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Windows 7: Desktop shortcuts dissapear

26 Mar 2013   #1

Desktop shortcuts dissapear

Good morning everyone,

A customer of us is having a strange issue since a while.

They have about 10 systems with the same specs / software ( not there at the moment, so if these are of any importance let me know ) and 1 by 1 they seem to get this issue.

It started about 2 months ago with 1 system. Desktop shortcuts started dissapearing. Not all of them tough. Computer / Documents / Recycle Bin don't get removed, but all other shortcuts you've added to the desktop dissapear.
At first we tough we were handling with malware so we scanned with Norman AV, Malwarebytes, Spyware Doctor. No results, no treaths. The problem did persist tough so we decided to do a clean install of the system. Little time passed as the problem continued. We decided to just replace the system then as a test. A couple of weeks it went well and all of a sudden the icons were gone again. Once again same thing, no malware found, profile settings were okay. Just the desktop icons were gone.

Right now there are 3 systems with the same issue and we are at a loss.
Like I allready stated above, I'm not there at the moment so I can't give you exact specs or whatever so please let me know what information you want / require in order to help me. It would be much appreciated.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

26 Mar 2013   #2

W7 Pro SP1 64bit

I am sorry that your client has this problem, but I am glad to see your post. I was beginning to think that I was the only person seeing this.

I have several desktops that have this issue. They might have one or two shortcuts disappear every few days or they may go for weeks without losing one. One system lost more than half in one day. Some shortcuts were to files/apps on a server, but others where local. e.g. a shortcut to the network and sharing center. Some shortcuts that went away are used every weekday - so it should not be a desktop cleanup routine.

My laptop has done this too; in particular, the shortcuts to each network adapter that I added to my desktop.

I don't have solution for you, but I do have a few questions:

What theme are they using?

Because of some apps that I run I must use the basic theme and I tell the OS to adjust that for best performance.

Do you use MS RDC/RDP to access these computers?
If so, are you using RDP 8?

Any other remote control software installed?

I've not put too much effort in solving this since Windows 7 is already costing us many lost man hours... but I am curious as to the cause/solution.

These systems are near my desk, so see them every work day. I don't use all of them myself, I just see them. The users ask me why this happens and I help them put them back. It probably does not matter, but I make the icons via:
right click on a file
select copy from the context menu
right click on the desktop
select paste shortcut from the context menu

I thought about writing a little app that inventories the shortcuts and writes the status/time to a log file so that I could try to correlate the disappearing act with events in the OS events logs... but I have more pressing matters to solve with Windows 7.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Mar 2013   #3

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 x64 Home Premium (and x86 VirtualBox VM)

My immediate thought is that desktop cleanup is misbehaving - check that it's switched off.

Second thought is perhaps malware - ZeroAccess can do similar things.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

28 Mar 2013   #4


Hey there and thanks for the imput.
First of all I apologize for the late reply. Been very busy with some other stuff and we also found the solution to this problem. Maybe instead of helping me I help you out on this one UsernameIssues!

The problem is caused by the problemsolver. During passive scans the problemsolver checks for "disconnected" shortcuts. As soon as it spots 4 disconnected icons ( even if the connection works, just the buggy disconnected icon ) it "cleans" those disconnected icons. However, most of the time it removes more icons then it is supposed to be.

In other words, disabling the problemsolver should solve the problem. Isn't it ironic?

Thanks again for the replies tough and hope you can solve your issue with this to.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Mar 2013   #5

W7 Pro SP1 64bit

Thanks for posting your solution. And thanks NoelDP for your input!

I have been too busy to do much with this topic. I've been cleaning up a some infections from computers and a file server that I support. Computers not related too (or on the same network as) the ones that I mentioned above.

After one computer lost more than half of its shortcuts, we turned off the desktop cleanup wizard as an experiment - only time will tell if that is the culprit.

I have found that setting up the desktop (creating/positioning shortcuts/icons) on a remote machine while using RDPv8 can cause shortcuts to not be there upon reboot... so I've stopped doing that.

I just find it odd (and frustrating) that this is happening to so many of our Windows 7 computers. I was beginning to suspect the users were trying to drive me crazy :-)

I've given up on putting the shortcuts back. I'm letting the users do that themselves.

Thanks again for posting back.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Mar 2013   #6

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1

Okay folks; I have no idea what a desktop cleanup tool is.
Could someone give me a hint?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Mar 2013   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1, Windows 8.1 Pro x64

See this.

Disappearing Desktop Icons

"The Desktop Cleanup Wizard is part of the System Maintenance Troubleshooter."
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Mar 2013   #8

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1

Thank you pbcopter. That was very helpful. Mine has been off for ever.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Mar 2013   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 x64 Home Premium (and x86 VirtualBox VM)

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by UsernameIssues View Post
I just find it odd (and frustrating) that this is happening to so many of our Windows 7 computers. I was beginning to suspect the users were trying to drive me crazy :-)

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Mar 2013   #10

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1

Being paranoid is another layer of security.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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