Error Message Explained: User Profile Service Failed the Logon

This article is part of Helge’s Profile Toolkit, a set of posts explaining the knowledge and tools required to tame Windows user profiles.

Many errors related to user profiles result in the user getting a temporary profile instead of the regular local or roaming profile. I have written about possible causes for that here. In addition to that there is an entirely different category of errors which occur when even a temporary profile cannot be created. This article describes likely causes.

User Profile Service Failed the Logon

When Windows cannot even create a temporary profile you get to see the following error message:

User profile service failed the logon - user profile cannot be loaded

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

This typically happens when the default profile, stored in C:\Users\Default, has incorrect permissions or is corrupt in some way.

Default Profile Permissions

If all is well, the directory C:\Users\Default inherits permissions from its parent folder, C:\Users. This results in SYSTEM and Admninistrators having full control, while Users and Everyone have read permissions. In SetACL Studio this looks as follows:

Default profile permissions in SetACL Studio

The permissions for SYSTEM and Administrators are not relevant, but if for some reason the user logging on does not have read permissions on C:\Users\Default the error message User Profile Service Failed the Logon will be displayed and logging on is not possible.

When this happens the user profile service logs an event with ID 1509 and source User Profile General in the application event log:

Windows cannot copy file \\?\C:\Users\Default\ to location \\?\C:\Users\username\. This error may be caused by network problems or insufficient security rights. 
DETAIL - Access is denied.

Default Profile Corrupt

Logon is not possible, either, if the default profile’s NTUSER.DAT file is nonexistent or corrupt.

If NTUSER.DAT does not exist the user profile service logs an event with ID 1500 and source User Profile Service in the application event log:

Windows cannot log you on because your profile cannot be loaded. Check that you are connected to the network, and that your network is functioning correctly. 
DETAIL - The system cannot find the file specified.

If, on the other hand, NTUSER.DAT is corrupt the user profile service logs an event with ID 1508 and source User Profile Service in the application event log:

Windows was unable to load the registry. This problem is often caused by insufficient memory or insufficient security rights. 
DETAIL - The system has attempted to load or restore a file into the registry, but the specified file is not in a registry file format.
for C:\Users\username\ntuser.dat
Fixing a Corrupt Default Profile

The easiest way to fix a corrupt default profile is to delete the content of C:\Users\Default and copy it from a working system. Make sure, though, that the machine you copy from has the same operating system version and language.

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37 Responses to Error Message Explained: User Profile Service Failed the Logon

  1. Peter October 9, 2013 at 13:03 #

    Thank you so so much. This has solved my problem. my default user must have been corrupt. I have tried the regedit but I could not find the profile that could not logon in the list. so this is the only way that my problem was solved. I got a working good default user from another computer. obvious one with settings I would want in my profile since it picks settings from default user on first logon.

  2. SKawarz October 17, 2013 at 16:42 #

    Thank you so much for this solution. my situation is same with Peter. how can i imagine the default user files have been corrupted. this absolutely make my day. thank you very much.

  3. Syrett October 25, 2013 at 10:31 #

    Very useful.Appreciate your solution.

  4. Tillman November 7, 2013 at 15:29 #

    This worked! I work in a domain environment and I deleted the windows 7 profile from Registry, but was unable to rename the users profile. I had to decimate the profile to get it renamed so we could create a new profile to fix her errors.

    To my horror at 5:00 pm. the user called me and said she can’t get onto her computer so I spend an hour and a half trying to fix it before I gave up for the day. The next day I found your post and boom it works.


  5. Randy November 16, 2013 at 00:34 #

    Domain environment here also. I wonder why this would happen to several computers in the domain? All of a sudden we have several computers with this issue in the past month. Windows update cause this?

  6. Paul November 18, 2013 at 16:28 #

    Hi. I have this message shown above ie ‘The User Profile Service failed the logon’.
    I have no other computer to copy the file from.
    Do you have any other way I can resolve this please……………???????

    PS had a load of MS updates last week but nothing out of the ordinary otherwise.

  7. Debbie November 19, 2013 at 20:45 #

    Thanks for the solution – nothing else I tried worked and yet this is so easy. I agree with Randy – I’ve never seen this before and suddenly it shows up on several computers?

  8. Jagan - IT November 25, 2013 at 20:17 #

    Thanks lot for u….It’s working u saved my time.

    Jagan . A Support Engg – IT
    SourceHOV, Chennai, INDIA
    Mobile: +91 9500580466

  9. John Gaeng November 26, 2013 at 03:23 #

    It worked for me! Thank you so much for taking the time to share the fix.

  10. Francisco Queiroga December 2, 2013 at 21:12 #

    Thank you! You save me.

