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Lost desktop


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#1
Chris Dillingham

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I'm working on trying to salvage a computer that was given up not long after the desktop icons and start menu / taskbar disappeared for all users. The kicker is that it's an off-brand computer (insignia) that did not include the recovery / OS CDs, so a typical repair, or a reformat/reinstall is not an option. I've tried a number of things that I think are getting me close to understanding the issue. I'm thinking at this point that it's an issue with the explorer.exe.

Notes:
I can still run programs from the control-alt-delete task manager, under file->new task (run)

sfc /scannow has no effect without the repair CD

Restoring to previous points in the registry has no effect. (I'm reasonably certain these points were before this issue began to occur, so that should have fixed it if it was a registry issue.)

It will not see my USB drive, so copying over explorer.exe from a working computer wasn't possible.

I downloaded "fixdesktop.zip" from somewhere, and although it claims to not be able to locate the file at c:new folder/fixdesktop.zip, it will jumpstart the system temporarily and give me the desktop icons, taskbar and start menu for about 20 seconds, and then they go away again. After a few seconds, they sometimes reappear, only to disappear again after several seconds. That process may repeat a few times, and then it stays gone until I try to run the fixdesktop.zip again.

I've watched the processes list when I do this, and Imapi.exe comes up after and disappears before explorer.exe, but from the research it appears that this is a harmless program and it does that anyway.

I've downloaded a couple of other tools (one from a Kelly's place that I can't recall) and it didn't help. A couple of the others (dial-a-fix, for example) come only as zip archives, which the computer claims it can't locate, even though I browse to it on the C drive to open it. I just now figured out that I could browse to it in internet explorer and extract, and that's my next step if I can find the page that told me how to use it. :whistling:

One curious thing - It needs a defrag and I need to delete the old user information anyway, so I deleted the additional users that I didn't need. I then set up a new account for myself and logged into it, but I'm not able to "kickstart" the taskbar and icons into appearing here by trying to run the fixdesktop. When I try, it pops up a window briefly that it's setting up user preferences for internet explorer, then that goes away. It feels like that should be a big clue.

I'm very close to stumped. Anyone have any ideas on how to proceed?

Thanks in advance for the help.

-Chris
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#2
macko01

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If you could a few system specs it would help us !

And is this computer connected to a network via a LAN or is it a home/buisness computer.

How old is the system ?
How long has it been like this ?
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#3
The Skeptic

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You don't need the original disk to perform repair. If you know what windows version is installed and if you have the product key on a sticker attached to the computer you can borrow a disk and run a repair.
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#4
Chris Dillingham

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IT's XP home, SP 2. I'd have to look around for a disk I could borrow. If I had to reformat/reinstall, would the code on the side of the computer still work with a different disk than what it came with?

It's an Insignia brand, 2.8 GHz pentium 4, 512 MB DDR ram, 160 GB hard drive. I'm guessing it's about three years old. I have it and another computer hooked through my DSL modem, which I suppose technically makes it on a LAN, although I don't have any networking set up between the two computers. It's been like this a month or two. It was a home computer.

Sorry to take so long responding. Busy weekend. Any thoughts?
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#5
The Skeptic

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Yes, if you have a disk of xp-sp2 Home Edition you should be able to repair or format, using the code on the sticker.
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#6
Chris Dillingham

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I'll have to check around at the office then. Any suggestions short of a reinstall?
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#7
peterm

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If you can find a disk
Repair
1101doc will get you going
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#8
1101doc

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Actually, I've been seeing quite a few "Missing explorer.exe" problems lately on this and other boards. Investigation usually leads to fairly serious malware. I suggest either a full malware removal process as described in the malware section, followed by HJT analysis by a trained specialist; or a full format and fresh install. Since 'personal' data is not affected by a "Repair" install, any malware lurking in non-system files would remain anyway.
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#9
Chris Dillingham

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Well, I'll try the repair first and see what happens, then perhaps the malware removal options. 1101 Doc is probably right. After all, he's smart enough to use Opera.
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#10
kazam

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I'm having the same problems, but getting excellent help from Didom. I've found that sometimes, if you use Task Manager to run explorer.exe it will bring the desktop back up (but may show a box with a buffer overrun message) that can help when trying to run programs saved to the desktop.
I'm not sure if it's connected, but when I managed to locate the Control Panel .exe and run it through Task Manager it brought the desktop back for longer? The location was C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\control.exe if it helps?
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