4 Methods for fixing “Desktop Refers to A Location That Is Unavailable” Error


Summary: This article will walk you through a number of ways to fix “Desktop Refers to A Location That Is Unavailable” error and restore all your valuable data using best data recovery tool, Bitwar Data Recovery Software.

Sometimes, system crash will occur when users restart their computers after a system update or force shut down. Whenever you start your computer after a system crash, you will enter into an empty desktop, where all your applications, icons, and folders are nowhere to be seen. Next, you will get hit by an error stating, “C:\windows\system32\config\systemprofile\desktop refers to a location that is unavailable”.

Desktop Refers to A Location That Is Unavailable

Desktop Error Looks Like

When the error happens, all your system files are either corrupted or damaged. To solve the “Desktop Refers to A Location That Is Unavailable” error, the default path of your computer startup should be reset. It can be implemented by moving the desktop to C:\windows\system32\config\systemprofile\ so that the path connects to the desktop.

You can also restore the default path or enter the correct path manually. However, before you go ahead with resolving the error, a system restore point should be created so that you can go back quickly if anything happens wrongly.

Besides, the system editing is a risky process, and the best way to prevent any further damage is to back up the system.

Possible Reasons

There are many reasons that can lead a Windows profile to corrupt or crash as below:

  1. System file corruption.
  2. System crash.
  3. Improper uninstallation of the program.
  4. Virus or malware attack.
  5. Force shutdown or improper system shut down.

Effective Methods to Solve “Desktop Refers to A Location That Is Unavailable” Error

After understanding the error and the possible reasons for the failure to occur, there are always effective methods to solve the error on your system. Refer to the methods below to learn the steps to resolve the error as soon as possible!

Method 1: Reset Desktop to the Default Location

Step 1. Open Run window by pressing Win + R and type C:\users\%username%, followed by hitting Enter.

Step 2. Select Properties by right-clicking on the Desktop folder.

Step 3. Go to the Location tab and select the Restore Default Button.

Reset Dekstop

Step 4.Then click on Apply and press OK.

Step 5. Reboot your computer so that changes can be saved and see if you still encounter the error message or not.

Method 2: Registry Editor

Suppose that resetting the Dekstop is not working, you can fix the “Desktop Refers to A Location That Is Unavailable” error by running the Registry Editor as the steps below:

Step 1. Open the Run window again and type regedit followed by pressing the Enter key to launch Registry Editor.

Step 2. Navigate to the following path:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders.

Step 3. Select Users Shell Folder and then double click on the Desktop on the right window panel.

Step 4. After this, check the value in the Value Data Field, it should be set to




Registry Editor

Step 5. Press OK and exit out of the Registry Editor.

Step 6. Reboot your computer so that the changes can be saved.

Method 3. Run System File Checker (SFC) Scan

SFC is a utility scan provided by the system to scan for any corruption or damaged file in the system and helps to repair them.

Follow steps below to run the SFC scan:

Step 1. Go to Window Search by pressing Win + Q and type in Command Prompt.

Step 2. Right-click on the Command Prompt and choose the option Run as Administrator.

Step 3. Type sfc /scannow in the CMD window and press the Enter key.

SFC scan

Please wait patiently for the scan and repair process to finish.

NOTE: Be ready to prepare the Windows installation media, which is the Windows DVD or USB. This is because sometimes during the repairing process, the system may require it.

Method 4: Copy the Desktop Folder Back to Its Location

Step 1. Reopen the Run window by pressing Win + R and type C:\Users\%USERNAME%.

Step 2. Locate Two Desktop Folders, one containing the desktop contents and the other one empty.

Step 3. Now, Delete the empty folder.

Copy Dekstop

Step 4. After this, Copy the desktop folder containing data to the following location.


Step 5. When you navigate to the system profile folder, it will ask for the permission, simply click on Continue to move forward and Access the folder.

Step 6. Now, Paste the desktop folder into the system profile folder by right-clicking and selecting Paste.

Step 7. At last, Restart your computer system so that changes can be saved and check whether the error message is still there or not.

More importantly, after applying these solutions, it may also lead to data loss. Therefore to retrieve all your missing or lost data, we suggest using Bitwar Data Recovery Software, which is the best recovery tool for both Windows and Mac.

Recover Lost Data when “Desktop Refers to A Location That Is Unavailable” using Recovery Tool

Bitwar Data Recovery is user-friendly and provide guaranteed results for all type of data recovery. It supports Windows 7, 8 10, and Mac system. Besides, it allows for full data recovery for any data such as doc, xls, audio, and video, etc.

Follow the Guided Steps Below to Recover Lost Data from Dekstop:

Step 1. Download the Bitwar Data Recovery according to your system.

Step 2. Launch the recovery tool and choose Standard Mode and then select the Lost Partition Recovery option.

Step 3. Choose the Partition from which you lost your data and click on the Next button. If you are unable to find the lost partition, then go to the Deep Scan mode, this mode will perform an in-depth search to find the data.

Step 4. After this, select the Hard Drive and click on the Next button.

Step 5. Choose the File type you want to restore, followed by Next.

Lost Partition Recovery

Step 6. Preview the selected data for the recovery and then click on the Recover button to start the recovery process.

NOTE: Once the entire data is restored, SAVE it to a different location and DO NOT save retrieved data back to the same partition where you lost it from.

Wrap it Up!

The “Desktop Refers to A Location That Is Unavailable” error could either be encountered on your computer hard drive or a network after the system crashes.

Do not worry if you ever come across this sort of situation as the above-provided solutions will help you resolve the error. Moreover, you can get back all your lost essential data during troubleshooting by using Bitwar Data Recovery Software!

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  1. Method 4 is the one that worked for me! Easy guide to follow, great suggestion to save the data in another partition, just in case I downloaded Bitwar. Thank you!

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