going to start setting absolute paths to things and before I did that, I figured that was the time for renaming my folder since doing it later would mess stuff up like crazy. Maybe I should have been clearer.

As I have no files on this machine that I don't have elsewhere, starting a brand new account would be doable, though annoying (as I'd have to re-install all software and re-copy the files I already copied in the last week or so). Plus I need to clear out the old one, so it doesn't take space on my hard drive. I somehow don't see how a clean install would help things unless I absolutely knew there was a way to create a local account in the initial setup, which I didn't see the first time. Even creating a new local account, I don't see how that would help. As you said, I'd have to name it something other than my username, and the whole purpose of this convoluted rigmarole of using the administrator account was to name the folder so that it has the same username on it that I've used on all my other machines. If I were to later rename it back using a similar procedure to what I already did, I can't see why the same thing wouldn't happen again.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11

glasskuter

Well-known member
Pro User
VIP
Local time
10:47 AM
Posts
3,698
Location
Paris in the Lone Star State of Texas
Visit site
OS
Windows 11 Pro 22H2 22621.1413
as I'd have to re-install all software a
No you won't. The software will still be there. When you copy the desktop shortcut from C:\users\administrator to external drive t and copy again o C:\users\newusername\desktop, the same shortcuts will lead you to the correct apps when accessed from your desktop.

I changed my user account from a Microsoft account to a local account as soon as I could,
If you did not do so, the proper way to change a MS account to a local account is from within settings>accounts>your info>sign in with a local account instead. Done this way, on your signin screen you will see whatever new name you choose. However, the name under c:\users\first5lettersofMSaccount will remain the same. It is normal.
When you started messing with the registry, either something was done incorrectly or it corrupted the account in some way. I have no way of knowing what happened. I'm just trying to help you get straightened out without clean installing.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 22H2 22621.1413
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 m.2 2230-256+1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 21H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium

arosko

New member
Thread Starter
Local time
8:47 AM
Posts
5
Visit site
OS
Windows 11
I am aware that you're trying to help. I guess I'm a bit confused still as firstly it sounds like your steps still won't get me to where I want to be, and also some steps might conflict with each other (particularly 2 and 5). And in fact I've looked closer and things seem to be even more corrupted than I thought (see 3rd paragraph below).
If you did not do so, the proper way to change a MS account to a local account is from within settings>accounts>your info>sign in with a local account instead. Done this way, on your signin screen you will see whatever new name you choose. However, the name under c:\users\first5lettersofMSaccount will remain the same. It is normal.
I DID do exactly this, and that's exactly what happened. So, after this step, I had C:\Users\first5lettersofMSaccount (as you put it) as the only folder in C:\Users except for Default and Public, and yet when I went to sign in, I chose "MyLocalUsername" to get to the files.

Then I enabled and logged into the Administrator account and edited that one registry key specified in the guide I linked. I also renamed C:\Users\first5lettersofMSaccount (which had all the user data that I want) to C:\MyLocalUsername, which is still where the files are. So C:\Users\first5lettersofMSaccount doesn't exist anymore, and my files are in C:\MyLocalUsername, which is what I wanted. The problem is that the "MyLocalUsername" account does not seem to be linked to the C:\MyLocalUsername folder.

I said that the files seem to be associated with the Administrator account, but on further looking, that is only a small part true. Only the desktop (with its shortcuts) from in C:\MyLocalUsername is associated with the Administrator account, in that it appears as the desktop when I log in as Administrator (but NOT when I log in as MyLocalUsername). When I go to the file explorer and navigate directly to Documents, Downloads, etc., when logged in as EITHER MyLocalUsername OR Administrator, my files aren't there--however the behavior is different in the two cases. As MyLocalUsername, I get a message that C:\Users\first5lettersofMSaccount\Documents (or Downloads, etc.) isn't found--whereas as Administrator, the folders are just empty (as they should be--given that I haven't done anything with the Administrator account except for the registry editing and renaming). It's only when I explicitly navigate to C:\ -> Users -> MyLocalUsername -> Documents that I see (and can open) my files--and I can do this regardless of which user I'm logged in as. So it's as if C:\Users\MyLocalUsername, aside from the desktop, is just somehow "floating in space" and not associated with an actual user.

