CopyProfile does not process and causes Windows could not parse or process the Unattend answer file for the pass [Specialize]

/ March 31st, 2010/ Posted in Desktop, Windows 7 / 38 Comments »

The following error appears if CopyProfile setting is set to true configured in the unattend.xml file.

Windows could not parse or process the Unattend answer file for the pass [Specialize]. The settings in the answer file cannot be applied. The error was detected while processing settings for component [Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup]

Solutions was to delete any users from the following location in the registry that do not exist anymore
HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

After doing that you should be able to sysprep the gold image correctly.

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  1. Bill Glaholt
    2018/08/29 at 11:59:57

    Thank you! This was fantastic — ( know it’s been eight years, but this solution is still giving to the SCCM community!! ) Awesome!

  2. Sergio Pereira de Araujo
    2018/08/23 at 12:33:32

    Thanks for the help, the solution was successfully applied. Congratulations!!

  3. Harshit
    2013/02/13 at 03:18:24

    I am facing the same issue as described above. However I checked the path in Regedit and found only 4 entries.

    SID: S-1-5-18
    Name: Local System
    Description: A service account that is used by the operating system.
    SID: S-1-5-19
    Name: NT Authority
    Description: Local Service
    SID: S-1-5-20
    Name: NT Authority
    Description: Network Service
    SID: S-1-5-21domain-500
    Name: Administrator
    Description: A user account for the system administrator. By default, it is the only user account that is given full control

    I am sure we cannot delete the above entries as it is related to Local and Domain

    When I deploy the image on client machine I get the error

    Windows could not parse or process the Unattend answer file for the pass [Specialize]. The settings in the answer file cannot be applied. The error was detected while processing settings for component [Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup]

    What could be the root cause of the issue and solution.

    Any help would be greatly appriciated.

    • Mladen
      2014/01/22 at 15:31:02


      I have had the same error message. I am using SCCM 2007 to deploy win7 and in one Task Sequence I have configured answer file with nothing more than “copy profile” true option. I was thinking error message is caused by win7 image and profiles, I have tried to delete reg entry but with no success.
      Then my colleague checked log file on one deployed computer and we have realized Serial key is the problem not the copy profile option.
      As soon as we have removed serial key (it was kms key btw) everything works like charm and error message has gone.

      I hope someone else will find this solution usefull.

      Regards from Serbia.

  4. Floyd
    2012/11/30 at 14:26:26

    Thanks, It worked. I was deploying windows 8 through MDT 2010 and was getting this error message. Quick question though, how do i fix it permanently so it won’t give me this error message in future.

    • Jamie
      2012/12/02 at 21:31:30

      That’s strange it still happens in windows 8 as well. It doesn’t happen all the time I’ve only noticed a few times on various images I’ve created.

      • Floyd
        2012/12/03 at 13:09:22

        Do you know a way to update the unattended answer file ? so that i can resolve this permanently.

  5. Mir
    2012/09/26 at 20:27:57

    Thank you Jamie, Eric and BrainB.

  6. Paul
    2012/09/21 at 15:46:18

    You are a life saver! Thanks so much!! 🙂

  7. cr7cr8
    2012/09/21 at 06:33:51

    It worked. Thank you.

  8. Littlest Hobo
    2012/08/01 at 13:32:25

    In case it helps anyone, I was just stupid enough to click ‘log in as Administrator’ when deploying the VM via the template customization wizard. Didn’t tick the option and problem went away in an instant.

  9. Jan
    2012/07/18 at 05:40:46


  10. Ruthie
    2012/07/05 at 13:05:27

    Thank you! To Jamie, Eric and BrainB! I had to use all three of your tips to fix my image. You are life savers – well at least time savers for sure! 😉

  11. Eric
    2012/06/06 at 15:53:17

    Deleted all of the profiles other than the administrator and system profiles and restarted. The error discussed here was taken care of (YES!) but now received the following error (NO!)

    “The Computer Restarted unexpectedly or encountered an unexpected error. Windows installation cannot proceed. To install Windows, click OK to restart the computer and then restart the installation”.

    Performed the following registry change below and it corrected the issue – the system completes sysprep setup. (YESSS!)

    HKLocal machine/SYSTEM/SETUP/STATUS/ChildCompletion, change the value for setup.exe (double click setup in the right window) from 1 to 3.


