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Windows 7: Moved or missing files

10 Jan 2011   #1

Windows 7 Pro X64
Moved or missing files

I discovered a week or so ago that some of my desktop images had changed but as weird things tend to happen when using windows I didn't think too much about it until I tried to run one of the games whose icon had changed. A message appeared saying the the file 'something.exe' has moved or is missing and can't be started.
I have searched for the file (which later ended up being files ) using the start menu search and all that appears is the now broken desktop icon. My .exe files are just gone. Unfortunatley a game that I had worked hundreds of hours on modding has also vanished. My entire nwmain.exe file is gone as is countless downloads for the Neverwinter Nights game and expansions. I've done a restore to before this happened but to no avail. Any ideas? Sorry if this has been posted before, I did look but after a while I stopped looking as it didn't look to be a recent problem.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

10 Jan 2011   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1

Have you tried using Windows Explorer and the "Search Libraries" box in the upper right corner to find your missing file? (Search while "Computer" is selected in the left pane)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Jan 2011   #3


Hi twar, welcome.

In addition to TVeblen's advice, try right clicking on the shortcut, choose properties, choose Shortcut tab to get the 'path' of the file (as seen in screenshot). You can try clicking on the 'Open file location' button, but it may not have any effect.

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In Windows Explorer, browse to the folder specified in the 'Start In' field. Try this with a number of the shortcuts you have. Are the folders there? Do you see the .exe files in the folder?

If the folders and exe files are there, you may have picked up a virus or malware. You can download the free version of malwarebytes here:

Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware: Malwarebytes

If you don't have a virus program, you can download the free MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials) here:

Do a full scan in both (one at a time). If it is indeed a virus or malware, allow the respective programs to clean up the system. If an infection is found and your exe files still don't work, you may have to repair the associations, but we can cross that bridge as it comes.

Follow TVeblen's advice first, then follow the steps in this post. Please post back when you have resolved the problem so that others may benefit from your experience.


My System SpecsSystem Spec

10 Jan 2011   #4

Windows 7 Pro X64

thanks for the welcome and thanks for both posts TVeblen and James Colbert!

I'm responding from my Mac at work so I'll only be able to try your suggestions later tonight but will do so as soon as I can. I'm just glad someone is willing to help.
I'll let you know how it goes.
Cheers, twar.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Jan 2011   #5

Windows 8 Core X64

Give Shadow Explorer a try. It may find a copy for you. Works well on my Pro X64 system.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jan 2011   #6


Thank you James Colbert!
I got the same problem with
After I followed your instruction, I fix the problem.
And sign up quickly to post here to express my sincere thanks.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jan 2011   #7

Windows 7 Pro X64

I'm thrilled that it worked for you Ailen! Unfortunately I haven't been able to locate the missing .exe files using the methods described above. I was hoping for a quick fix lol. I did the scans for malware like you suggested anyways and nothing came up. I do have a couple things in quarantine in my AVG vault however, though when I looked at the files a while back they didn't seem to be from anything to do with the files that are currently missing. I'll take another look. Anything else I should try?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jan 2011   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1

Is your computer used only by you? Do other people use it?
Is there a possibility that someone using your computer accidentally made changes?

It is unusual for data to go missing so specifically.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jan 2011   #9

Windows 7 Pro X64

It is possible but very unlikely that anything was changed by someone in the house. I have 2 kids that watch youtube videos under pretty strict surveillance in case they start watching something not appropriate or start messing with the computer. My wife wouldn't erase something either.

The fact that 2 program icons changed from actual game icons to windows generic looking icons at the same time and all but the shortcut vanished it seemed really weird to me. It could have been erased by some unknowing hands I guess...

Let's say that is what happened, is there any way to recover those lost files?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jan 2011   #10

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1

You can "recover" them if you can find them. If they were deleted, or the programs were uninstalled, then not. (Nothing in the Recycle Bin I guess?)

It is not unusual for the desktop shortcuts (icons) to lose the path to the executable file for the program. You can redirect those back. But without the program files to point to this would be "pointless".

Are the games in question listed in the Start > Programs list?
If So you can right click on it and choose Properties and it will show you where the file is.

Are the games in question listed in the Control Panel > Remove A Program list?

Have you done a manual search through both of the C:\Program Files folders?
If you can't find them then they are gone.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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