NTUSER.DAT File – What is it? Should You Remove It?


NTUSER.DAT is a file where Windows keeps all of a user’s preferences and settings. If you delete this file, you won’t be able to access your user account. Unless you are ready to create a new user account, we don’t recommend deleting the NTUSER.DAT file.

This guide walks you through everything you need to know about the NTUSER.DAT file and why shouldn’t you remove it.

What is the NTUSER.DAT file?

The NTUSER.DAT file is a Registry hive that stores user-specific settings and preferences. This includes Desktop background, Start menu layout, taskbar customization, and more.

This file is unique to each user account, meaning each user has their settings. When you customize these settings, Windows will automatically save it to the Registry in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive.

Once you shut down or log off from your account, Windows will write these changes to the NTUSER.DAT file. When you log back in, Windows will load the Registry hive from this file and apply your customizations.

Where can you find the NTUSER.DAT file?

The NTUSER.DAT file is located in your user profile folder. Usually, C:UsersYour_Username, but Windows hide it by default. To view it, you will need to enable the Show hidden files.

  1. Head to C:UsersYour_Username.
  2. Click View > Show > Hidden items. The NTUSER.DAT file will appear in your user profile folder.

    Click View > Show > Hidden items.
    Click View > Show > Hidden items.

Should you remove NTUSER.DAT file?

No, you should not remove the NTUSER.DAT file. Windows needs this file to load your user account’s registry hive. If you delete this file, Windows will not be able to load your user account. The next time you log in, you will receive an error message saying, “We can’t sign in to your account.”

However, there are some cases where the file is already corrupt, and you can no longer log into your account. In this case, you may need to delete the NTUSER.DAT file and create a new user account.

We can't sign in to your account message.
We can’t sign in to your account.

Erik is a full-time product quality engineer at the IBM who has a passion for teaching others (and always learning) about technology. He has a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Eindhoven University of Technology. Erik is the chief editor for Windows, Linux and coding tutorials.

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