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No desktop icons except recycle bin and hard drive shows empty

    Question

  • Woke up this morning and the computer rebooted over night, when I logged in my desktop picture is still there but all my desktop icons have disappeared.  Did a quick google search and tried ending the explorer task and running it and still nothing.  Rebooted the computer a couple times and still nothing.  Then figured I'd go look into the registry to see if anything weird was showing in there and nothing. 

     

    When I click on the computer it shows my hard-drive is using 100GB of space but when I click on the c drive to view the contents it says that the folder is empty.  Verified that files weren't hidden and even after doing the show hidden files it still says it's empry.  Windows 7 seems to be operating fine even though it's showing nothing.  Computer boots up fine, the ie icons on the taskbar opens up fine, any command line commands work.

     

    Tried running the sfc scannow and came back clean, chkdsk has come back with no problems either.  Kinda at a loss as I'd rather not reinstall windows and I can't even back up the files I have as they aren't showing up.  I do get the same thing whether I boot into safe mode or not.

    Saturday, March 26, 2011 4:54 PM

Answers

  • Hi Christian,

    Running a System Restore rollback to a previous working date seems to be the best option here, as the incident has been observed only today. If you're unable to run System Restore from Windows, you may try running it from Windows RE.


    Ramesh Srinivasan | The Winhelponline Blog
    Microsoft MVP, Windows Desktop Experience
    Sunday, March 27, 2011 4:37 AM
    Answerer
  • If you can strat your Windows 7 installation program after you log in, please run In-place Upgrade to repair the system.


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread. ”
    Tuesday, March 29, 2011 9:13 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Hi Christian,

    Did you check in the users folder under C:\ Drive to see if you any other profiles were created? 

     

    Thanks,  

    Sunday, March 27, 2011 3:11 AM
  • Hi Christian,

    Running a System Restore rollback to a previous working date seems to be the best option here, as the incident has been observed only today. If you're unable to run System Restore from Windows, you may try running it from Windows RE.


    Ramesh Srinivasan | The Winhelponline Blog
    Microsoft MVP, Windows Desktop Experience
    Sunday, March 27, 2011 4:37 AM
    Answerer
  • If you can strat your Windows 7 installation program after you log in, please run In-place Upgrade to repair the system.


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread. ”
    Tuesday, March 29, 2011 9:13 AM
    Moderator
  • I am also getting this same issue. Noticed it a couple of days ago but didn't have time to look until today. When I open Computer, then open c:, it tells me that "This folder is empty.". I have also noticed that nearly all desktop icons have disappeared, except Computer and Network.

    The problem is that I can't run System Restore. When I open the Recovery window to run it, it claims "Some settings are managed by your system administrator". Now I know my account is set up as an admin, if I go into users it says System Administrator next to my account. I tried looking up this problem on google, and tried hitting F8 while Windows was loading, then going into system restore, but it says that System Restore is not enabled on the drive. I then opened up a cmd prompt, and ran "sfc /scannow" but it says that something's in progress so it can't do it. If I open a cmd prompt from Windows as an admin and run it, it scans through to 100% and says everything's fine.

    So can anyone help me, either fixing the missing c: issue without doing a system restore (preferably), or at least how I can turn system restore on?

    It's Windows 7 Home Premium, so I don't think I have group policies, (which Windows help seemed to think was the reason I couldn't turn on System Restore from within Windows). I also can't access admin tools, seems like it tries to find them on c: and can't, but everything else in control panel seems to be working. Also interesting but probably pointless info, I have some shared folders on the computer with problems, and I can view their contents from my other computer.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, as I don't like the thought of losing my files.

    Monday, April 04, 2011 7:47 AM
  • Hi,

    I got this issue today but not sure what caused it to happen. In the end I worked out that all files had been set to Hidden and my folder view options switched back to not show hidden files.

    Try the following:

    1. Open an explorer window, hit Alt to bring up the toolbar.

    2. Go into Tools> Folder options> View and set it to Show Hidden Files.

    3. You should now see all your files/folders in C: drive again but they will be greyed out.

    4. Select all files and folders, right click and select Properties.

    5. Uncheck the Hidden attribute, choose Ok and apply to all files and sub folders.

    Hopefully this should resolve your issue.

    Colin.

    • Proposed as answer by OpsuPup Thursday, April 07, 2011 5:04 AM
    Wednesday, April 06, 2011 3:48 PM
  • You're a life saver! Never would have thought of that.. Now I'm thinking the antivirus and antimalware software I hurried to install may not have been that far off the mark. But setting it to show hidden files has fixed my problem, thankyou very much!
    Thursday, April 07, 2011 5:04 AM
  • You're a life saver! Never would have thought of that.. Now I'm thinking the antivirus and antimalware software I hurried to install may not have been that far off the mark. But setting it to show hidden files has fixed my problem, thankyou very much!
    Glad that helped......it took me about 7 hours to get to that point after various malware/virus scans and numerous attempts at system restore (all my restore points seemed to be corrupt). I was ready to do a full OS repair just before working out that the files were simply hidden. I've never seen anything like it before and am really intrigued as to what caused it. 
    Thursday, April 07, 2011 8:39 PM
  • That also helped me. It happened to my computer yesterday and I was freaking out.

