Desktop icons & taskbar disappeared on XP - please, please help me!

By Laura1979 ยท 9 replies
Feb 17, 2008
  1. Hi all
    I'm a newbie and I'm in absolute despair because of this problem. I hope someone can come to my rescue because I've ran out of things to try. I'm using Windows XP OS and I had Norton Antivirus on it but I've had lots of problems with it so decided to try something else. At a friend's suggestion, I uninstalled Norton and downloaded a free trial version of AVG. It loaded up fine and installed but when I rebooted, It wouldn't let me log back on either on my own profile or on the guest profile. It would say "logging on" and then "logging off" and log me back out. I managed to get in, in safe mode and uninstalled AVG. I rebooted again and it allowed me to log on but all my desktop icons and my taskbar had disappeared. My desktop pic was still there but that was all. I tried right clicking to restore the desktop but it wouldn't allow it so I pressed ctrl alt & del and called up the task manager. That worked fine and I was able to open up programs through the task manager but couldn't restore the items back to the desktop. After doing a google search about my problem I found a few suggestions to try. I went to the processes list on task manager and looked for explorer.exe but it wasn't there, I then tried to manually open explorer by selecting file, new task and typing in explorer.exe. I got an error message saying windows could not find it. Then I tried to restore my system to an earlier date by going through the task manager into my start menu and trying the system restore but it wouldn't let me as the only date highlighted was today (after all my problems had started).
    I really have no clue as to how to fix this problem so I hope someone out there can help me.

    Many Thanks

    L xxx
  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Check the Shell value for Winlogon in your registry.

    In Safe Mode
    Click on Start-->Run-->Regedit

    And locate: (by expanding the + signs)
    • Microsoft
    • Windows NT
    • CurrentVersion
    • Winlogon
    In the right hand field locate Shell
    Confirm it says Explorer.exe
    And nothing else
  3. Laura1979

    Laura1979 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Shell value looks normal

    Hi there!

    Thank you so much for your reply. Went into safe mode and followed your instructons and Explorer.exe is the only thing that it says next to shell. Any other suggestions would be much appreciated.

    L xxx
  4. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Back to Safe Mode

    Click: Start-->Run-->MSConfig OK
    Select "Diagnostic" Mode. Appy, OK

    In Normal mode, hopefully you see your Desktop
    If so, re-run MSconfig, and select one box at a time (restarting after each change)
    Until you find the area that is causing the issue (probably in Startup group)
  5. Laura1979

    Laura1979 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hi there

    Did as you suggested but even in diagnostic mode I still have no desktop after rebooting :( Does this mean that the fault isn't fixable?

    L xxx
  6. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Definately not, everything is fixable.

    Mind you, you do have three choices:

    Windows Repair


    Start --> Run--> CMD OK
    SFC /ScanNow


    Windows Clean Install:
    Now with this one, you must backup any/all important data files first. This can include:
    My Documents
    Other data folder locations (ie sometimes users store data on C:\ root (the start of C:/)
    Network settings (Internet and email including usernames/passwords/Favorites/Network Settings)
    Email (Including all mail and address book)
    Licence keys (including Windows key and all other bought program licence details)
    Drivers (Including any drivers not available from CD)
    Programs (Any program intact (full) )
    User settings (Wallpapers Screensavers and many other custommizations)

    So you do have a choice to try Repair first. But you need to be aware that Windows Repair:
    Always to backups (see above)
    Requires your Windows Product Key
    Removes all Windows Security Updates
    Virus/Malware will likely remain!

    Please choose
  7. whitelatte

    whitelatte TS Rookie Posts: 19

    i had this sort of problem before and i ended up installing my pc all over again. I was lucky i partition my HDD and save all my data there. Now i am using Norton Ghost. Is this a good alternative?
  8. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    I use Norton Ghost all the time, I find it the best (debate-able I'm sure)
    So yes.
  9. whitelatte

    whitelatte TS Rookie Posts: 19

    Hi Laura1979, you might want to use Norton Ghost once you are up and running. It's as simple as unplug the 'crashed' HDD and replace it with the new one. Unless you don't mind having to wait a few days before you get to use your computer.
  10. rzrblade

    rzrblade TS Rookie


    Had the same problem. Visit One Care Live .com and run the protection scan. Solved the problem for me
Topic Status:
Not open for further replies.

Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...