    • Al
      2012/12/06 at 07:30:43

      Great. That helped! Thanks

  12. Bryan
    2012/05/22 at 15:12:24

    Wow! That is amazing. I knew the problem was with the copyprofile, but I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what the issue was!

    I spent almost a week reading, searching, and testing trying to get this to work before I found this site.

    Gotta love windows error messages! Well, thanks again!

  13. MIA
    2012/02/07 at 18:04:53

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was about to quit. I deleted a profile, but it was still in the registry. Deleted from registry, sysprep completed!

  14. Trashcat
    2012/01/12 at 13:38:18

    Just to let you know, you are a life saver. I work for a school district as a Tech, and could not figure out why sysprep continued to break my image. I’ve been looking for a solution for weeks. Thank you!

    • Cy
      2012/01/23 at 11:45:38

      Sad that the niners aren’t going to the superbowl, but super happy to have found this fix. This problem has been dodgin our desktop team for weeks. Thanks!

    • Jamie
      2012/01/18 at 22:54:00

      Thanks! Good to know

  15. jim
    2012/01/06 at 15:31:03

    wow…i’ve been looking for an answer to this everywhere. thanks!

  16. Daveyrand
    2011/11/15 at 10:39:44

    Great fix!

    If you want to edit the registry without recreating your wim image file from scratch, try this…

    …handy when you’ve already formatted your reference build!

    • BrianB
      2011/12/28 at 14:20:48

      You can also edit the registry during the setup right when you get the error. Just press Shift+F10 to open a command prompt and then type ‘regedit’ at the command prompt. Edit away, close and reboot! Or in my case, I edited the registry from there, and then rebooted to my Ghost CD and re-created the image.

  17. TMS
    2011/09/29 at 08:48:25

    Great resolution. I thought it was due to a dodgy unattend.xml, taken me ages to get this sorted.

  18. Super
    2011/09/20 at 17:06:33

    Same here, I have been pulling out my hair for the past week. This worked. Thanks for the post.

  19. Kathryn
    2011/08/03 at 12:54:27

    Thank you – this was exactly what I was looking for. I appreciate you sharing it with us!

  20. Harish
    2011/07/13 at 03:42:18

    Hi Jamie,
    I’m facing the same issue while trying to install win& image. I wanted to try out ur solution, but how can we edit the registry when the system is not even loading? system gives the error message while setting up and then just restarts. please guide me on how can i edit registry in this scenario

    • Jamie
      2011/07/15 at 10:24:24

      you would need to do this before you sysprep the image.

  21. Stefan
    2011/06/06 at 07:34:54

    Your suggestion worked! I was going mad until I came across your post. Thanks a million!

  22. Mat
    2011/05/05 at 08:37:30

    This is working very well… i was getting crazy before i found your tip ! Thank you very very much.
    Now i can use CopyProfile in my unattended file.

  23. JT
    2011/01/31 at 07:30:55

    This worked for me as well. Thank you very much!

  24. Neal
    2010/10/25 at 09:47:48

    Thanks Jamie,
    That must not be my problem then.
    I get the “Windows could not parse or process the Unattend answer file for the pass [Specialize]. The settings in the answer file cannot be applied. The error was detected while processing settings for component [Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup]” message, but those are the only accounts that I have in the ProfileList registry.

    • Jamie
      2010/10/26 at 13:28:38

      What account are you running the sysprep under? Do you have any other settings getting applied during that phase?

  25. Neal
    2010/10/23 at 18:18:48

    I have the Administrator account, plus an account I called SETUP that I put in the administrator group. I built it to our standards. Alls I have in ProfielList is Administrator, SETUP, and S-1-5-18, S-1-5-19, and finally S-1-5-20. There are not others. Are you saying here to also delete administrator? The Others?

    • Jamie
      2010/10/24 at 21:06:49

      No you only need to delete the accounts that don’t exist anymore. Sometimes they are deleted but still reside in the registry.

  26. Mikael
    2010/08/24 at 08:04:37

    It works. Thx

  27. Jim Stewart
    2010/08/05 at 19:11:44

    Over the past couple of days the same problem has driven me to the brink of insanity. Thank you for posting this solution, it worked for me.

    • Jamie
      2010/08/06 at 08:09:50

      No problem.. Glad it worked out for you.

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