Is Your Bloated User Profile Slowing Windows Down?


winlogo.jpgStop for a minute and take a look at your desktop. How many icons, folders and files do you see? Probably a lot. So what's the big deal?

It could be causing your Windows Computer to slow down.

Not when your Computer boots, but when you log on or off, right click on folders or icons, even trying to open a folder or file from the desktop. For users with roaming profiles, having a large user profile can degrade system performance. But it can also cause issues even if you do not have a roaming profile.

Storing large folders or file on your desktop is convenient, as long as you keep the size under control. Even if you use tools such as Disk Cleanup or CCleaner, desktop files and folders are not included during cleanup and can get out of control.

To see the size of your user profile:

  • Open up the Run dialog box by clicking on Start \ Run… (or WinKey+R) and enter sysdm.cpl.
  • In the System Properties window, click on the Advanced tab then click the Settings… button in the User Profiles section

(NOTE: Screenshots are from Vista and will look similar on XP.)


  • The User Profiles window will display all user accounts on your Computer. From here, you can see the size of your profile.


As you can see my User Profile is 489MB. If you think about that for a second, it's almost a half a gigabyte in size. Pretty soon I WILL start having problems and should clean it up now.

While your profile is made up of settings for mouse, Window based applications, third party programs and other items, cleaning up your desktop can improve system performance if disk cleanup tools seem to fall short in making improvements.

To help keep your profile size small and under control, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Create folders in My Documents or on another drive or partition.
  • Save large files in the same locations as folders instead of on the desktop
  • Instead of saving items on the desktop directly, create shortcuts on your desktop to those items
  • If you don't like to use shortcuts (or have too many of them), add a toolbar for My Computer or any drive and folder on the taskbar. This will allow convenient access as if the item was on the desktop and keep your user profile size in check.
  • Don't allow programs to save data to your profile. Many programs allow you to change the default settings for save data.

Remember, keeping large items off the desktop and saving them else where (such as My Computer) may be the difference in gaining back lost performance with your computer… especially after you have exhausted all other methods.

Better yet, just add it your list of cleanup routines.

Filed under Windows Tips by  #

Comments on Is Your Bloated User Profile Slowing Windows Down? Leave a Comment

August 29, 2009

Romberry @ 10:45 am #

Bloat is never good but the advice you have posted here is…well…wrong. If you store files and folders in My Documents, those files add to the size of your user profile, just the same as if they were on the desktop. And the size of your user profile has just about nothing at all to do with boot times, slowing Windows down or running out of memory or any of a host of other ills that are claimed (though to be fair, you didn't claim anything other than a slowdown in your write-up.)

A great deal of misunderstanding seems to come from an old MS KB article ( about out of memory messages which were related to a memory resource called the desktop heap. But I assure you that having files *on* your desktop doesn't load them into memory (a common claim that is wrong) and also that moving files from your desktop (from Win2K on to XP to Vista to Win 7) does *not* reduce the size of your user profile. Your user profile is made up of all the files, folders, shortcuts, links and whatever that you have on your desktop, in your My Docs folder, or anywhere within your particular *user* folder under Windows. Right this second, my user profile is a whopping 30+ gigabytes as I have a great deal of audio and video in my documents folder. Slowdown? None. Speedup from logging completely off that profile and into an admin profile that has a paltry 80 megabytes in the user profile? None.

I appreciate your article, but it's based on a misunderstanding/myth.

October 14, 2009

Simon @ 6:40 pm #

I have to agree with the original message, reducing large user profiles speeds up and removes many bloaty problems.

July 9, 2010

Nick @ 3:24 am #

Agree with Romberry. A large profile registry hive *may* in theory cause longer logon times, but the size of the other folders that comprise the profile is irrelevant in my experience.

November 22, 2010

ggrasty @ 12:40 pm #

I agree with this article…..maybe 1 or 2 profiles that are bloated is fine. Try it with about 200 and see how she runs!

August 30, 2012

Barry @ 9:43 pm #

Wish I'd have read this before having my user profile go kaput!

April 30, 2013

kmangone @ 11:49 am #

@Watching The Net: There is a Microsoft "book" reality and there is "real world reality". A bloated profile does cause issues… I have seen it since windows started using a registry. (I have been repairing computers for 20 years). Also, you mention that it does not load the files on the desktop into memory… think about it… the profile loads when you login and EVERYTHING with that profile is loaded into memory… that is how windows allows for "faster access" to the things in your profile. That is called reality…. not what you find in a book or a "perfect" lab scenario.

kmangone @ 11:52 am #

@Watching The Net: sorry… that post was really meant in response to Romberry.

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