User Was Deleted from XP. Help me get back the settings.
July 25, 2012 11:24 PM   Subscribe

XP Disaster - Deleted User - Help me.

Will not beat self up for doing this -but stupid without realizing the ramifications it was. Luckily there wasn't that much data to misplace. Long story short, I did do the unthinkable and deleted *user* (me) from XP thinking I would do myself a favor by *cleaning up* the startup. Whatever. Anyway - I did manage with the help of my good friend to bring back the documents and files in a haphazard way to the desktop. I understand now to get them into Administrator is a major hassle so I won't even go there. What I do need is my settings.

Firefox and Thunderbird to be precise. Basically I need my email settings and my addons and whatever I painstakingly pieced together to perfection before the deletion.

I just need this spelled out in the simplest of terminologies and steps. Help. Please.Thank you. Muchly.
posted by watercarrier to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Fortunately, because Firefox and Thunderbird are cross-platform applications, their configuration data is pretty much independent of the Windows user account and is stored in a bunch of files. So if you have access to all of the old files you should be all set. This page may help.
posted by XMLicious at 12:01 AM on July 26, 2012

All your settings are stored in a profile (which is a folder with stuff in it). This article tells you where your profile used to be. You have to locate this in the files you recovered to your desktop and make a note of the location. Then follow the instructions linked by XMLicious to create a new profile and copy the old one over it.

You will have to do this twice, once for firefox, once for thunderbird. Having identified where the profiles are, make backups before starting, that way if you mess up you simply clean up and do it again.
posted by epo at 12:44 AM on July 26, 2012

I did manage with the help of my good friend to bring back the documents and files in a haphazard way to the desktop.

Did you and your friend do that by moving things, or by copying them? If it was by copying, and you didn't make any changes inside the original folders, the most straightforward way might involve recreating the deleted account and then applying the small amount of black sysadmin art required to connect it to the existing profile folder (which I'll happily explain).

Before you do anything else, it would certainly pay you to stop and have a think about how your machine's user accounts are best organized. On XP, using Administrator for everything really is just begging to get infected; you're far safer using a limited account for day-to-day stuff.

If your main concern is a desire not to need to stop at the login screen when you're starting up your computer, you can still do that even if you have multiple accounts. Save this script as "C:\Program Files\flabdablet\set-up-auto-logon.cmd" and run it from the Administrator account. It will let you choose a user account to log on automatically when Windows starts. Choosing a nonexistent account will disable automatic logon.
posted by flabdablet at 1:41 AM on July 26, 2012

Well, I couldn't figure any of it out since I couldn't find the *user* settings and now everything is combined and chaotic. After installing and uninstalling Firefox's various versions to get them to work with the add-ons I'm reconstructing, I have now about 4 different versions of the profile all over my computer. There is no way I can sort this out by myself. I can't even see clearly at this point. All I see are icons. Will have to just sit this out until someone can do this with me step by step. Cheers.
posted by watercarrier at 4:30 AM on July 26, 2012

I had a terrible experience with User Profile deletion at work. An OS update corrupted my user profile. Tech Support remoted in to my computer, and I watched 7 years of emails and documents disappear literally with one mouseclick. The files show up as a large chunk of data, but they are no longer indexed under the windows directory, and they are absolutely invisible and I cannot view or browse to them. KEEP A CURRENT BACK-UP-- I did not have any backup.

1] choose one log in identity and stick to it. Should not be similar to previous so you can make a clean break. make sure you move the folders and files into that user-- don't create shortcuts to the old folders.

2] figure out what parts of the file hierarchy you need to copy. could be everything under my documents and desktop. Foxfire saves the profiles inside Program Files. Research on the internet to find where favorites and settings/configuration are stored.

2] Reboot computer into safe mode with command prompt. cd into the old user folder and move or copy the folders to the new user profile.
posted by ohshenandoah at 1:54 PM on July 26, 2012

Foxfire saves the profiles inside Program Files.

If "Foxfire" actually means "Firefox", this is incorrect. By default, Firefox profiles on Windows XP are in "C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles" and Thunderbird profiles are in "C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles".

Without knowing the details of where your haphazard recovery process has put things, I can't think of any way to give you the step-by-step guidance you're looking for. Screenshots might help.
posted by flabdablet at 5:40 AM on July 27, 2012

I can't even see clearly at this point. All I see are icons. Will have to just sit this out until someone can do this with me step by step.

I agree and think you might be best off looking for a local professional in your area. While we could tell you how these things flabdablet mentions, it'd be hard to consider what's been done already without the details. That kind of thing would be much easier to do in person with a local techie.

Just a few things to keep in mind if you're still looking however:
- Pay attention to date stamps on the folders and files (change view to detailed to get all that info when looking at the icons)
- Once you have identified the oldest profile folder (usually something scrambled like "3daduus73") you can copy the *contents* of that profile in to overwrite your existing one. As an aside, that cryptic looking folder it the exact reason I personally hate mozilla products in a business environment.
- Hold on to all your copies until you're absolutely sure you've restored the right one.

If you would like to provide more information of the file/folder layout you currently have, post to pastebin the output of the following command:

Open a command prompt:

dir /ad /od /b /s %userprofile% > %userprofile%\desktop\dirout.txt

Comb through dirout.txt on your desktop for anything you feel would be personal before submitting it publicly. (you can do a CTRL+H in notepad for example and replace all instances of your name with something else if you feel it would be personally can also strip out all the lines that are not related to mozilla profile directories)
posted by samsara at 6:05 AM on July 27, 2012

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