Windows XP Professional - Desktop Folders Disappeared, Shortcuts and Other Icons Are Still There

Hello!

I am working on a laptop with Windows XP Professional, Service Pack 3. Yesterday all of my folders on my desktop disappeared. The shortcuts that I have for programs and shortcuts to other folders, as well as the other standard Desktop icons (Recycle Bin, My Documents, My Computer) still remain. I checked the Recycle Bin and all of the shortcuts for the other folders to see if I had somehow accidentally dragged and dropped my desktop folders into any of them. I did not find my missing Desktop folders in any of these places.

I also ran a Windows Search for one of the folders using the folder name, and the search came up blank. I also did a Windows Search for some of the files that were in the missing folders and the search came up blank.

How and why did my desktop folders disappear? What can I do to retrieve them?

Any guidance, help, or suggestions are appreciated. Thank you for your help!!

Digi P.

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What happens when you right-click the Desktop > Arrange icons > Show Desktop icons?

If Show Desktop icons is missing you need to change a registry key, so create a System Restore point first.

Now open a Run window (Windows key+R), type regedit, press Enter and in the left pane navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

In the right pane, double-click NoActiveDesktopChanges and set it to 0 (zero) then double-click NoActiveDesktop and set it to 0 (zero). If neither of the keys exist, it’s a different issue.

Close Registry Editor and restart the computer.

 

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Hi, Burr-

I have tried system restores using multiple dates and the only thing it changed was my Windows logon password- the folders are still missing.

Also, an update: I had more icons, this time a shortcut to another folder as well as my standard Microsoft Outlook desktop icon, disappear from the desktop. It seems to be ones that I actively use for at least 30 minutes a day. Unfortunately I don't know when they disappear, but I am guessing it is soon after I close them.

I have the "Show Desktop Icons" checkmarked. I went in through the regedit but have no "NoActiveDesktopChanges." The three items I have in the section you mentioned above are:
(Default)
NoDriveAutoRun
NoDriveTypeAutoRun

Thanks for your help,
-Digi

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I don’t know what else to suggest other than running MBAM to check for anything nasty. Download the free Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware from http://www.malwarebytes.org/  Double Click mbam-setup.exe to install it. Follow the prompts but make sure ticks are placed next to ‘Update Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware’ and ‘Launch Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware’ then click Finish. If an update is found, it will download and install the latest version.

Also, you could look at the contents of both Desktop folders and see if anything is obviously wrong or mysteriously moving between them. Go to Start, Run, type Shell:Common Desktop and press Enter for all users and change it to Shell:Desktop for your account.

Good luck.

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Last updated November 4, 2020 Views 7,588 Applies to: