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Mark O'BrienFlag for United States of America

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Does deleting the user's profile in windows 7 delete user's data?

Does deleting the user's profile in windows 7 delete user's data?
Thank you!
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Yes, if all the user's data is kept in My Documents and other folders that are part of the profile. So anything under c:\users\<username> is gone.
Avatar of Predrag Jovic
Depend on your answer to question - Do you want to save data.
Control panel - user accounts - manage another account - delete account
When you are deleting profile you will be asked to decide to flush or keep data.
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It didnt ask.  Im trying to get the data back now, if possible.
User generated imageAlways asks.

You need to get some recovery tool.
get data back, recuva, active file recovery etc

Use as little system as possible - more you use - less is chance to return data.
When recovering files recover to second partition or another HDD.

Best chances you have if you boot system from another drive and start recovery (boot from USB drive or another HDD drive).
Did you have Volume shadow copy enabled? You can restore from previous versions.
At many PC with windows 7 I found that people turn on maintenance and create backup of personal data on D partition (or even whole system partition), and have no idea when they did it. If it is so that could be best but ... usually is not so...
I never saw the dialog box.  I wonder if it's b/c the computer's here at work on the domain?

Tried Recuva but that didnt find much.  The laptop's been restarted a few times in the meantime though.
The more you use laptop more data you will lose. Turn off laptop, get out HDD drive and attach it to another PC, and then try to recover data.

There are many tools for recovery, I am satisfied with active recovery (saved my b.. more that one time). Many people put their trust in get data back.
You have demo to see if it can find data... and think of buy one :)
"active recovery"  where is that?
Deleting a domain level profile off a machine, does NOT delete the users folders.
c:\users\ whatever the username was

Deleting a local profile and doing a cleanup deletes the local profiles data folder

Using a recovery tool to recover data from a users directory will likely not work, this is due to the UID information in the registry, if you recover and don't roll back, you can likely take ownership of the folder, and possibly get some of the data back, but you will never be able to log into that account again due to registry restrictions. Windows XP - 8.1 use a method of identification of profile data to associated UID's in the registry.

Another issue you will have, is if this is a laptop and encryption was enabled..
Just kiss that data good bye,..
Rob, so what you are saying is that if you delete a profile, all the user's data remains?

I had the encryption turned off.
That's correct.. (2k, XP, Vista, 7) (I don't know in 8 or 8.1 since i refuse to use them)
The User data will remain if you remove the user from the system.. In a domain profile.
In a User, local user profile, if you delete the user off the machine, and do not do a profile cleanup the user data will still exist in the User data folder under the Root of the Installation path.
If you remove the User from a Domain Controller, the User folder on all desktops that user has logged into, will still exist.. Only it may no longer show the users name, and show an unknown UID number. If you were to add another user, with the same username back to AD, however, you will not get the same profile as the UID is specific to each user, and not based on specifically the user name.

In addition to that information,
The UID is stored in the registry under HKLU which will be directly associated with that UID.
As far as i know there is no way to re-associate the UID with a new user, without substantial registry work.

You should however be able to log into the system as a local admin
In 2k and Xp go to C:\Documents and settings\ either the username or UID and take ownership of the folder under the folder security.
In Vista-7 you would go to C:\User\ Either the Username or UID and take ownership there.

NOTE: taking ownership on a HUGE profile can take some time to complete.
Where did all his files go then?
Did he remove the profile himself?
Or did you do it?
What steps did you do to do it?

Was it a domain profiles?
was it local?
what os?

I can create you a video showing you how i can delete a profile on any OS you want.. and go grab the profile data if you would like?
I removed it in show profiles in Windows 7this is a domain profile. I did not do any registry changes
I dunno man..
I just did a test..
Created three accounts, logged into them.. 1 local 1 domain, and one roaming..
Each one still has profile data in the USERS directory after removing them from:

Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\User Accounts\manage user accounts

Sounds like who ever did the removal, deleted the sub-folder under the Users directory..
So it may be worth a quick check by right-clicking parent folder for the profiles (e.g. c:\users), select "Restore previous versions" then "Open" an older copy if visible. Browsing there will hopefully give you an easy recovery option assuming  your VSS (Volume Shadow copy Service) is working.
I used System Properties > Settings > User Profiles > Settings.

Nothing in Restore prev versions
Not under >User Profiles > Settings but using Windows Explorer and right-click e.g. the Users folder where the profiles are usually found...
Oh sorry, nothing under prev versions under Users > folder.
I thought I remember in the past, deleting the profile and NOT seeing all the user's data gone.

Are we all in agreement on this?
Deleting the profile is an option when you delete the user but deleting the profile under "System Properties - Advanced tab - User Profiles" will delete all the user's data leaving the user without a profile and ready to receive a new default one...
So, now question is ...
Which method of removing user's profile author did use?
Some methods ask you to keep data, others don't...
Depends on if it's on a domain
This was a domain computer.   I didnt think deleting the profile is supposed to delete the data.  What is everyoen saying tonight?
Ok just did a test on a loaner with an end user's account and it does delete all the data in the account.  :(
It must be based on your group policy, because on mine, it does not delete the user data when i run a test here..
What type of GP settings?
We need to change it if it's set like that
Policies will be located here:
Computer configuration:
Administrative templates:
user profiles:


User Configuration:
Administrative Template:
User profiles:

The listings in these two locations are the settings in a 2k8R2 AD scenario.

There are more listed in 2k12..

You can alternately follow this link and do the opposite..
Ok Rob, thanks.  I am working with my manager on this to come up with a next step.  Possibly working with the server team
Just out of curiosity, why are there people saying that deleting the profile will and will not delete the data?
What's the difference here?
You should ask the admins to add the topic area[s] covering the server[s] running your domain.

Small Business Server

2003 Server

Server 2008

Server 2012
If a user has stored data in profile folders and the profile is a local profile (stored on the machine), deleting the profile will delete the user's data which is stored in those folders.  If the user saved in a non-profile folder, such as C:\ (for example) those files will remain.

If a user has a domain-based roaming profile, whichever folders are synced will remain intact on the server.  Any unsynced folders and files will be deleted.

If the user had a mandatory profile, the user's data would likely be stored in a shared folder (much like a home drive), so it will remain intact.

These profile settings will be configured via GPO (in the case of roaming or mandatory).  Local profiles are the default, so if no GPO exists that's what you'll be using.
the user's data does not follow them but stays on their one computer in our domain.  Is there any reason the data would disappear in this situation?
Yes.  It sounds like you're using local profiles so delete the profile, delete the data.
ok, and you're completely sure of that then?  
We have competing opinions in the thread.
Yes, unless you store data in folders that aren't My Docs, Pictures, etc.
Ok thank you.  

Why do we have such competing answers in this thread?
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Predrag Jovic
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Predrag jovic, Ive never seen that come up when deleting a profile
Create another profile, then log in that profile.
After that log in another profile and go to control panel - user accounts - manage another profile and delete just created profile ... and you will see that message. :)
Ok so that's different than rightclick Computer > Properties > Adv System Settings > User Profiles > Settings > Delete?
Why don't you try both ways yourself?
There are six accts on this computer but only one shows up under your way.
Why is that?
This only partially answers the question.