A Blessing in Disguise?

Did you ever boot your Windows 10 PC and discover that you’d been signed into a temporary profile? (What that means is that Windows has “lost” your unique profile, the one that provides access to your data files and contains your browser and e-mail client settings.)

It has happened to me twice in the past five months. The first time it happened I believed that my PC had been attacked by a virus, so I called a highly rated company that resolves PC problems through remote access. The tech who worked on my problem resolved it quickly and had me up and running in an hour.

When it happened again, I knew what the problem was, and I could have fixed it myself by doing some online research. (There seem to be many reputable resources, even including some at Microsoft.com.) But I took what I thought was the easy route and called the company that had fixed the problem before. I got the same tech (which leads me to believe that the company is really a small-time operation — the internet equivalent of a local free-lancer).

What happened then? The good news is that the tech was able to establish a new profile that gave me access to most of my data (word-processing files, Excel files, Quicken files, etc.). But when she was unable to transfer my e-mail (Thunderbird) profile to my new Windows profile, she left me hanging. She said that there wasn’t any point in trying to use the new profile because there must be (in her opinion) an underlying problem that will recur. Perhaps that’s true, and at some point I will get a second opinion. But when I asked her to get me back to the new profile, so that I could work with my files, she left me hanging in the temporary profile, which is where I started — no access to files, no browser settings, no e-mail settings. So, even though I wasn’t charged for the session, I am greatly disappointed in the unhelpful way that it ended. Needless to say, I won’t seek help from that quarter in the future.

There’s a happy ending, however. I was able to navigate to the new profile on my own, and I’ve been able to use it without a hitch. Furthermore, I was able to rescue my Thunderbird profile by doing a few minutes’ worth of research at Thunderbird’s help site. The only thing that I had to do from scratch was to rebuild my Firefox profile (settings, bookmarks, password). But that’s relatively easy to do, and it gave me an opportunity to start over with bookmarks, of which I had way too many. (Bookmarks get outdated, and even when they aren’t a better source can often be found through a quick internet search.)

Now, here’s the question for readers with some technical knowledge of PC operating systems: Does the recurrence of the profile problem point to a deeper issue, or may I proceed blithely to use my new profile without involving a new (untried by me) PC consultant? Internet searches haven’t led me to a clear answer to that question.

A point in favor of benign neglect is that my PC is faster than it had been in the months before the latest profile crash. It’s as if starting over again eliminated a lot of clutter that had accumulated in the old profile.

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