Ok so this is a big, messy and convoluted problem so please bear with me. Any help is greatly appreciated.
I'm on Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
UAC is set at the 2nd lowest level
The other day I was having problems with the search box in the start bar. It was no longer finding excel or other office apps, and also it could not run basic commands like cmd, or notepad. Whenever I ran a command it would return an error similar to this:
windows cannot find 'search:query=cmd'
I poked around a bit and tried to rebuild the index in Control Panel > Indexing Options. That did not work so I uninstalled Windows Search and reinstalled it. What i found now was that the Indexing service would not start anymore and if I manually tried to start it from services.msc I would get the following error:
Windows could not start the Windows Search service on Local Computer
Error 161: the specified path is invalid
The Event Log showed me this Application Error:
The gatherer service cannot be initialized.
The Temp folder is on a drive that is full or is inaccessible. Free up space on the drive or verify that you have write permission on the Temp folder. (HRESULT : 0x80070660) (0x80070660)