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What Is the NTUSER.DAT File?

Every now and then we fall short of space on our computers and hunt for all the files we can delete to create space on our computers, but many a time, we come across files we know nothing about or files that have very technical names. Then we keep thinking should we delete this file or not? Does it carry something important? One such file is NTUSER.DAT. You might have come across it multiple times and wondered what exactly NTUSER.DAT file is? Well, you shouldn’t be viewing this file, as this file is usually hidden but in some cases, by default, this file is unhidden, and we want you to know that this file is a very critical file and you ought to know more about it before doing anything to it.

If you want to know anything related to the NTUSER.DAT file, you have come to the right place. Here, in this article, we are going to tell you everything in detail about this NTUSER.DAT file. If you want to know about it, please keep reading further. Also, we are going to divide the information into sub-headings so as to cover all the main parts of it.

What Is The NTUSER.DAT file?

NTUSER.DAT is one of the Windows registry files. You can also call it a user registry hive. Thus, every user profile on Windows operating system has this file. What does a user profile contain? Well, every user has their personal data and preference settings which are unique to them only, and this is what a user profile contains. To help you understand this better, let’s take an example, there are two user profiles, and both of them will have different properties, different documents, different browsing history and customized settings.

What Is the NTUSER.DAT File

Since NTUSER.DAT is a registry file, you will have first to understand what Windows registry files are. Windows registry is a hierarchical database that stores settings for almost everything on your Windows computer including user passwords, Windows settings, application settings and nearly all the types of low-level settings. The registry is present on all versions of Windows operating system, but the location may not be the same for all versions. The registry also contains options and information for all the programs and hardware installed on your Windows computer. Whenever you install a new program on your PC, a sub-key containing all the details, options and settings for it is added to the registry. Registry stores settings for all your applications at one place thus making your work easy. These files are very critical, and so, we don’t suggest you delete them.

If you’re wondering what a sub-key is- The registry has mainly two elements- keys and values. Registry keys are very similar to folders. These keys are referenced with syntax similar to Windows’ path names. It uses backslashes to indicate the level of the hierarchy. These keys contain subkeys within them.

What Is the NTUSER.DAT File

How Does The NTUSER.DAT File Differ From Other Registry Files?

Unlike all other Registry files, NTUSER.DAT file is stored in your personal documents and settings folder. Also, it contains all the contents from your HKEY_LOCAL_USER branch of the Registry. In general cases, you cannot delete this file as it’s already being used and is much protected. Moreover, you just can’t delete this file when you’re logged in to your account. And even if you could delete it, you shouldn’t as deleting this file will create a lot of problems, such as your user profile might become corrupt and you might not be able to log in to your user account again, so we suggest you leave this file undisturbed.  This file keeps growing as you keep installing new software, programs, and hardware on your computer.

What Is The Difference Between NTUSER.DAT And NTUSER.MAN?

NTUSER.DAT is the part where all the registry settings of a user are present and stored. As the file is named as.DAT, the user can make some changes to the user profile, and when the user logs out of the account, these changes will be saved.

NTUSER.MAN is the same thing as above, but the name has been changed manually to make the profile a mandatory one. In this case, even when the user logs out, the changes won’t be saved. The profiles with NTUSER.MAN can be employed by many users. If you are the administrator, you can also change the name of NTUSER.MAN to NTUSER.DAT.

Now, let’s talk about the details of NTUSER.DAT file. We are going to divide the information into four sections- location, function, viewing and considerations. This will simplify everything for you.

Location

The NTUSER.DAT file is stored in your personal documents folder, also known as your user folder. Where to find this user folder? In Windows Vista, 7 and 8, user folders can be found at C:\Users\USER_NAME and the same goes for Windows 10. Another thing is that you cannot change the location of the NTUSER.DAT file even if you want to. The location of this file is fixed.

Function

As mentioned above, the function of NTUSER.DAT is to store all the settings for each user account. All the information regarding new programs and hardware is stored in Windows registry files. Windows refers to its registry files throughout the operation. This file is extremely important for your user profile to work properly. HKEY_LOCAL_USER branch of the Registry is supported by this file.

What Is the NTUSER.DAT File

Viewing

The Windows registry files are hidden files, so the NTUSER.DAT is also a hidden file. Hidden file means that this file is hidden and you cannot view it until and unless you enable the show hidden files option. To view this file, follow the steps given below:-

  1. Go to your user’s folder
  2. Open Windows Explorer, and for that, you’ll have to press “Windows-E.”
  3. After windows explorer has opened, click on view present on ribbon bar
  4. Now, click on “options.”
  5. Then choose “change folder and search options.”
  6. Click on “view” in the folder options
  7. Now, in the advanced settings, you have to select “show hidden files, folders and drives” and click on “OK.”

These files are kept hidden so that they can be protected well. These files are very critical as we have said earlier, so after you have completed your work, you must hide this file again. In some cases, this file is already unhidden, and that could create a lot of problems. Follow the steps below to hide this file.

  1. Select the file you want to hide
  2. Right click and then go to properties
  3. Now, click on the General tab
  4. Then, choose the checkbox present next to Hidden in the attributes section
  5. Now click on apply, and you’re done.

Considerations

This file is very well protected as it is needed for your user account to function properly. If you are thinking of deleting this file, you must know that deleting NTUSER.DAT file will also delete your customized settings, your preferences, etc., and this might corrupt your user profile. This is the reason this file is usually locked. It’s to prevent the accidental deletion.  If you are logged in to the administrator level user profile as an administrator, you can view this file and also delete it if you want to, just how only the administrator can change the name of NTUSER.DAT to NTUSER.MAN and vice versa.

What To Do If An Error Occurs In The NTUSER.DAT File?

Well, if an error takes place in this file, there is this file called “NTUSER.DAT.LOG” which is present to back up this file. At the time of an error, Windows will use NTUSER.DAT.LOG to solve the issue. NTUSER.DAT.LOG is listed as a text file.

With this, we have explained everything about the NTuser.dat file to you. We tried to break down all the information so as to make you understand everything better and be able to clear your doubts. We hope you find this article helpful and easy to fathom.

Geekji Team