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Windows 10 profile problems

Posted by on January 16, 2017.

I run Windows 10 Pro. I’m really getting to hate it.

Latest issue: not being able to get the profile (that is, the local account or desktop) up and running.

A couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t log on to my account. When I did, I’d either get a blank, black(ish) screen, or the little circle of spinning dots running forever. At that time, rebooting the machine (which involved pulling the plug) and letting it sit overnight seemed to solve the problem. (How? I have no idea. It’s Microsoft Windows. It never tells you anything.)

(I perhaps should mention that this is *not* the issue with a “User Profile Service Failed the logon” error message. I haven’t seen that message.)

Now the problem is with Gloria’s account. Mine is working. (I wouldn’t say fine. It refused to update some software a couple of days ago, and it refused to finish a backup yesterday. It’s Windows.) When I try to switch to her account, I get a blank, black screen. When I try to shut down, the machine never completes a shutdown (probably because her account is still running). (I’ve tried to address this various ways. I’ve even gone to Task Manager and forcibly signed out her account. Regardless of how I try it, I can’t get a “shutdown” to work: from within my account nothing happens, from the “lock” screen the spinning circle of dots just runs forever.) I’ve pulled the plug and rebooted several times over the past three days: that no longer works as a fix.

I’ve tried the advice on fixing a corrupt user profile at:
http://www.techbout.com/fix-corrupt-user-profile-windows-10-9139/
(The refcount was 2, and I changed it back to zero. No change.)

(http://www.itpro.co.uk/operating-systems/25802/15-windows-10-problems-and-how-to-fix-them-5 had some interesting things I might want to try, but nothing that seems to address the current issue. One issue I won’t be trying out is the advice to turn off forced updates: I’ve been through that, and know that Microsoft has now completely removed that option.)

I’ve created a new user profile in order to try and copy some stuff over. Trying to log onto it after simply creating it, the spinning circle of dots just seemed to be running forever. I switched back to my own account for a while, and then tried to get back to the new account. Now IT presents a blank, black screen. (I haven’t copied over any materials yet, so that isn’t the problem.)

Windows *&$%*#@&% 10.

Microsoft does mention a black screen (at
https://support.microsoft.com/en-ca/help/14106/windows-10-troubleshoot-black-screen-problems )
I tried the Win-CTRL-SHIFT-B, and it does prompt some kind of activity, but it’s just the screen going momentarily blacker, and then back to the same blank, black state as before. (This is the same on Gloria’s original account, and the new one.)

I’ve received a bit of feedback:

To cut a long story short, Windows 10 had decided to boot with the screen set to “Extended” mode, with the Thinkpad’s internal screen as the *secondary* display. The primary display was nowhere to be found – it didn’t seem to be on either the VGA or HDMI outputs. I don’t know how I finally fixed it – I was doing things like logging in via the fingerprint reader (so no typing required), then pressing Fn+F7 to activate the Windows display projection options and pressing the up and down arrow keys and Enter – but with the internal display still being secondary, all I succeeded in doing was disabling the display totally and leaving it blank.

I think I did something like that with one of my old Toshiba laptops. Must get around to trying to fix it one of these days. In the present case that is interesting, but probably not the problem, since this is a desktop. However, I do have an HDMI display, so that is something to consider.

I suspect that for some reason, removing and reinserting the main lithium battery caused some kind of reset and it finally rebooted normally.

As mentioned, shutdown and restart just run forever, so rebooting now involves crawling under the desk and pulling the plug. Sometimes that fixes things: sort of, and temporarily. Yesterday I did manage to to get the machine to do a normal shutdown, which I considered a victory, of sorts. Until the next time I restarted it, and found that *ALL* my accounts/desktops/profiles were blank/black. (Oh, and, yes, the definition of blank/black does include having a cursor on screen–but while it does move, it doesn’t do anything.) I had a rather terrifying five reboots in a row before I finally got a working screen back. (For some reason, leaving the computer powered off for some hours seems to have better success at recovering a screen than just immediately rebooting, although that may just be a “superstitious learning” observation since I have no idea why leaving an unpowered machine alone for a few hours would be any better than 10 seconds.) (At the moment, having finally recovered a working screen, I’m timidly doing very little, not trying Gloria’s desktop at all, until I catch up on a bit of email and some new ideas.)

If only Windows 10 had the simply “safe mode” boot option of previous versions, I could probably have fixed the problem quite quickly. But as it is, you have to boot to a graphical login screen before you can reboot in safe mode, so it wasn’t an option.

Amen to that. I keep seeing the reference to booting in safe mode, except that involves holding down some key sequence while hitting the restart option–and, of course, the restart option just gives the infinite spinning circle of dots …

Thinkpads now come with Windows 10 Home as standard, and you have to buy an upgrade from the Windows Store – which involves creating a Microsoft account. After that’s done, the OS informs you that, from now on, you will log into your machine using your Microsoft ID. Screw that – I’m using the Pro edition so I can log in to my domain without telling Microsoft everything I’m doing. It takes a little effort to revert to using a local or domain account and restoring a modicum of privacy.

I think if you go into Settings and Accounts you can change that. And, of course, you can always create a new admin account that doesn’t rely on a Microsoft ID–as long as you can create one that doesn’t just leave you with a blank/black screen …


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Submitted in: Perspectives, Rob Slade |