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Windows 10 Fall Creator's Update 1709 wiped my account! [SOLVED]

Sir Arun

Member
Feb 21, 2013
28
2
66
Dear fellow Anandtech forum users,

I have experienced a massive problem installing this year's Windows 10 Fall Creator's Update 1709 (10.0.16299.64) and am in urgent need of your help!

Since spring 2016, I am on a Toshiba laptop with 64-bit Windows 10 and which has the computer name LAPTOP-CF0EMM3P.

I have a local user account with administrator privileges whose name for the rest of this thread let's call "ME",
and my mother has a local user account which for the rest of this thread let's refer to as "MOM".

so far everything had worked smoothly, this includes the Creator's Update from summer 2017 which I installed a few months ago via Windows Update, but last week, the automatic Windows Update function began to go crazy, i.e. it downloaded the big Fall Creator's update (download 100%), supposedly finished installing it (installing 100%), then prompted me to restart the computer, but when I did, after about 5% the updating was canceled and it jumped to the login/welcome screen; I logged in to my ME user account, and then got the message that the update could not be installed correctly, while everything else remained normal. Then the procedure started afresh, i.e. Windows downloaded the update again in the background, after about half an hour I was prompted to restart and upon restarting the update could not be properly installed again. This happened about six times before I started to investigate.

I found out that in the folder where the downloaded Windows Upates are, i.e. the folder C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution, some 12 GB of files had already accumulated and I knew that due to the repeating downloading&"installation" background process, this would only keep getting more.

My computer had also slowed down because this stuff was constantly happening as a background process. Therefore, I first decided to manually stop the Windows Update feature (via run>services.msc>Windows Update>right click and stop), then deleted the SoftwareDistribution folder in Windows, then restarted the computer (it will generate a new SoftwareDistribution folder with only a few MB) and manually downloaded the Fall Creators Update from the Windows website. To do these steps, I followed this guide:

https://www.wintips.org/fix-windows-10-update-1709-fails-to-install/

And of course, the Windows 10 update manual download website linked therein was the trusted, real one:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

Via the "Update Now" button, I downloaded the update assistant and followed the instructions .... so the download worked, installation worked, then I was asked to restart, which I did, and when I logged back into my account the first time, EVERYTHING WAS GONE. I restarted in panic, logged back in, but still the same:

This means:
- I had the default Windows 10 wallpaper instead of my own,
- all my folders and files on the Desktop gone except for the few default shortcuts
- all my tiles in the start menu replaced with the default tiles (as they appear in layout after creating a new account)
- In similar fashion, all my stored tabs and bookmarks in my browsers gone
- Pictures folder empty, Documents folder empty, Music folder empty, Videos folder empty, Downloads folder empty ...(keep in mind my lazy *** hadn't done a backup since spring 2016, silly me, right?)
- my Thunderbird e-mail client new and empty

But all the installed programs on the C:\ drive were still there. In short, my old "ME" user account was gone and I had been catapulted into a brand new one with the same name and password (!!!!!???!?!?)

Thank God was I able to find the following folder structure via file explorer in C:\Users\

ADMINI ~ 1
ME
ME.LAPTOP-CF0EMM3P
Default.Migrated
MOM
Public

It turned out that my old ME account, including Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos, Downloads, Desktop, etc. was completely preserved, in terms of data, and intact in the directory C:\Users\ME. So nothing was lost. But: I cant log into there anymore! Because right now, I am actually in a new directory, namely C:\Users\ME.LAPTOP-CF0EMM3P

And although I still see only the two old accounts "ME" and "MUM" in the Windows 10 login/welcome screen, and although I thought I was now logged in the "ME" account (even same password as it used to have prior to the update!), I am in fact logged into the newly created "ME.LAPTOP-CF0EMM3P " account. Are you guys following? Everything is new in this newly created account. My old ME account is still there on the hard drive, but I cannot log in to it!

So I decided that I was sick and tired of this new update and wanted to undo it. At first I thought about System Restore, but the update had wiped out all old restore points!!!!!!! This is nothing new; this had happened to me a few months ago after installing the 1703 Creators update in the summer of this year as well, but fortunately at that time my account had remained intact!

So the only option I was left with now was via System Recovery, i.e via: Settings>Update & Security>Recovery>Go back to the previous version of Windows 10.

Since I'm doing this from my new ME account (actually ME.LAPTOP-CF0EMM3P according to folder structure), I get the following message:

"Remove new accounts

Before you can go back to a previous version of Windows, you'll need to remove any user accounts you added after your most recent upgrade. The accounts need to be completely removed, including their profiles.

You created one account: ME

Go to Settings >Accounts>Other people to remove these accounts, and then try again"


The problem is, in "Settings> Accounts>Family & Other people" I only see a so-called ASP.NET Machine account, which is something I never use, as it doesn't even appear in the login/welcome screen) and the account of my mother "MOM". I cannot see "ME", because I seem to be logged in here and therefore obviously cant delete myself.

... which furthers my suspicion that a new account was not created, but rather that my old "ME" account was somehow disabled and its login credentials transferred to this one, although it is still there in the folder structure in terms of files and data.

I do not want to delete my "ME" account, because I'm afraid that then the computer deletes my old "ME" account (the one that I actually want to keep!) including all data, and not the newly created "ME.LAPTOP-CF0EMM3P" and that then I will lose all my data and personal settings forever and get stuck with this stupid newly created account.

