Unable to log in to your Windows user account? Experiencing missing files and settings? Getting frequent Windows PC crashes out of the blue? You Windows user profile may be corrupted, and malware may be the cause.
With problems such as software bugs, loss of administrator rights and even problems with hardware like your hard drive, there are plenty of ways your user account can become corrupted. It only gets worse if a virus or malware snuck on your PC.
Not being able to get into your Windows user account makes using your computer impossible, but the good news is there are a few ways to get it fixed.
This guide will help you fix a corrupt user profile on Windows and show you how to fend off malicious software using the best antivirus.
Corrupt user profile on Windows: Quick fixes
Signs of a corrupt user account on Windows include lost administrator permissions, slow performance due to high disk drive issues, restricted login access and more. If you notice any of these problems, we recommend follow each step below.
Even if it appears to be fixed, it’s best to run an antivirus scanner to detect any malware hiding in plain sight.
Update your software and restart your computer
Updating your Windows PC software and restarting your computer can often fix problems with your user account. However, they can also fend off malicious software.
Cybercriminals take advantage of security vulnerabilities on your device. These zero-day vulnerabilities allow threat actors to exploit computer systems until developers mitigate them, which can cause major damage.
Updating your system’s software can resolve the issue. A software update often contains security patches that help protect your device, as developers work to protect users from known zero-day attacks and other forms of malware trying to infect your device, especially with unfamiliar processes.
You can update your device through its settings. For example, you can update your Windows PC by navigating to Start > Settings > Windows Update > Check for updates. If there are any, download and install the update.
Create a new administrator account
If you’re having problems with your usual user account, such as lost administrator rights, try creating a new admin account instead.
To do this, you’ll need to restart your computer in Safe Mode. There are a few ways to do this, but a simple way is to head into Settings.
Type in “Change advanced start-up options” in the search box located on the taskbar. Under Recovery, click Restart now next to Advanced startup. Then click Restart now.
From here, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart. Using the number keys, select Enable Safe Mode.
Once done, type “Command Prompt” in the search box on the taskbar. In this window, type in:
net user <username> <password> /add
Replace the <username> and <password> with ones of your choosing for the new account.
Then, use the Command Prompt to type in the following command:
net localgroup administrators <username> /add
This will add a new user account with admin rights. You can use this account from now on.
Use the built-in Windows repair tool
An easy way to fix any corrupt files or applications that are causing problems with your user account is to use Windows’ built-in repair tool. This is know as the DISM command tool.
To run in, type in “command prompt” in the search box on the taskbar and open the app. From there, type in the following:
DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
Then press Enter.
Your Windows PC will automatically scan your system for any corrupt files and fix problems it comes across.
Change your passwords
If you’ve noticed you symptoms of a corrupt Windows account, chances are your PC has been infected with a virus or malware, and your online accounts and devices are at risk of being compromised.
To help mitigate potential malware threats or hackers taking control of your accounts, change your passwords and use a strong password to stop suspicious activity.
Changing passwords will stop hackers from trying to steal any sensitive information and your online accounts.
Use antivirus software to detect and stop malware
The easiest way to stop malware from corrupting your user account is by using one of the best antivirus software like Norton 360 (from $19.99/year). It will keep you safe from any malicious software, like ransomware, adware, spyware, phishing and more.
That’s not all; antivirus software can provide extra features like VPNs, cloud storage, PC boosters and more. Norton 360 has all these features and extra security tools that can backup your data, prevent online identity theft and stop malware.
What’s more, Norton 360 comes with monitoring features to identify all suspicious activity on your device. It will help detect and notify you about any unusual activity, including corrupt user accounts caused by a virus or malware, and stop it using it’s protection tools.
What causes a corrupt user profile on Windows?
Your user account on Windows lets you access your files and data. If it’s running slow, keeps crashing, shows corrupt files or won’t let you perform specific administrator tasks, your user account may be corrupt.
An accidental change in important user profile files in system settings can cause problems with your account. However, sometimes, a software bug or a power outage can mess with your PC, which can randomly cause your user profile to act strangely.
The real cause for concern is when malware has purposely changed your user profile, possibly making it inaccessible. A hacker can cause significant damage to your system and your private information if malware has taken control over the account.
Malware can sneak onto your device through a number of ways, including mistakenly clicking a suspicious link in an email or going to a dodgy website, thanks to phishing attacks.
To identify and remove malicious software and prevent infections from happening, it’s best to use an antivirus like Norton 360 to detect any malicious activity and stop the malware from causing more harm.
Can any antivirus software stop viruses and malware?
The best antivirus software will stop malware in its tracks. Not all antivirus software is equal, as some don’t have high malware detection and protection rates or have accredited lab scores to back them up.
