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Loss of personal settings. How?

When I shut down my computer last night, everything went fine, or at least I thought it went fine. Because the next morning when I strted it up, logged into my user account and suddenly a message popped up that my personal settings where damaged and that the personal settings where reset to their original state. Thank God it didn't removed my documents and e-mail, it just made a new user account and it had saved my original account to it's original folder. Because all of the documents where kept, I made a backup of those on a CD and I let it remove my original (damaged) account. Then, I made a new user account through the user account of another user on my system and I was able to put things back into one place and after fiddling with settings in MS Outlook (I had to set the emailaccounts in the program, they where also removed), and my startup programs, I was able to put my computer back into one piece.

After this horrorstory I have a question about how to prevent this in the future. Where are my user settings saved, what file(s) must I backup (apart from my email and stuff)? I want to know if it's possible to place some files back from a backup if this happens again (like a registry setting, but where).

If there is someting not clear about this story, please post; I will answer soon. Thank you in forward.


Not trying to be funny, smart or rude- as it sounds like a harrowing XP-erience - but would System Restore not have handled this for you??

I think System Restore woulod have been the first thing I had tried!
No, tried that too, but the last time my computer worked, I deleted all but the most recent Restore Point. For some reason that one was corrupted too, I think, because it gave me the same results (not allowing to log in to original user account).

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Hello, is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me ...
What a long strange trip it's been. =)

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