Start > All Programs displays empty program folders

Hi -- I'm hoping someone can help me. I've searched and found others who have had the same problem but no one has posted a working fix for it.

I had a virus last week that hid all the icons on my desktop, in my Start menu, and in my C: drive. I successfully removed the virus and was able to restore the icons to my desktop, C: drive, and main Start Menu, but I still have a problem. When I click "All Programs," my program folders appear, but they're all empty. The programs are still installed, but for some reason they aren't showing up when I click the folder in Start>All Programs. I can't do a system restore -- the virus deleted my restore points as well. Is there any way I can rebuild my Start menu without having to do a complete reinstall? I tried creating a new user profile, but the issue exists in the new profile as well.

I can run the programs if I type in the exact .exe file in the search bar at the bottom of my Start menu (for example, iexplore.exe), but if I just type the name of the program, Search doesn't find it. When I click Start>All Programs, it looks normal at first, but if I click on a folder (like Microsoft Office), it just says (empty) beneath the folder name.

I'm running Windows 7 Home Premium. I've verified that there are no viruses on my computer now by running MalwareBytes and SuperAntiSpyware in safe mode, and running the Avira rescue disc.

Folder options are checked to show hidden files and folders, so that's not it.


If you hover over the Start menu All programs entry then right-click & select Open and then again to select Open all users, do the shortcuts appear in the folders that open up [i.e. are we just discussing their appearance in the All programs menu]?

If the shortcuts are there [I'm just a bit unsure about the meaning of what you wrote before], then you might just get away with running the System file checker

I'd still agree with Dissed though - as the virus might have been hiding there all the time since the last attack.  There's a good procedural guide to malware removal by SpiritX in How to remove spyware from the computer  Hopefully, this will prevent a reoccurence of this infection.

Best of luck with this annoying problem.

Try*3 - a user
Dell Inspirons 7779, 1545, 9300; Windows 10 Home x64 & Pro x86; Office Pro 2007; HP DJ2540; HTC UPlay [Android 6.0], MyPhoneExplorer

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Question Info

Last updated June 18, 2019 Views 49,105 Applies to: