Google’s Chrome web browser  is a popular one and is known for it’s speed and reliability, but all web browsers encounter issues from time to time. If you get the error message “Your Preferences can not be read. Some features may be unavailable and changes to preferences won’t be saved” when starting up Chrome, it likely means that some of the data in your user profile has been corrupted. Luckily there are a few fixes you can try that should get Chrome working as it should again. They should also work for similar errors like “Your preferences file is corrupt or invalid” and “Your profile could not be opened correctly“. 

Quick Jump

Be aware, losing your Chrome data is possible when fixing this issue:

Data such as your passwords, saved form data, bookmarks, history, and cookies can be lost when fixing this issue. This is because the error is usually due to files in your Chrome profile becoming corrupted and may be unrecoverable and need to be deleted. Making a new User Data folder, where your profile is stored, is the most common fix because of this. And while it’s possible to make a backup of your old User Data folder, you may not be able to restore the data from it later even if you do. As the files in the folder are likely corrupted, moving them back to the new folder may cause the error to come back.

One way to avoid losing most of your data is with Chrome sync. This can be done when you log in to Chrome with a Google account. Using sync stores bookmarks, history, passwords, saved form data, settings, extensions and more on Google’s servers and syncs them with all the other Chrome browsers you are signed in to. This way even if that data is deleted from your hard drive it will be re-downloaded after signing in.

Locally stored website settings and cookies are not synced, however, so they will be lost if you end up making a new profile, resetting Chrome’s settings or uninstalling Chrome. If you don’t have a Google account, making one and connecting it to Chrome is recommended.

For those that already have a Google account or don’t mind losing their cookies and website settings, you can skip ahead to the new user profile fix, which works for most users. If you don’t have a Google account, or don’t want to make one and are OK with losing all of your Chrome data, you can also try that fix first.

For those that want to try to preserve as much of their locally stored data as possible, you should start from the beginning with the steps for removing malware and problematic extensions. These methods will only delete select files and therefore you’re less likely to lose important data.

Even if you don’t want to use a Google account, you can still make a backup of your Chrome bookmarks

While it’s difficult to reliably backup other data when fixing this error, you can easily make a backup of your bookmarks. This is done by exporting them to a file that you can then restore later. The simplest method is through Chrome itself. Here’s how:

  1. Open Chrome as you usually do.
  2. Now click on the options menu(3 horizontal dots), navigate to Bookmarks and then click on Bookmark manager.
  3. Once on the bookmark manager page, click on the options menu on the blue bar(3 horizontal white dots) and and then click Export bookmarks. This will export your bookmarks as an HTML file.
  4. A window asking you where you want to save the file will come up. Choose a safe place to store it that you’ll remember, in this example the “Documents” folder, and then click Save.

 

Let’s start by removing malware and other software:

Removing malware, problematic extensions and other unwanted software can get Chrome running properly again.

The built-in Chrome Cleanup Tool can remove this software. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Open Chrome as you usually do.
  2. Click on the options menu, then click on Settings.
  3. Once on the settings page, scroll to the bottom and click on Advanced.
  4. More settings will become available. Scroll to the bottom once again and under “Reset and clean up” click on Clean up computer.
  5. Now click on Find next to “Find and remove harmful software”. Leaving the “Report details to Google” option checked will send helpful information to Google. If you aren’t comfortable with this, you can uncheck it.
  6. Chrome will now search for harmful software. This may take a while. Wait for it to finish.
  7. If  harmful software is found, click on Remove to get rid of it. If not, a message saying “No harmful software found” will be displayed. You can now close Chrome.
  8. You should restart your computer afterwards to make sure everything was removed.

Programs like Malwarebytes can find and remove any lingering harmful or unwanted software, some of which may be affecting Chrome. Here’s what to do:

  1. Follow the instructions on the Malwarebytes official support site on downloading and installing Malwarebytes if you don’t have it already. It should automatically open after installing it.
  2. A notification about a 14 day premium trial will come up if this is your first time using Malwarebytes. You will still be able to scan for and remove malware after the trial ends. Click on Get Started.
  3. Now click on Scan Now.
  4. It will check for updates and go through a series of scans. It may take a while. Wait for it to finish.
  5. When finished you’ll be shown a list of detected threats. Leave all the items selected and click Quarantine Selected.
  6. A screen saying that the scan and quarantine is complete should come up. You can now close Malwarebytes.
  7. You may need to restart your computer for the effects of the malware to be totally removed.

