Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Here's the scenario:

  • Login to Windows XP. Let's say it is a member of domain foo. ("It is a member of domain foo.")
  • You login with a valid username/password on domain foo.
  • You authenticate, and then Windows starts setting up your desktop for the first time.
  • You logout ... then you login again ... and Windows starts setting up your desktop all over again!
  • Rinse and repeat ad nauseam.

"Wha happen?"

share|improve this question
what are the group policy settings? does the user have permission to write to the local HD? – Devnull Jul 29 '09 at 17:44
They can write to the local HD, plus they're in the Power Users group as well. I tried removing the profile folder. It gets recreated just fine, plus the "personalized settings" are created anew as well ... every time they login thereafter. :\ – Joe D'Andrea Jul 29 '09 at 18:10
They are also using the same group policy as other users on that domain. This is the only account with said problem. – Joe D'Andrea Jul 29 '09 at 18:10
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Ah-ha! Found the culprit.

This account used to be used only on a Windows 2000 system. Now they're on XP.

Now, it's true that I set them up to be in Power Users on the PC in question. However, they're a member of "Domain Guests" vs. "Domain Users" (or a more specific group) according to Windows Server 2003's AD.

I switched them to "Domain Users" and set that as the primary group. No more repeated pzn. :)

Thanks to all for the clues/advisement!

share|improve this answer

I've seen this happen in Vista when the users profile was corrupted causing it to build a temporary profile every login. Just removing the profile folder from the Users folder corrected the issue on the next login when it created a new user profile correctly.

Might also be caused by GPO writing the profile to an alternate profile location.

Have you tried any troubleshooting on it?

share|improve this answer
I removed the profile folder. I see that it does get re-created upon login. Profile settings stick ... until they logout and login again. Then it acts like they're logging in again for the first time. Hmm. The user in question is also in the Power Users group (for the proverbial foo domain). Something else must be different vs. other users (who don't have this issue), but I haven't the foggiest idea what. They all use the same group policy too. :( – Joe D'Andrea Jul 29 '09 at 18:09

Look in the C:\Documents and Settings\ folder to see if the new users profile directory is being created or might be duplicating with a number in the directory name or is it duplicating with a .machine/domain extension. Knowing what is or isn't happening in the profile directory should help in determining what the problem is.

Just as a brief overview... When a new user logs in, Windows first looks to see if they have a roaming profile to copy locally. If not found it then builds the users initial profile by copying a default profile from one of two locations; first it looks in the directory "%LOGONSERVER%\NETLOGON\Default Profile" if this is not found it then uses the local default profile "C:\Documents and Settings\Default User". Once the directory is copied, it then runs through a task list that various applications may have added to, stored in the registry, for tasks that need to be done to a new account. The Internet Explorer setup wizard is an example of this. When the new user process is complete the logon continues as normal. If this is a roaming account, when the user logs off Windows will synchronize the remote directory with any local changes.

share|improve this answer

Have you tried getting the user in question to log on to another machine to see if the problem is replicated there? This is the FIRST thing I always do when troubleshooting issues like this, and it will tell you if the problem is with the user account or with the machine.

No point in trying to troubleshoot the one if the cause of the issue lies with the other...

share|improve this answer
Yes - this makes perfect sense! Of course, since the account is never used on any other machine, failure to login elsewhere initially looked like a case of: "Oh, well it's supposed to work like that." (Smacks forehead.) In the end, it turns out it's really OK for that login to be used on other machines. It was just in the wrong group (Domain Guests), which was fine for Windows 2000 but not now that the user's main system is on XP. – Joe D'Andrea Jul 31 '09 at 11:58

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.