After downgrading IE10 to 9, unable to download (solved!)

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I ran in to this one yesterday and thought I should tell you all how I got around it. First, a quick description of the problem.

After a recent downgrade from Internet Explorer 10 back to Internet Explorer 9 (by going to the Programs and Features menu and simply uninstalling IE10), problems started to crop up. Now, this doesn’t happen 100% of the time, I’ve successfully uninstalled 10 and gone back to 9 before, but this does appear to be a bug that has happened more than once. When you click a download link: NOTHING HAPPENS! I mean less than nothing. There is no “Run / Save / Cancel” window popping up, it just sits there. I spent hours trying to figure this one out, and the final solution isn’t pretty, but I’ll tell you what I had to do.

UPDATE: After enough troubleshooting and confirming with other users in the Microsoft community forums, you do not need to delete the whole profile. Simply login as the affected user (temporarily promote them to a local Administrator if necessary), then open RegEdit. Navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion and delete the Internet Settings “folder” that shows up there. Then log back in as the user and test downloads. If that doesn’t fix it, you’ll have to “go nuclear” (so to speak) as described below.

The long and short of it is, you need to start a whole new Windows profile from scratch. There are more efficient ways of doing this, to ensure the profile configuration gets copied, etc… but if all you’re really concerned about is a few files, here’s the fastest way I’ve found to do this. These steps apply to a business environment with an Active Directory domain where usernames and passwords are stored by the server. A home user should simply create a new user on their desktop within the control panel. Microsoft suggested these steps for both Home and Business users, but I couldn’t get most of that to work for me. Here are the steps I followed for the business environment:

  1. Log in to the computer as a different administrator user.
  2. Browse to the users directory (Windows Vista/7/8: C:\users).
  3. Rename the folder belonging to the user having the problem (I just add .old to the end of the folder name).
    • note: if you cannot rename the folder, reboot the computer and try again – also make sure you’re not logged in as that user – create a new admin user if necessary!
  4. Next, open RegEdit and browse to the following key:
    • hkey_local_machine\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\currentversion\ProfileList

  5. As in the picture above, click through the SID numbers on the left until you find the path that matches the username of the folder you renamed above. Delete the SID and all of the contents of that key from the left side.
  • Log out of your current user.
  • Log in as the user who had the problem. Their password will be validated by the server and their profile will be re-created from scratch.
  • Click the start menu, type CMD and press enter to open a command prompt – simply use this to ensure you are logged in as the proper user, not logged in to a TEMP profile. If the command prompt shows TEMP, you will need to go back in to REGEDIT and try again.
  • Close the command prompt and browse to C:\users\oldusername.old
  • Open a second Explorer window and browse to C:\users\newusnerame
  • Copy desired items from the “old” folder to the “new” folder (Desktop, Favorites, My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, etc…).
  • This is certainly messy and not exactly easy. I do hope that Microsoft comes up with a better solution in the near future, because I have already seen that I am not alone with this issue.