However, many high-standard AV protections offer near-perfect scores when detecting and protecting against malware, meaning even complex malicious software can’t go unnoticed. Even if it’s a malicious software changing your user profile settings, it will be able to stop it in its tracks.
Services, including Norton 360 (from $19.99/year) and Bitdefender (from $19.99/year), include device monitoring features to help uncover suspicious activity early and offer the tools to fight off cyberattacks. Whether its a phishing attack, ransomware, spyware or infostealer malware, these security products have the tools to protect you.
These services have protection features that block malicious activity on your device, along with extra features like cloud backup and PC boosters. To make sure your device is ready to identify and block malware damaging your system, set yourself up with an antivirus.
Best antivirus to prevent viruses and malware
1. Norton 360 🥇From $19.99/year
Best overall antivirus of 2023
“Norton” and “antivirus” are synonymous these days, as the well-established cybersecurity brand has successfully fought against malware, viruses and nasty software threats since 1990.
Norton 360 offers excellent antivirus protection and extra features that make for a valuable, all-in-one security product. Its Norton 360 Deluxe and Premium package may cost a pretty penny. Still, with security across multiple platforms, a full-blown VPN, Dark Web Monitoring, Parental Controls and more, it will have a household free of cyber threats.
Norton’s certainty of its antivirus software’s capabilities is clearly defined by the brand’s 100% Virus Protection Promise. If a device protected by Norton 360 can’t get rid of a virus, the user receives their money back. It’s a big claim, but unquestionably, no one should expect to get that refund.
If you have the money for it, you can also check out the premium Norton 360 Platinum package for even more online protection, including from identity theft. Without a doubt one of the best antivirus to get.
Read our full Norton 360 review
2. Bitdefender 🥈 From $19.99/year
Best security features and tools
Bitdefender takes the spot as best antivirus, and for good reason. It’s not enough that it boasts near-perfect lab test scores across the board, as it goes the extra mile by giving users access to a plethora of advanced security features.
Bitdefender goes above and beyond in the features department, all while keeping known malware, ransomware, and viruses at bay. It will defend your device against new attacks, provide security for online transactions, keep you safe with a reliable VPN, and protect your accounts with a password manager.
It’s a no-brainer when it comes to defending your devices against virtually any form of cyberattack, and its top-notch protection extends to its most affordable package, too. Protecting your PC and smartphone, from Windows and macOS to iOS and Android, is becoming even more necessary, and Bitdefender is the tricked-out shield you need.
Read our full Bitdefender review
3. Malwarebytes 🥉 From $44.99/year
Best antivirus for Windows PC
Hundreds of malware emerge every minute, and it’s Malwarebytes’ mission to detect and conquer them all. Does the antivirus do this successfully? Yes, but there’s wiggle room for improvements.
Malwarebytes’ no-nonsense approach to protecting your devices from the onslaught of malware and viruses is effective for those who need a reliable antivirus that will detect and remove malicious software, especially with its free version. However, while its premium service provides 24/7 real-time detection, conveniently blocks vicious ransomware and shields users from malicious websites, it doesn’t go beyond on the feature front.
That’s no bad thing, as sometimes a user only needs a powerful antivirus to keep them safe from cyber threats. But considering its competitors add a few more security tools, such as data breach monitoring and a firewall, there’s room for improvement.
Read our full Malwarebytes review
4. Avast One 🙌 From $39.99/year
Best antivirus for beginners + free plan available!
With Avast One, you can protect your device from viruses, malware and ransomware for free. That’s right, and you don’t have to pay a dime for the extra security features the antivirus throws in, including its VPN, firewall and more.
Avast One will safeguard your device from malware, comes with ransomware protection, blocks harmful websites and downloads from the web, scans your emails for malicious attachments, stops hackers from infiltrating your device through Wi-Fi with a firewall – the list goes on. That’s a lot of tools for software that’s free, and the included VPN and the ability to speed up your PC are a welcome bonus.
It’s the ideal antivirus software for home use, as it takes the hassle out of staying wary of cyber threats lurking around, even if you’re not a tech whizz. What’s more, if you are looking for added precautions, its paid Individual and Family packages still boast great value. Hard to go wrong with this best antivirus.
Read our full Avast One review
5. AVG👍 From 4.99/month
Best antivirus for + free plan available!
You can never go wrong with free antivirus protection, but some deliver even better detection and protection rates, along with extra security features, without costing a dime. This is where AVG antivirus shines.
AVG provides reliable protection and only a small impact on performance for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. It safeguards your devices against malware, viruses and zero-day exploits, along with blocking malicious links and attachments in emails. Throw in phishing protection when surfing the internet and extra security features such as its SafePrice browser extension and Network Inspector, and you’ve got yourself a do-it-all antivirus.
Sure, you can find all of these perks with Avast, but if you like a slick, darker user interface that’s easy to navigate, then AVG is for you.
Read our full AVG Antivirus review