Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums

Owner's profile hosed, all roads to repair blocked

  1. #11

    Can't say which version of WinPE it's built with.
    If it is based on "WinPE 4", you will see the new blue color ugly logo of Windows when the PE is loading. If it is based on "WinPE 3.1" ,you will see either "Win 7" logo or "Vista" loading bar.

    Besides that, "WinPE 4 x64" is "SecureBoot" compatible so it will boot fine without enabling legacy/CSM mode in BIOS.

    Checking the mountvol page on technet I see there's an /e switch ("Re-enables automatic mounting of new basic volumes") which I guess is what preserves it across reboots. I'll try it that way later on.
    I never used the "e" switch before so i am too waiting for the result. Usually i always use "WinPE 4" to do this type of work. As "WinPE" is not accessing the contents of ESP, you won't face any issues in running CHKDSK ( i even managed to format the ESP from a "WinPE" ).

    You can obtain a "WinPE 4" easily by one of the below methods ( without downloading WAIK or ADK ).

    - Run Macrium PE builder and create a PE media with "WinPE x64" as base.

    - Create a "System Repair Disc" or "Recovery Drive" (USB ) from a working "Windows 8" machine.

    - Run SIW2's "Simple Winpe Maker" ( x64 ) from a working "Windows 8" machine and it will create a special version of "System Repair Disc". In addition to standard Microsoft tools included in the "Recovery Environment" , this tool will add "Macrium Free" , "Partition Wizard" etc to the recovery disc if any of the tools are found installed on the build machine.

    new versions of simple winpe maker - Windows 7 Help Forums

    Btw, if memory serves correctly, you should boot the PE in "UEFI" mode to mount the ESP and work with it.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #12

    Posts : 9
    many, Apple II DOS through Mint Linux

    Department of long-winded updates:

    This sure has been one of those damned learning experiences that I try so hard to avoid :-)

    I did at last get a safety backup of the laptop in its initial state. What it has is Windows 8.0 which is still, according to several tutorials I found, supposed to have Win 7 (and earlier) style Windows Backup and Restore. In 8.0 it's supposed to be called "Windows 7 File Recovery" on the theory that people will need it to migrate files backed up on Win 7 systems to Win 8. It's supposed to appear down in the lower left corner of the Control Panel>System and Security>File History page.

    Only it wasn't there, which is why I originally tried to do my safety image with that Macrium Reflect boot CD (WinPE) and then a Clonezilla Live CD (Linux) and ran into various problems. So I revisited Win 8 File History. It's turned off by default and that's the way I found it. So, thinks I, if I act like a good compliant citizen and turn File History on the way MS clearly thinks I should, will they in return give me Windows 7 File Recovery? I can always turn it off again afterward (crafty chuckle). So I did, and it worked, there's Windows 7 File Recovery where the tuts said it was, and I got my system image on external USB HD. And turned File History off again. What's more, Windows 7 File Recovery is still there now even though File History is off. I'll mention File History to the laptop owners because it does seem like a good idea, but it requires that an external HD be plugged in most of the time as space for the ongoing backups, and they can't have mine. It's not even their birthday.

    Re. Clonezilla, the brick wall there was that (in basic mode, anyway) it would not image partitions with the dirty bit set. On this laptop it was the EFI System Partition (which has no drive letter) that was marked dirty. And you absolutely do want to include that partition in any Win 8 system image. And there doesn't seem to be any way to unset the dirty bit in Windows except to run chkdsk. Which would have to run as a scheduled chkdsk at bootup because that volume is locked up tight while Windows is running (see earlier messages for scary warnings). No drive letter, no chkdsk. No drive letter that persists across reboots, no scheduled chkdsk. For folks who are eager to use clonezilla in this situation I did find a note dated 2007 in the clonezilla changelog and saying "now it's possible to force to save ntfs filesystem even if it's dirty if user want to do that." But I can't tell you how to do it; plus if it's the EFI System Partition that's dirty, as in my case, that's not ntfs, it's FAT32 (known as vfat in the Linux world) and the note doesn't promise to image dirty vfat filesystems. Just sayin'.

