C:\Windows\system32\config\systemprofile\desktop refers to a location that is unavailable

This article applies to Windows Vista but may work on other versions of Windows as well.


You receive the following message when you start up your computer or try to save to the Desktop:
“C:\Windows\system32\config\systemprofile\desktop refers to a location that is unavailable.”


This solution assumes that Windows is installed on your C: drive. if it is not, substitute that drive letter for C.

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click Computer.
  3. Navigate to C:\Users\
  4. Open the folder with your username.
  5. Right click on the Desktop folder and click Properties.
  6. Click the ‘Location’ tab and click the ‘Restore Default’ button.
If you are unable to do that:
  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Type regedit and press Enter to open the Registry Editor.
  3. Navigate to the following registry key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell\Folders
  4. On the right, double click the Desktop key.
  5. Make sure the Desktop value is set to:
    “%USERPROFILE%\Desktop” or “C:\Users\%USERNAME%\Desktop”
  6. Click OK and close the Registry Editor.


  1. Trying to help OP at Techguy with this problem after doing they did regclean. Had tried "Last known…" and was about to suggest System Restore which sometimes work. Will suggest this instead. Always cite site and poster when I borrow answers.


  2. Registry cleaners usually just remove invalid keys rather than amend them. This was the only thing I tried when dealing with a customer and it sorted it out first time.

  3. I have try the above ,to no available.it still appear.
    as my desktop could no function.
    pls help.

  4. This probably would help me but when I press the start key or the windows logo it does not pop up the place where it says computer.

  5. @Dylan

    Use the second method.
    1. Click the Start button.
    2. Type regedit and press Enter to open the Registry Editor.
    3 . . .. follow the other steps.
    But, you might have to navigate/search the registry for:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

    On Windows 7, the folder is called “User Shell Folders”

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