To summarize concisely, here's what it looks like:
From the point of view of the registry:
-Administrator has profile path C:\Users\Administrator
-MyLocalUsername has profile path C:\Users\MyLocalUsername
From the point of view of where Windows actually looks:
-Administrator looks in C:\Users\MyLocalUsername for the Desktop/icons, but elsewhere for all other folders (I'm guessing that's correctly in C:\Users\Administrator, but I haven't tried placing a dummy file there to see if it shows up)
-MyLocalUsername looks in C:\Users\first5lettersofMSaccount (which doesn't exist now) for everything
-Neither user considers C:\Users\MyLocalUsername\Documents (or \Downloads, etc.) to be "its" Documents (etc.) folder. However, this is where all my files are--and where I ideally would have them in the end.

So going to your steps, I understand it as:
1. Copy files from C:\Users\MyLocalUsername (which isn't properly "from the administrator account", as this account doesn't act like it "owns" this folder, aside from Desktop) to an external hard drive.

2. Delete the "MyLocalUsername" account. I assume that when you delete an account, Windows tries to delete the
associated folders. I imagine there are only two ways this can go, and which it is depends on stuff I don't understand. Either A) Windows follows the registry association and deletes C:\Users\MyLocalUsername, or else B) it behaves the same as it does when I actually log into the account, and tries to access--and delete--the non-existent C:\Users\first5lettersofMSaccount (and I have no idea what possible mess this would cause)

3. Create a new local user with a slightly different name, say "MyLocalUsername2", which will presumably create a C:\Users\MyLocalUsername2 folder.

4. Copy the folders of my files on the external drive from Step 1 into the new C:\Users\MyLocalUsername2 folder

5. What this even means depends on whether Step 2 resulted in outcome A) or B). In case A), all personal files (that were originally on the computer--ignoring the newly moved back copies in the new account) are already gone and there's nowhere to delete them from. In case B), the C:\Users\MyLocalUsername folder still exists and the files are still in it, so I'm guessing you mean to delete all folders of personal files from inside that (but NOT C:\Users\MyLocalUsername itself, or any system folders therein).

The best I can see this resulting in is that I now have an account under the username MyLocalUsername2, with a folder in C:\Users whose name matches (but neither actually matches what I wanted)--and just as importantly that there may be a C:\Users\MyLocalUsername folder still there to perpetually risk confusing me into putting stuff there. The worst I can see is that this further screws things up.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11

Berton

Well-known member
Power User
VIP
Local time
9:47 AM
Posts
1,837
Location
Buffalo, Wyoming
Visit site
OS
Win11 Pro RTM
All 3 of my Win11 computers, Pro Desktop, Home Desktop and Pro Notebook. were set up as Local Accounts with Administrator rights but NOT while connected to the Internet [Wireless DSL PoE Modem was actually turned off]. Haven't had any issues in over a year.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Win11 Pro RTM
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Vostro 14 (3400)
    CPU
    Intel Core i5 11th Gen. 2.40GHz
    Memory
    12GB
    Hard Drives
    256GB SSD NVMe
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro RTM x64
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Vostro 5890
    CPU
    Intel Core i5 10th Gen. 2.90GHz
    Memory
    16GB
    Graphics card(s)
    Onboard, no VGA, using a DisplayPort-to-VGA adapter
    Monitor(s) Displays
    24" Dell
    Hard Drives
    512GB SSD NVMe, 2TB WDC HDD
    Browser
    Firefox, Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender/Microsoft Security

glasskuter

Well-known member
Pro User
VIP
Local time
10:47 AM
Posts
3,698
Location
Paris in the Lone Star State of Texas
Visit site
OS
Windows 11 Pro 22H2 22621.1413
The important thing is that from whichever account you have access to your personal files (including your desktop ) COPY them to an external drive. This is to ensure you can get these files back even if you have to reinstall windows to straighten this mess out. I think that is what your should do...a clean install. While you are at it, make a list of your programs. It's totally messed up and at this point who knows what else is messed up. Believe me, I know how time consuming reinstalling everything is. I have done it many times, but look at all the time you have spent trying to straighten this out. If you want a clean windows installation, just bite the bullet and do it.
You CAN do a clean install using a local account. To set up a local account make sure your internet is disconnected. Skip from step 16 to step 21d. Follow this tutorial exactly