Sometimes Chrome extensions can cause this error even if they aren’t detected as harmful:

Sometimes malicious extensions can slip past detection, or legitimate extensions can unintentionally corrupt data. To see if this is the case, you’ll want to disable all of your extensions and see if the problem no longer occurs. If it does, then you’ll want to re-enable your extensions one by one until the error causing one is identified, then remove it. Note that the extensions seen here are just used for example, there’s nothing wrong with them and your extensions will likely be different.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Open Chrome.
  2. Click on the options menu and then on Settings.
  3. Once on the Settings page, click on Settings with the 3 horizontal lines next to it in the upper left corner.
  4. After this menu opens, click on Extensions. This will open a new tab.
  5. On the Extensions tab, disable all of your extensions by clicking on the switches in the bottom right corner of each one so that they are to the left and grey. Close Chrome when done.
  6. Open Chrome again to see if the error still comes up. If it does, you’ll need to try another fix. If it doesn’t, go back to the Extensions page following steps 2 through 4 again.
    1. Back on the Extensions page, re-enable one extension, then close Chrome and reopen it. Make sure to pay attention to which extensions you enable.
    2. Repeat this until the error comes up again. Once it does, go to the Extensions page and click Remove on the extension you most recently enabled, then confirm you want to remove it by clicking Remove on the window that pops up. Only check the “Report abuse” box if you believe the extension was malicious and want to file a report. Close Chrome when done.
    3. Now open Chrome again to see if the error comes up. If it doesn’t, then you should be able to re-enable any disabled extensions and use Chrome normally.

Usually the most effective fix is to create a new user profile folder for Chrome:

This is done by renaming the User Data folder so that Chrome doesn’t recognize it and creates a new one. With a fresh folder and newly created files, Chrome should be able to access and save your preferences again. In order to get to this folder you’d normally have to enable the showing of hidden folders, but there’s a way to access it directly. Here’s what to do:

  1. Make sure Chrome is not running. If you are not able to properly close Chrome, restart your computer before proceeding.
  2. Open Windows search (click on it or press Win + S) and then copy and paste or type in the following:
    %LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\Chrome\

    Then press Enter.

  3. A window to Chrome’s application data folder should open and your User Data folder should be in it.
  4. Rename this folder(click to select it and then click on the name, or right click on it and click Rename) to “Old User Data”. It can actually be any name you want, it just needs to be something different from “User Data”.
  5. Once the folder is renamed, open Chrome. Chrome will recreate the User Data folder as it opens and make a new profile, meaning that the error should be gone now. If you have a Google account you can now sign back in and wait for your data to sync to the new folder.

You can also now delete the “Old User Data” folder as it’s no longer needed. If you’re technically savvy enough you can keep this folder as a backup and try to restore data back to the new folder, but I’d recommend against doing this for most users as it’s likely to bring back the error.

If creating a new User Data folder didn’t work for you, there are still a few more fixes you can try.

Resetting Chrome’s settings to default may get things working right again:

You should be aware that if you use a Google account that resetting Chrome’s settings affects all browsers that you are signed in to. So even if you only have the preferences error on one computer, your settings will be reset on every device you’ve signed into Chrome on. Your passwords will not be deleted, but most other settings and data will.

If you’re willing to try this, here’s how:

  1. Open Chrome.
  2. Click on the options menu and then on Settings.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the Settings page and click on Advanced.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the advanced settings and click on Restore settings to their original defaults.
  5. In the window the pops up click Reset settings. Leave the “Help make Chrome by reporting the current settings” box checked if you are comfortable with doing so.
  6. The settings will be reset. You can now close Chrome and then reopen it to see if the error still comes up.

If you are still receiving the error, or if you didn’t want to try this method, there’s still one last fix you can try.