    I happened upon this forum and you saved me.

    Well done sir

    Friday, April 08, 2011 11:42 PM
  • I have similiar issue. Today I turned the system on and started surfing the net and then i started getting harddrive errors. I tried rebooting and all my icons were gone. I went into the folders on ym hd and they all showed empty. I system restored and now my icons are back but folders are still showing empty and a bunch of my programs like Pro Tools crash on startup. I dont know what is going on here. I am completely freaked out as I just built this system and have not setup a backup yet and I have an old HD that has alot of important data that is now showing empty folders.... Any ideas?

     

    Monday, April 11, 2011 6:06 PM
  • Most likley the hard drive errors are being produced by a virus/malware. I had the same issue on a customers computer today. There was a program creating the fake hard drive errors. I had to go into safe mode with networking, download malwarebytes, got that to allow me to access task manager, back to normal mode, ended the task, ran malwarebytes again to completely remove everything and used CCleaner Startup tool to delete the entries from startup. Glad I found this post, the virus it marked everything hidden never seen that before.
    Tuesday, April 19, 2011 4:13 PM
  • God has blessed you!!! Thanks!
    Thursday, April 21, 2011 9:37 PM
  • God has blessed you!!! Thanks!


    I had a customer with the same thing, after setting to display hidden all was revealed, reset read only flag, but aren't there some/many files or directories that should be hidden or read only,  W7P. 

     

    Thanks

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011 8:01 PM
  • Woke up this morning and the computer rebooted over night, when I logged in my desktop picture is still there but all my desktop icons have disappeared.  Did a quick google search and tried ending the explorer task and running it and still nothing.  Rebooted the computer a couple times and still nothing.  Then figured I'd go look into the registry to see if anything weird was showing in there and nothing. 

     

    When I click on the computer it shows my hard-drive is using 100GB of space but when I click on the c drive to view the contents it says that the folder is empty.  Verified that files weren't hidden and even after doing the show hidden files it still says it's empry.  Windows 7 seems to be operating fine even though it's showing nothing.  Computer boots up fine, the ie icons on the taskbar opens up fine, any command line commands work.

     

    Tried running the sfc scannow and came back clean, chkdsk has come back with no problems either.  Kinda at a loss as I'd rather not reinstall windows and I can't even back up the files I have as they aren't showing up.  I do get the same thing whether I boot into safe mode or not.

    Sounds like the FakeFrag Trojan hit your PC. I had to clean that one off a business machine. Not fun! Restoring the system from a date prior to the attack will disable it and as mentioned, un-hiding the files will get you back up and running but I would first make sure all the Microsoft updates are current and Internet Security software is up to date and then use the free unhide.exe to un-hide all the files. The Trojan moves files as well as hides them. Unhide is supposed to move them back to there original location.
    Friday, July 01, 2011 1:34 PM
  • Thanks, Colin. It solved my problem as well!
    Sunday, September 18, 2011 6:58 PM
  • Thanks a lot Colin, had this problem when I was experimenting with my PC :D
    Tuesday, November 01, 2011 4:42 PM
  • This worked!  Awesome Job!  Thank you!
    Monday, November 07, 2011 6:48 PM
  • I tried everything today for 7 hours, but this was the only solution, Thank you
    Friday, November 11, 2011 3:12 AM
  • you are a life saver bro it works great now damn virus i thought i lost all my backup data thanks.........Int03h
    Tuesday, November 15, 2011 4:08 PM
  • I just wanted to add a little something, since I encountered this problem today after installing the most recent update... I followed your instructions Colin, and it actually surprised me when the icons did not show up - since as you, quite rightly, pointed out the "Show Hidden Files" box was unchecked. Still checking it didn't get me to where I wanted to go. I still had no icons on my desktop.

    It took me a while of fooling around but I eventually discovered that a right-click on the empty desktop revealed the pulldown that allowed me to see "View" as the first option.  Clicking on "View" allowed me to scroll down to... "Show Desktop Icons!" Wha'da'ya'know? it worked!. I never would have got there without you leading the way. You really got me thinking in the right direction.

    Thanks!

    Jon 

    • Proposed as answer by XoZooMe Saturday, November 19, 2011 3:30 AM
    Friday, November 18, 2011 2:03 AM
  • OMG I have been up alnight trying to fix this issue.  Then I ran across your post - and Presto so simple and it is working.  Thank You.
    Sunday, November 20, 2011 7:56 PM
  • Thanks for the help, you saved me.
    Sunday, November 27, 2011 10:52 PM
  • Thank you Colin, you have saved me a lot of time by posting this. God bless you!
    Monday, November 28, 2011 11:16 AM
  • It's not caused by malware.  This is a Windows 7 bug that Microsoft has not fixed yet.
    Saturday, December 17, 2011 7:45 AM
  • Colin,

    Thanks a million. The technique worked.  The solution, after applying it, may seem simple. However, I fully understand that it is the last of a long list of attempts.  The last one is always the successful one.

    This happened to me today. Like you and others, I'm not sure just why.