So I've decided to ask you fine gentlemen for any suggestions/help that would return my old ME account. I.e. when I select "ME" in the welcome screen and log in, I should be going to the folder structure C:\Users\ME and no longer into C:\Users\ME.LAPTOP-CF0EMM3P.

I know that there is also the possibility of transferring my old preferences and personal settings from my old ME account into this new one. But I do not want that, because this new account has the file path ME.LAPTOP-CF0EMM3P, and I don't like that at all. Therefore, I would like to have my old account back.

1) Especially considering that there is also an MS Office key enabled there and I have the fear that this new account would consume one more.
2) And all login data remembered by my browsers would be gone as well.
3) And I don't know how it would mess up all my installed steam games and saves, since the relevant AppData folder is attached to my old account...

One also has to ask oneself the question first: Why did Windows even (have to?) create the new account in the first place? Could it be that my old ME account had somehow become corrupted and it was therefore necessary? In that case, of course, it would not be wise to go back via System Recovery ... but as a layman, I cannot tell if an account is corrupted or not.

In the File Explorer C:\Users\, by the way, I right-clicked the MOM folder (my mother's account) and went to properties to see how large it is and it had 0 bytes! This first put me in panic that my mother's entire folder had been deleted! Of course, it's LUCKY, that she works very rarely on the computer, i.e I have all her data backed up in spring 2016 on an external hard drive and she hadn't done much during this past year, and she gets her e-mails via Outlook, so her e-mails are stored online and not locally, so everything is there. Anyway, I decided to log off and log in to my mother's account with her password and just like in mine I was greeted with the black screen and the words "Hi...", "we're setting things up for you" etc. baby language after every major update. Then, LO AND BEHOLD, her familiar background appeared, then all her desktop icons appeared as they were, and all her data was accessible via the respective folders (pictures, music, videos, documents etc...) So basically, my mom's account had survived the update intact. Just mine had been nuked and transitioned into a new one. I immediately backed up everything of hers. So that's the good news I guess.


Nevertheless, it's a huge nonsense what Microsoft has done there. Worse than any Trojan or Rootkit !!!!!! When installing the Windows Update manually, there was no mention of a "clean install" anywhere, no warning that you could lose data ..... It all happened on the evening of November 20th, to the morning of November 21st. In the last two days, I've backed up all of my personal data from C:\Users\ME\ to an external hard drive as well, i.e. the contents of my folders Pictures, Music, Documents, Videos, Downloads, Desktop, Thunderbird Profiles (including emails), Browser tabs (Opera, Chrome, Firefox which are the three I use) and just to be safe also the AppData folder.


So my stuff is safe. But please, tell me how I can log back into my old ME account instead of this new one also titled ME in the login screen, and also with the same password, but in reality ME.LAPTOP-CF0EMM3P according to its file structure which i HATE.

...because according to what I've read on the Internet you have ONLY 10 days instead of the usual 30 days to roll-back the Fall Creator's update, then that can't be done anymore and I do not want to lose my old account including all personal settings!!!!!!
 

Sir Arun

Member
Feb 21, 2013
28
2
66
Nevermind, to any readers concerned, I found the answer myself:


You have to use regedit with administrator privileges and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
there, look for the current profile image path of - in my case - the account that's supposed to be the ME account as per login screen name, then change the image path to the old image path (c:\users\ME)

then restart.


So I looked it up and, to make sure, also looked up what the contents of my mom's profile are.

Basically both have the same amount of registry keys with the same values, obviously hers has a different path C:\Users\MOM while mine was indeed currently set to C:\Users\ME.LAPTOP-CF0EMM3P so I guess I had to change that to C:\Users\ME and then reboot, but before I did that, just for anyone else reading this, I took a few safety measures:

1) Since my ME account was the only one with administrator privileges (the MOM account didn't have them yet and was still a local standard user), I first went to settings>accounts>family&other people and then selected my mom's account, clicked on "change account type" and selected administrator.

I did this because in case I messed up my registry with the edit and could no longer get back into my old or new account, I wouldnt be stranded onto my mom's account - which back then was still a local standard user - and therefore unable to make important system or registry changes anymore. Hence I made hers an admin as well, so that if I messed things up I could make the relevant changes while logged into her account, like going back to an old system restore point.

2) Which brings me to point 2, namely manually creating a system restore point. Only once I did that did I feel comfortable in making any registry changes.

3) I manually backed up the entire registry to my external HDD as well, via regedit

4) Finally I did the edit as suggested, restarted, and when I now logged in via the startup screen into ME, it actually took me back into my old ME account, with my old desktop wallpaper and all data in their respective folders like pictures, music etc, startmenu tiles just like I left them, browsers remember all my login data, my respective steam games are installed and ready to play ....it saved my day.


Still, one problem I encountered is that double-clicking an image resulted in an "invalid registry key" error because the default photo viewer (Photos) was gone and replaced with the word "TWINUI" which gave me an error. The same applied to some other default applications which I saw when going to settings>apps>default apps

For example, under Maps it said TWINUI, under Music player, photo viewer and video player it also always said TWINUI.

So what I did was I looked up on the internet what the respective app names should actually be:

Maps > Windows Maps
Music Player > Groove Music
Photo Viewer > Microsoft Photos
Video Player > Movies & TV

...and then opened the Windows Store and typed their names one after the other; they always showed up as "the product is installed" so I clicked "launch" and they launched without problems, and then when I went back to the settings>apps>default apps window, they appeared there instead of TWINUI. That way I set all the respective apps properly, tried to open an image and it opened well. Restarted to make sure they still worked and they did.

I finally have my PC back and am so happy.
 
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