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Application Data folder seems to be empty/inaccessible, affecting other programs

This is a discussion on Application Data folder seems to be empty/inaccessible, affecting other programs within the Windows XP Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hello, The problem isn't so much that the folder looks empty, but that a few programs that use profiles are


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Old 09-15-2011, 11:58 AM   #1
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Mistake

Hello,

The problem isn't so much that the folder looks empty, but that a few programs that use profiles are no longer working as they should. Namely, Firefox and OpenOffice.

Firefox gives me the message:
"Your Firefox profile cannot be loaded. It may be missing or inaccessible."
This may seem like a Browser problem, but when I tried the usual solutions for this kind of problem (using command prompt to run the profile manager and creating a new one), I got the same error. This leads me to believe that something about the parent folder (Application Data) is inaccessible?
(I don't remember the OpenOffice error.)
I also uninstalled and reinstalled Firefox (two different versions), and I'm getting the same error.
OpenOffice gave me an error upon starting up the computer and doesn't start.
I haven't tried many other programs.

Viewing all hidden files (set via Folder Options) doesn't show anything. (I can, however, see plenty of folders under Local Settings\Application Data, including firefox profiles.)

This started last night when Windows requested me to restart for an update. I was busy so I set it to postpone by 15 minutes, but I restarted manually before the message appeared again. The problems started after I logged back in.

I'm not very good at troubleshooting, but I tried:
Running a virus scan with Avira, no problems
System Restore, which failed
Windows Update, which gives the error: "Windows cannot find '(null)'. Make sure you typed the file name correctly... (etc)" (I didn't type anything to start with)

Sorry if this is too long or too vague, I usually just find what I need already answered, but I'm not finding too much that is helpful.

I'm running Windows XP SP3 Professional on a ~3 year old Dell laptop. Let me know if you need more information, I'm kind of at a loss.

Thank you
medotexe

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Old 09-15-2011, 02:21 PM   #2
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This sounds like your Profile has become corrupted. Go to Start/Run and type control userpasswords and create a new user with admin rights. Log out of the user profile you are in and log in as the new user. Download Firefox and Open Office again. If that works go to C:\Documents and Settings open your old user profile and Copy the My Documents, Favorites, Desktop, and Start Menu folders and Paste them into your new Profile name.

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Old 09-15-2011, 03:35 PM   #3
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It looks like you're absolutely right. I set up a new administrator account, and the same installation of Firefox is working fine and the Application Data folder looks like it should.

I'm copying the files over right now, which looks like it's going to take a while.

In the meantime, a few quick questions:
I had a LOT of firefox bookmarks. I'm guessing they're lost?
What kind of thing could cause a profile to become corrupted? Should I check for anything, or is my computer just (for lack of a better phrase) getting old?

Thank you so much for your help! Although this is still pretty annoying, it's also a lot simpler than I expected it to be. :)
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Old 09-15-2011, 05:06 PM   #4
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You can restore your old Firefox bookmarks, in FF go to Bookmarks/Show all bookmarks/Import and Backup/Restore. Browse it to your old FF profile C:\Documents and Settings\<old user name>\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<profile folder> and click on the json file to import it into your current Firefox bookmarks. You can also manually backup your bookmarks to another file in case this happens again.
As for what happened, it's anyone' guess, in the world of computer, anything can happen and it probably will.
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Old 09-15-2011, 05:21 PM   #5
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I tried importing them that way already, but when I tried to access the older Documents and Settings folder from the new account, it says "Access is denied." This account has admin privileges. (I had to copy the files while logged into the other account.)
I also can't export it from the other account since Firefox won't open, the Application Data folder appears empty, and manually entering the address / searching with "Run" doesn't work either.

I kind of figured it was something like that. Mysteries of life, I guess!

Anyway, that seems to have taken care of the main problem. Now I get to struggle with some file housekeeping and repopulating my bookmarks, haha. Thank you! (Although if anyone can think of a solution for my bookmarks problem, that would be fantastic)
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Old 09-15-2011, 05:28 PM   #6
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Take Ownership of the old Application Data file.
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Old 09-15-2011, 06:02 PM   #7
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Thanks! Unfortunately, even now that I can access the folder, it still appears blank from this account. I have all options to view hidden folders and files checked. I also can't enter the complete address into "Run" or the address bar to try to bypass it.

I feel like they've got to be in there somewhere, since I was able to reach my Minecraft application data files (of all things) via a shortcut I already had on the desktop. The folder still showed as blank when I went up one level, though.

Thanks anyway! It's not terribly important, I might just have to repopulate the list manually and deal with it.

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