    I did not attempt giving the drive a letter in diskmgmt.msc or in diskpart. With no system backup at that point I was very reluctant to experiment. Though with Anshad Edavana looking on benevolently I did try assigning a letter with mountvol. Here's the skinny on that.

    mountvol usually wants that long volume GUID (e.g. \\?\Volume{5d9c5bee-6134-11e3-90d5-806d6172696f}\) as an argument, but the EFI System Partition is a special case. You can just do "mountvol S: /s" as Anshad said, and you get "The EFI System Partition is mounted as S:" as output. Special notes:

    1. mountvol run without any arguments prints out the short help text and also lists the GUIDS of all the drives you have on the system. Including the hidden ones without letters, like the little WinRE recovery partition on Win 8 systems. EXCEPT, it does NOT print out the GUID of the EFI System Partition, which is nowhere to be found in the list. Maybe that's because in a GUID partition table that partition always has the same GUID, namely C12A7328-F81F-11D2-BA4B-00A0C93EC93B. But see 3. below

    2. A drive letter assigned to the EFI partition by mountvol does NOT persist across reboots. When the system comes back up the drive letter is gone. It's lost at once on shutdown, which means it's not there when a scheduled chkdsk is supposed to run, which means no scheduled chkdsk. This seems to make the EFI partition a special case because letters assigned to ordinary drives DO persist. (mountvol wouldn't be too much use on servers if they didn't, would it?) There isn't any switch to force it to persist, either. (Anshad, /e doesn't do it.)

    3. mountvol S: /s did not work for me when issued from an elevated command prompt, if that command prompt was started using a boot CD (like the Macrium Reflect WinPE bootdisk mentioned earlier, which offers both a command prompt and Explorer (otherwise very useful and I'll remember they're there.) In that kind of command window mountvol S: /s just returns an error ("The parameter is incorrect.") The other mountvol systax, using the GUID string of the EFI partition, returns the same error.

    >mountvol S: \\?\Volume{C12A7328-F81F-11D2-BA4B-00A0C93EC93B}\
    The parameter is incorrect.

    It makes sense that the /s switch would not work, since the partition I wanted to mount is not "the" EFI partition of the CURRENT system, as booted from CD. OTOH all the other GUIDs reported by mountvol are exactly the same whether it's run from a boot CD command window or from native Win 8. So the fact that you can't use mountvol with the invariant EFI partition GUID as argument was a surprise. This little (but critical) volume appears to be all kinds of a special case annoyance.

    At any rate I have my safety image courtesy of Windows Backup (which is not at all snobbish about filesystem dirty bits, it's apparently willing to back up any old sh*t the user feeds it. That IMHO is correct behavior for a backup program. Warn as much as you like, but don't just barf and refuse.) And all my other partitions are chkdsk'd and clean. Time to try to make the complaining user a new profile that looks as much like her old profile as I can make it.

    Chev65, your link to the profile-copying tutorial popped up at just the right moment. Thanks very much.

    tl;dr version of the fix-a-profile tutorial:

    = On as an administrative account
    = set Windows to show all files and hide none
    = create <newuser> account
    = go to <olduser>'s profile folder
    = copy everything EXCEPT Ntuser.*
    = paste all that into <newuser>'s profile folder, C:\Users\<newuser>\.
    = delete <olduser>

    To that I would add only to remember that there won't be any C:\Users\<newuser>\ folder until <newuser> has logged in at least once. Then it will exist but also will be full of all the default profile stuff given to every new user.

    (Note, there is a Microsoft page at Fix a corrupted user profile - Microsoft Windows Help that says almost exactly the same thing, but it's for Win 7.)

    That's great as far as it goes but many of the things in <olduser>'s profile will NOT copy cleanly. I am logged in as the hidden Administrator user, which I have activated, and in Safe Mode. Detailed blow-by-blow follows.