    Solved! Thanks again for the time spent and for sharing your solution.

    Grant

    Sunday, December 25, 2011 11:05 AM
  • I have spent hours trying to retreive my 'empty folder'.  You are my hero!  This worked like a charm!
    Friday, December 30, 2011 12:45 AM
  • I actually registered for a user name just so I could reply to this thread and give my utter thanks.  I thought I was so screwed.  Spent most of the night, like so many others have mentioned already, trying to solve it on my own.  I even almost spent 100 dollars on some file recovery softwear.  It's times like these that I'm glad there's an internet
    Saturday, January 21, 2012 9:32 AM
  • i have the same problem.But I tried a system restore but it says that my antivirus probram is blocking an acces to a file.it says that i should disable it and try again.can anyone give any useful tips on solving this issue.I would appriciate it. tnx.

    p.s sorry for the bad english...

    Monday, February 06, 2012 8:56 PM
  • Add me to the list of grateful people who registered to thank everyone for this thread.  My daughter's computer was displaying phony hard drive error messages, attempting some kind of scan, and all icons and files were invisible. 

    1.  System Restore to an earlier time, allow Windows Updates

    2.  Download and run Malwarebytes, perform quick scan (many Trojans removed)

    3.  Restore hidden icons and files, transfer them to external hard drive (homework saved!)

    4.  Perform full system scan with Malwarebytes (more Trojans found, deleted)

    5.  Repair, restore, Norton Antivirus and run their scan

    6.  Seems to be running like new!

    THANK YOU to all who bothered to post these solutions.  Handy tip I learned the hard way ... I never try to repair our laptops by myself anymore without first using someone else's computer to search for solutions like this to save many hours of heartache and frustration.  My daughter, however, has not yet grasped the importance of regular external back-ups to save all of her school and recreational files!!  Hopefully this time she will learn.

    Saturday, February 11, 2012 3:32 AM
  • Wow what a inventive way of fffing up a system. Thanks for the info I never would have thought of it even though it makes perfect sense. My kids messed up 2 sytems with this virus and my wife lost here data until now.
    Thursday, March 01, 2012 8:23 PM
  • Thank you Colin! You help me solve the problem! Quickest fix ever.
    Monday, March 12, 2012 9:40 AM
  •  Hi,

    one of my user is facing the similar kind of issue initillay it was showed Memory full even though i have 2 gb space after i restore my system C: Local Disk fonts are in Blue colour and in D: only folders are displaying not even single file is not showing inside the folder pls can anyone suggest me for this issue

    Regards

    Prabu

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 10:24 AM
  • Hey Colin, just wanted to take 5 minutes to thank you while Malwarebytes finishes a full scan to hunt down potential stragglers. So simple, yet... You're a real lifesaver !

    Makes sense in a way : Anti-Viruses software can only get rid of the malware, not reverse their nasty effects. Clever trick on the part of the little SOB who designed it, very simple yet absolutely terrifying for us victims.

    I'll make sure to always keep a rope and a cold beer handy, in case I ever meet either one of you ;)

    Cheers, and thanks again !

    Monday, March 19, 2012 12:52 AM
  • Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    I thought I lost everything! I can't believe it was as simple as hidden folders.

    Thursday, March 29, 2012 11:16 PM
  • I'm having the exact same problems, but with an additional issue: when I try to run anything, click any links, etc, my computer freezes up, making it impossible to implement the fix of running malwarebytes to remove any viruses. Anyone have any suggestions, or do I just need to suck it up and reformat?
    Tuesday, April 10, 2012 3:51 PM
  • Amanda.b

    First I would download and install superantispyware make sure you have all the definition updates if you cant download on the infected pc download to a flash drive and on there website they should have the most up to date file that you can download (for the definitions). After you have done that restart your pc in safe mode with out internet access then run malwarebytes and superantispyware.

    Thanks for the help on this issue Collin!!!!!!


    • Edited by janylor84 Monday, April 16, 2012 5:03 AM
    Monday, April 16, 2012 5:02 AM
  • Hey man,

    I was gone for two days, got home and my brother told me he fried my computer. I system restored it and got it running again, then i found your post for the hidden files. Thanks a million, i wont have to kill my brother now lol.

    Friday, April 20, 2012 3:32 PM
  • Colin, You are brilliant, your information is still current and works!

    I had the S.M.A.R.T. trojan on my computer, I downloaded the Malwarebytes free anti malware and it found 11 threats, it removed these threats (trojans) then I installed Norton Internet security, then had no info, desktop icons or any of my work on the computer but it still showed that I still had information on the harddrive - just couldnt access it. I followed all of the above and TA-DA it all appeared just as it was before! Thanks alot!

    Friday, May 11, 2012 5:16 AM
  • My friend came up to me with a similar problem. I restored the system to a previous working condition/date and then thought that the folders should have gone to a hidden mode but did not know how to undo it for all the folders at a single go. This post helped me with it and now I could access all the files as usual. 

    Thanks.

    • Proposed as answer by jaguJC Sunday, June 10, 2012 7:08 PM
    Sunday, June 10, 2012 7:07 PM