  11. David Johnson December 30, 2013 at 20:12 #

    Thanks for that! This fixed my issue if you look anywhere else everyone talks about messing with the registry. Not applicable in my situation due to my issue was coming from a domain thing. Anyways the permissions were set wrong and that fixed it right up good on ya


  12. Ian January 12, 2014 at 07:35 #

    This pointed me in the right direction. A recent (Jan 2014) Windows update appears to create a couple of new files in the Default profile structure. These don’t have the same Perms as the other files (missing ‘Everyone’ | Read). I added the perm and can now logon. Thanks!

    The files were:

    Thanks again.

  13. Patty January 16, 2014 at 21:57 #

    You are awesome! It worked.

  14. Chris January 31, 2014 at 23:09 #

    OMG I searched all over the internet. Microsost support gave me some B.S. This is the only thing that worked. After two reinstall of windows I think Ian must be right. It is the damn update!

  15. Sheila February 13, 2014 at 21:51 #

    I don’t even have a clue with what you just said here. Glad it’s working for people who are intimate with their computer, but it’s a machine to me. I trust folks to build it to work, and I use it and try to take care of it. I can log in to other non-administrator profiles, but not mine, the administrator. Crazy. And poor me only has one computer.

  16. Tracy February 19, 2014 at 09:06 #

    Excellent post – I’d been searching for hours with no solutions working & this helped solve our problem with the Default user profile being the cause. Thank you very much for sharing!

  17. apc February 19, 2014 at 19:35 #

    replacing the corrupt default profile fixed it for me. thank you for sharing!

  18. EmpireFleet April 30, 2014 at 10:55 #

    Great stuff! The replacement worked like a charm. Thanks.

  19. Tom May 5, 2014 at 01:00 #

    I have been working on this issue for the past two to three hours and you saved the day, Thank you Very much!

  20. Michael June 10, 2014 at 16:13 #

    This worked like a charm!!! Thanks

  21. Saumil June 16, 2014 at 12:04 #

    Awesome link. that resolved a long lasted issue for me

  22. PRASHANT PANDYA July 9, 2014 at 04:30 #


  23. monty July 17, 2014 at 17:54 #

    Thanks a lot for your help. I had this issue reported by one of my employee and I tried all I could , Microsoft support site, spiceworks etc.. but in vain. Out of frustration and time, I reinstalled the win 7 OS as I had to ship the laptop by COB, here it goes again. I wonder why it get corrupted at 1st place, just want to know.
    You are great help.. God bless you !!!!

  24. Oliver Foxley August 6, 2014 at 19:29 #

    Just do a startup repair, a function natively built into the windows boot options or accessible from the windows disc – works everytime for me, it’s less faff, less dangerous and you don’t lose shortcuts off your desktop etc this way either.

  25. Fillogio September 19, 2014 at 13:52 #

    I <3 you…

    Was making me crazy, tnx ;-)

  26. Achim Kretschmer September 25, 2014 at 17:26 #

    This fix is great in a workgroup environment, however we encountered this issue on a domain level. We solved it by adjusting our GPO with the additional setting of “authenticated Users” in the default user profile.

    The path for this setting in your GPO is: Computer configuration/policies/windows settings/security settings/file system/

    In %SystemDrive%\Users\Default add NT Authority\Authenticated Users with Full Control permission

    After it was pushed down, all users that previously had this issue were able top log on

  27. Frustrated November 18, 2014 at 23:45 #

    Thanks a million!
    Was driving me on the walls as well!

  28. Ray November 21, 2014 at 19:20 #

    Thank you for this article. Was just what I needed to fix the error.

  29. Jason November 26, 2014 at 16:28 #

    This error happened after I deployed ie11 to my network. IE11 install places some files in the default user profile and this causes the issue. Here is a MSDN blog about the specifics of the issue.

  30. Sonya Purdy December 18, 2014 at 16:00 #

    I had the user profile issue and did the regedit fix. This fixed the issue for the user profile that was not able to be accessed but then I lost my 2nd admin user profile. I went into the regedit and it is still listed but not showing up on boot up. what can I do to get it back?

  31. santosh January 23, 2015 at 07:58 #

    Thanks buddy,

    tried on Microsoft site for solution and couldn’t found any. You saved my Day…

  32. Miriam January 29, 2015 at 02:06 #


  33. Chris March 2, 2015 at 20:40 #

    What do you do if the user has never logged on to the machine before and you’re getting this error?

    • Greg March 18, 2015 at 05:48 #

      My scenario was the same as yours. Follow this step from above, “The easiest way to fix a corrupt default profile is to delete the content of C:\Users\Default and copy it from a working system. Make sure, though, that the machine you copy from has the same operating system version and language.”

  34. Greg March 18, 2015 at 05:45 #

    This was a huge help. I had never dealt with a corrupted “Default” directory before. I am glad it was so simple. Thank you!

  35. Mark March 19, 2015 at 00:02 #

    Absolutely worked.

    2012 R2 domain environment, BRAND NEW user profile created in AD, and could not login although previously existing user profiles had no problem.

    Deleted contents of C:UsersDefault and copied from a known good working server that I validated user in question could login.. copied the files back locally and it worked. THANK YOU!!!

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