I just started my laptop and found all my profiles gone.
My Firefox addons gone, background image is different, desktop icons are differeent etc etc.
I am not sure what happened.
Can anyone tell me how to fix this please?
Have you tried the built-in "System Restore" function of Vista? Give that a try; reset back to a few days ago, and see if that fixes it.
If not then unfortunately there's about 1000 other 'answers', all of which would require further interrogation. I believe that interrogation would go beyond the scope of this single question, and you may want to consider taking it to someone who knows what they're doing before going too far trying to 'fix' it.
This is a bit similar like: "I felt a sharp pain in my arm and now I can't move my leg." We don't have enough information about what happened exactly. To find what happened, the best way would be by visiting a specialist. If there's no hurry, just continue to wait for answers here but be aware that the longer you use that laptop, the smaller the chance of recovery will be.
My first guess is that you've re-installed Vista again. Then all you can do is put back a backup, if you have one. Else, sorry... Your data will be gone although a specialist might recover it for an enormous amount of cash.
Or maybe you've logged on with a different user account. In that case, log in with your regular account again.
There are a lot more reasons why this happened so we will need to know what you did -exactly- before this all happened.
First of all you should open up my computer and navigate to c:\users**your username**\documents, just to see if all of your data is there.
If you did find your data it means that the current profile has been damaged, the safe way to repair the problem would be to follow the instructions found here
This should correct the damaged profile and get you back up and running.
if there is no data to folder I pointed you to you can check c:\windows.old if it exists your data may be there as well.
If you do not see any data in the either folder you may wish to consult a recovery firm to attempt to recover any important lost data.
As usual I left my computer running overnight. This morning I turned on the monitor to see a default Vista user account instead of my own profile. But the Start menu showed that it was logged in as my own account!
My Documents and all other profile folders were empty, but the files still existed under the C:/Users folder. I added a few basic icons (Firefox etc) to the desktop while searching Google for answers. One suggestion was to log out and back in. Doing this brought me back to the same default account settings--and the icons I had added were gone again.
I rebooted, and this time everything came up normally. My old profile was just as I left it, apparently none the worse for wear.
Checking uptime showed that it the PC had rebooted at 5:40am. I was on my way to work, so didn't take the time to check the event log to see why. Will check that and edit that in later.
Has anyone else seen this behaviour before?
Or know what caused it?
Is it likely to happen again?
Am I in danger of losing data?
The computer restarted for some reason. And when it logged in again Windows detected that your profile was damage and used a temporary profile instead. This can happen, I'm not sure why. But as long as you got the right profile after a reboot there should not be any problem. Maybe someone else has a more detailed explanation.
Yup I've seen this before, as well as people I work with. Your profile or one of it's file's might be corrupt. You can tell your PC to scan and fix disk error by entering this command into the commandline:
chkdsk c: /F
The scan will start when you reboot. Even without disk errors, files can still corrupt via other means, anything from applications not closing file handles, to malicious trojans.
If this keeps happening, consider using your OS disc to repair your installation.