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Ever been across a file format in your Windows operating system that reads NTUSER.DAT. Firstly, let me tell you that it is a very important system file and it does serve a purpose. These files automatically get created in your personal directory once you make a separate user profile. When someone creates a new user profile on Windows OS it keeps their settings and preferences separately. That’s when the NTUSER.DAT file comes into existence and plays an important role in it. You don’t manually have to use this file anywhere, Windows will automatically create and load this file for you. In this article, we are going to find out what it really is and how it is important for you.
What Is NTUSER.DAT File?
Whenever you change any default setting of your system, whether its time, wallpaper or WiFi configuration Windows need to remember your changes and preference so the next time you log in to your computer your preferences also loads with it. This is done by storing all that information in the NTUSER.DAT file, whenever you sign out of that account. If you make another profile the settings will be the default, it will have no relation to changes made to the previous profile. Every user profile will have this file that stores data and registry entries of each user. The size of the file varies from user to user. It depends on the installation and usage of software on their profiles. Installation of heavier and larger software results in bigger NTUSER.DAT file and vice-versa.
How To Find NTUSER.DAT?
Every user’s profile has it and you can locate it by following these steps.
1. Open file explorer and browse C: drive.
2. In C: drive locate users and open that folder.
3. In the users folder, you will find your respective username.
4. Inside your respective username, you will find the corresponding NTUSER.DAT file.
Note: If you can’t find the following file in the mentioned location, then it might be because you have turned off the option to show hidden files. It is done to prevent it from accidentally getting deleted.
Alternatively, for older Windows like 2000 and XP, it is present in the following location: C:\Documents and Settings\username
Also Read: 3 Easy Ways To Reset Network Adapter Driver
How Does NTUSER.DAT File Works?
These are basically a part of registry files. In Windows, the registry contains information of each user profile and everything that is installed on the computer. Therefore Windows OS needs the registry files to run programs and perform any task on a computer. Hence whenever any user logs in into their account their respective NTUSER.DAT file adds itself to the computer’s registry. This way it gets accessed from the registry tree present in Windows. With NTUSER.DAT file an additional ntuser.dat.LOG files also automatically get created whenever you make new changes. This is nothing but a backup of your previous settings and preferences.
What Happens When You Delete it?
We would never recommend you to delete the NTUSER.DAT as it can result in corrupting your user profile. Your operating system is dependent on that file to load your settings and preferences. If you delete that file and try to log in next time then you will see a message that says “we can’t sign in to your account”. It also tells you that the problem can be solved by logging in and out of your account, but this doesn’t solve it and you see the same message repeatedly. Windows keeps the file hidden in the first place for this very reason. There no point or use of deleting that file as it only takes 3-20 MB of your space. So deleting it won’t save you any space but can result in losing your account and its settings. However, data and software files present in your PC will still be there and they won’t be harmed in any way.
If a user is no longer using your computer and you want to remove the user and its settings then follow these steps:
1. From the desktop, right-click on This PC or My Computer for older PCs and go to its properties.
2. When the System window opens up click on Advanced system settings.
3. A new System Properties window will open up, go to the Advanced tab. 4. In the Advanced tab, click on Settings under User Profiles.
5. Now you can select a user profile and delete it accordingly.
Also Read: Know What Version Of Windows Are You Using
Now you have understood how important an NTUSER.DAT file is for your system. Therefore it’s not advised to delete or try to alter it as it will only result in corrupting your profiles. Only delete it if the corresponding profile is no longer in use. Also, only an administrator can delete a sub user’s NTUSER.DAT file and other users don’t have privileges to do that. You cannot open or read its content directly, it is generally accessed by forensics unit in case of cybercrime to retrieve information on a user. Mention your queries through the comments below, if you still have any.
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