You can uninstall Chrome and remove all of it’s data as a last resort:

When the other fixes haven’t worked, completely removing Chrome from your computer and then reinstalling as if it were a new installation should work. This will of course remove all Chrome related data you have on your computer, but if you have a Google account you sync to you’ll be able to restore things like passwords and extensions afterwards.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Open Windows search (click on it or Win + S) and begin typing “remove”. Click on Add or remove programs when it comes up.
  2. In the window that comes up either scroll down until you reach Google Chrome’s entry or enter “Google” into the search bar to find it.
  3. Once located, click on Google Chrome, then Uninstall, then confirm by clicking the Uninstall that pops up.
  4. Click Yes on the UAC prompt if it comes up.
  5. In the next window that comes up make sure the “Also delete your browsing data?” box is checked, then click Uninstall.
  6. Chrome should then be fully uninstalled and a web browser will come up with a survey asking about why you uninstalled Chrome. Feel free to close out of this.
  7. It’s a good idea to now restart your computer.

Chrome should now be completely removed from your computer, but there are extra steps you can take to check and remove all traces:

You’ll want to check all of Chrome’s folders and delete any data that may still be there. Here’s how:

  1.  Open File Explorer (Win + E) and navigate to This PC if not already on it, then to the drive where your files are installed(usually the C: drive) and open it(double-click on it).
  2. Now navigate to “Program Files (x86)” and open it. You will only have the “Program Files” folder if you are on a 32-bit Windows 10 installation.
  3. Find the “Google” folder and open it to see if there is still a “Chrome” folder inside. If there is, you can either delete the “Chrome” folder, or the entire “Google” folder(right-click and then click Delete, or press the Delete key after clicking on it).
  4. A permission prompt may come up. Click Continue if it does and provide your password if prompted for it.
  5. Now copy and paste or type the following into the address bar of File Explorer:
    %LOCALAPPDATA%

    and then press Enter.

  6. You should now be in the “Local” folder within the “AppData” folder. Locate the “Google” folder and as before, either Delete the entire “Google” folder or open it and delete the “Chrome” folder within if it’s there.

After that’s done, one last step you can take is running software like CCleaner to help clean up any registry entries Chrome may have left behind. This is optional, but recommended. If you decide to do it, download the free version of CCleaner from the previous link, and then use the registry cleaning tool as shown here in the official documentation. It’s a good idea to restart your computer after doing this.

Once Chrome has been completely removed, you can reinstall it:

  1. Go to the Google Chrome official website using Microsoft Edge(or another browser if you have one) and click Download Chrome.
  2.  A window with the Terms of Service will pop up. Uncheck the “Help make Google Chrome better by automatically sending usage statistics and crash reports to Google” if you don’t want to send such data to Google. Click Accept and install when ready.
  3. Wait for it to download and then click Run.
  4. Click Yes on the UAC prompt if it comes up.
  5. A new window will pop up and download and install the necessary files for Chrome. Wait for this to finish.
  6. When it’s done Chrome should open automatically. A page welcoming you to Chrome and asking if you want to sign in should come up. If you have a Google account, go ahead and click Sign in and enter your information.

Once Chrome is running as it should, you can restore you bookmarks if you need to:

If your data was deleted while fixing Chrome, you’ll at least be able to restore your bookmarks if you backed them up as instructed at the beginning of this guide. This shouldn’t be necessary if you signed in with a Google account. Here’s what to do:

  1. Open Chrome if it’s not already.
  2. Click on the options menu, navigate to bookmarks and then click on Import bookmarks and settings…
  3. This will open a new tab. Click on the drop down menu and then click on Bookmarks HTML file.
  4. Now check the “Favorites/Bookmarks” checkbox and then click Choose file.
  5. A new window will open where you can navigate to your bookmarks file. Once found, click on it and then click Open.
  6. Your bookmarks should now be restored. Click Done.

Hopefully this guide has helped get Chrome running error free. If you’re still having trouble, feel free to ask in the forums, or leave a comment here.

Still stuck? Ask your question in our forum!

About Author

Ryder Lund

Since he was young Ryder has been drawn to technology and had a knack for working with and learning about it. He often ends up being tech support for friends and family because of this, so it feels natural to him to help out others by writing guides on using Windows. He enjoys living in the Pacific Northwest of Washington state where he is close to both nature and the bustling tech hub of the Seattle area.

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