    1. <olduser> has what looks like a shortcut to \All Users\. This didn't copy like an ordinary shortcut. I believe it's one of those Windows namespace funnyfiles that are not what you think they are, and do funny things. When I tried pasting it into <newuser>'s profile I got "...copying 11,545 items..." What <newuser> was getting was not a shortcut but an actual copy of \All Users\. And after a while I got a warning "The destination already contains a folder named 'All Users.' Do you want..." OMG we're in some kind of recursive loop, CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL before I blow up the master file table. I deleted this and felt lucky to be able to do so. <olduser> may have a copy of \All Users\ but <newuser> isn't getting one.

    2. \AppData\ -- this is created in everybody's default profile so I guess it's OK. Copying and pasting resulted in bunches of warnings, though. "The destination path is too long" for some files (Hey here we are in 2014 and explorer apparently still has the same-old same-old 254-character path+filename limit. Not surprised.) "You need permission from the computer's administrator to make changes to this file." (For DF0ABiFC44CC5EAC77.TMP, size 0 bytes, and lots of others like it.) So it went. Skipped copying all of these, checked [x] do the same for all. And even with the skipped files, <olduser>'s \AppData\ is 1.09 GB but <newuser>'s copy has grown to 1.28 GB.

    3. \Application Data\ -- "You need permission from NTAUTHORITY\SYSTEM to make changes to this folder." Would not copy.

    4. Contacts -- "Already exists in destination, do you want to merge?" No, I want to completely overwrite. Not an offered choice, though. OK, go ahead.

    5. Cookies -- one of those apparent shortcuts that aren't. In this case upon pasting nothing happened at all, not even an "already exists" warning, just nothing.

    6. Desktop -- "already exists" warning, appeared to copy OK other than that

    7. Favorites -- "already exists" warning, appeared to copy OK

    8. Links -- "already exists" warning, appeared to copy OK

    9. Local Settings -- an apparent shortcut. Upon pasting, no "already exists" warning, no visible action

    10. My Documents -- "already exists" warning, appeared to copy OK

    11. My Music -- "already exists" warning, appeared to copy OK. Lots of .m4a files copied, I suppose it's iTunes. Good, my user won't want to lose 'em.

    12. My Pictures -- warning "replace desktop.ini?" Sure, shoot it dead.

    13 My Videos -- warning "replace desktop.ini?" OK

    14. Nethood -- an apparent shortcut. No "already exists" warning, no paste.

    15. Printhood -- an apparent shortcut. No "exists" warning, no paste.

    16. Recent -- an apparent shortcut. No "exists" warning, no paste.

    17. Saved Games -- "replace desktop.ini?" OK

    18 Searches -- "replace desktop.ini?" OK

    19. Send To -- an apparent shortcut. No "exists" warning, no paste.

    20. Start Menu -- an apparent shortcut. No "exists" warning, no paste.

    21. Templates -- an apparent shortcut. No "exists" warning, no paste.

    Now were down to NTUSER.DAT and friends, including a bunch of the form NTUSER.DAT{alphanumeric gibble-gabble}.regtrans-ms and, ones that are similar except with the extension .blf. Left these babies behind also. Ew.

    OK, now can we log in as <newuser> and does she still have her stuff? YESSS! and YESSS! iTunes files are there, family photographs are there. At this point all I can do is give the box back to the owners and ask them to notice if anything obvious is missing. For the time being I'm going to just hide the old user with the corrupted profile instead of removing her completely. And disable the Administrator user again. And, oh yeah, return to the BIOS and disable the legacy stuff and re-enable UEFI and Secure Boot. Wipe down all surfaces and cover my tracks everywhere.

    THANK YOU!! everybody who kicked in with the very useful suggestions.


    P.S. broe23:

    > Only difference is the cover/gui

    You do seem to be pretty much right about that. I found trying to work through the Win 8 GUI to be hideously inconvenient and limiting, but once I gave that up as a bad job and dropped back to the command line everything I reached for did seem to be there and working as usual. NB, did run the scans as I promised. Microsoft one-shot security scanner says clean, Malwarebytes says clean.