I strongly suggest you develop a backup solution once you get this straightened out. Had you had a backup image available you could have recovered within 15 minutes.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 22H2 22621.1413
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 m.2 2230-256+1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 21H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium

arosko

New member
Thread Starter
Local time
8:47 AM
Posts
5
Visit site
OS
Windows 11
The worry is not that personal files will be irretrievably lost. I was still in the progress of migrating from my old machine to this new computer, and hadn't done any actual work on it yet, so nearly all files that are on this machine were copied verbatim from the other machine, and also remain either on the external hard drive, on the old machine, or both (the remainder, a few pictures that I put directly on there to test the brightness of the new screen, I have also backed up onto the external HD). In the interest of saving time, however, I am still backing up (i.e. copying) the contents of the personal folders from the new machine on the external HD as well, since a decent part of the time-consuming stuff was deciding what files I could afford to NOT transfer in order to save space on the new computer's internal HD--this way I avoid doing that again.

I was unaware that I could set up a local account rather than a Microsoft one when setting up the computer--and it seems from reading that all ways to do this involve in some way "tricking" the setup wizard and not actually using options that are provided. Even had I known about them, I may well have considered it too likely that I'd create a mess (as the trickery to do something as simple as re-name a folder seems to have done).

My concern, rather than with my own files, is to not do anything that will jeopardize the warranty/serviceability (and functionality) of this computer--it's a brand new laptop I just bought recently that came with Windows 11 installed and I can't afford to start off with Windows already riddled with problems. I've looked (here on elevenforum) about how to re-install Windows and even that involves things like changing BIOS settings, the last thing I want is that I reinstall Windows incorrectly and down the line I find out that the Windows I have is showing up as not genuine, or not licensed to me, or the wrong version for this computer or something like that and the computer becomes unsupportable.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11

glasskuter

Well-known member
Pro User
VIP
Local time
10:47 AM
Posts
3,698
Location
Paris in the Lone Star State of Texas
Visit site
OS
Windows 11 Pro 22H2 22621.1413
If it is brand new then it should have a factory recovery partition without the need of clean installing windows. You can reset it back to factory default, then create a MS account during setup just like you did when you took it out of the box ( Once Windows boots to your desktop, you can then change to a local account in settings>accounts. However, even though you end up with a local account, in C:\users your user name WILL remain the first 5 letters of your email address, but your user name on the login screen will be whatever local account user name you choose..

How to Reset
Settings>system>recovery>reset PC>remove everything>local reinstall>Next>Reset
In choosing your options make sure it looks like this.
0001.jpg

0002.jpg

It will retain all drivers and apps pre-installed by the manufacturer

During account setup be sure to choose "save files to this PC" option rather than Onedrive..

1663080952699.png
 
Last edited:

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 22H2 22621.1413
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 m.2 2230-256+1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 21H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium

arosko

New member
Thread Starter
Local time
8:47 AM
Posts
5
Visit site
OS
Windows 11
All 3 of my Win11 computers, Pro Desktop, Home Desktop and Pro Notebook. were set up as Local Accounts with Administrator rights but NOT while connected to the Internet [Wireless DSL PoE Modem was actually turned off]. Haven't had any issues in over a year.
So if I reset Windows to the default state and then set it up again when it's out of range of an Internet connection, it will let me choose a local account from the beginning?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11

glasskuter

Well-known member
Pro User
VIP
Local time
10:47 AM
Posts
3,698
Location
Paris in the Lone Star State of Texas
Visit site
OS
Windows 11 Pro 22H2 22621.1413
So if I reset Windows to the default state and then set it up again when it's out of range of an Internet connection, it will let me choose a local account from the beginning?
No, it will not. That trick only works with a clean install.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 22H2 22621.1413
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 7080
    CPU
    i9-10900 10 core 20 threads
    Motherboard
    DELL 0J37VM
    Memory
    32 gb
    Graphics Card(s)
    none-Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 m.2 2230-256+1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell Premium
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Internet Speed
    so slow I'm too embarrassed to tell
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium
  • Operating System
    Windows 10 Pro 21H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Optiplex 9020
    CPU
    i7-4770
    Memory
    24 gb
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Benq 27
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    256 gb Toshiba BG4 M.2 NVE SSB and 1 tb hdd
    PSU
    500w
    Case
    MT
    Cooling
    Dell factory
    Mouse
    Logitech wireless
    Keyboard
    Logitech wired
    Internet Speed
    still not telling
    Browser
    Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender+MWB Premium

Latest Support Threads

Top Bottom