    Last edited by 6ofTentacles; 07 May 2014 at 17:05.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #13

    Posts : 9
    many, Apple II DOS through Mint Linux

    One last point, about the new user I created. When she signs in Windows goes straight to the old-fashioned desktop instead of the Start Screen. (Windows 8.0 isn't even supposed to be able to do that.) The owner had it going to the Start Screen and I'd like to restore that behavior if I can. But everybody else in the universe who is running 8.x on something that isn't a touchscreen seems to want to skip the Start Screen (I would too), and that's what all the tips and tutorials I can find are about. But just this once the salmon needs to swim in the other direction. Does anyone have any thoughts about re-setting it to look the way MS thought it should to begin with? Re-emphasize, this is 8.0 and not 8.1. Thanks!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #14

    Posts : 93
    Windows 8.1 Pro 32-bit

    Install Classic Shell . . . makes it easier to find things
    Classic Shell - Start menu and other Windows enhancements

    Go to: Programs / Administrative Tools / Computer Management
    . . . Performance / Reports / System / System Diagnostics / click on the computer name in that folder
    . . . arrows on the right expand and collapse the sections
    . . . look under Diagnostic Results / Warnings . . . see if there are any clues there
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #15

    Great to hear that you managed to fix the corrupted profile .

    Regarding the error you encountered when trying to mount ESP from a WinPE, i think the problem lies here :

    And, oh yeah, return to the BIOS and disable the legacy stuff and re-enable UEFI and Secure Boot.
    If you disabled UEFI and boot WinPE in "Legacy/CSM" mode, "mountvol" may probably fail. Try booting from a "WinPE 4.0 x64" with UEFI and "SecureBoot" enabled and then run the mountvol command. Although this is not necessary as you managed to backup the hard drive, you may find it useful in some day.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #16

    Posts : 9
    many, Apple II DOS through Mint Linux

    > If you disabled UEFI and boot WinPE in "Legacy/CSM" mode, "mountvol" may probably fail. Try booting from a "WinPE 4.0 x64"
    > with UEFI and "SecureBoot" enabled and then run the mountvol command.

    Thanks, Anshad. I'll try it your way next time this comes up.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #17

    Chev65, your link to the profile-copying tutorial popped up at just the right moment. Thanks very much.

    Glad I could help, often times it's easier to simply create a new user account and move all the files to the new account rather than trying to fix a corrupted user account which can very time consuming or not even possible.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #18

    Posts : 302
    Windows 8 Pro

    Regarding profile copying, what is the reason for unhiding the hidden and system files? It does not seem like there would be anything hidden that would be needed to be copied into the new profile. Thanks
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #19

    Posts : 9
    many, Apple II DOS through Mint Linux


    There are some hidden files and some system files down in there. I gave that laptop back yesterday so I'm back to my previous I-have-no-Windows-8-in-the-house state. In Win 7 you can inventory all the hidden files in a profile and all the subdirectories beneath it easily. Go to somebody's profile (like your own), open a command window, and do

    dir /s /a:h >hidden.txt

    When the command finishes you can read hidden.txt and see what-all you've got that has the hidden bit set. (Setting explorer to show all files doesn't change this.)

    Also works for /a:s (system files) and /a:a (archive attribute set, which has been useful since forever for folks who write executable .bat I MEAN .cmd files to locate everything that's changed recently and needs to be backed up.)

    Just how critical these hidden and system things are to the functioning of the new user's profile you just copied (or didn't copy) them to would be a matter for experiment. My guess would be, heh, it varies.

    Last edited by 6ofTentacles; 09 May 2014 at 20:07.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #20

    Posts : 302
    Windows 8 Pro

    With the exception of older versions of Outlook (and possibly Windows Live Mail), I've never seen an application that had any hidden files that I needed. But I do wonder about it sometimes when moving data from an old computer to a new one. Thanks
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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Owner's profile hosed, all roads to repair blocked

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