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Missing Start Menu, Taskbar, Desktop Icons other Issues


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#1
rjpfletcher

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To Start: I do not have an original XP Install Disc nor a Recovery Disc, but do have I386 Folder located in C:/Windows

About a month or so ago, I was using "Revo Uninstaller" to uninstall things I felt were unneccesary. I used the Advanced Removal to get rid of everything related to the program. I went online to read about each program before deleting it, to confirm deletion was safe. Unfortunately, once I restarted my computer, My Desktop Icons, Start Menu, & Taskbar disappeared, leaving only my Desktop Background & the ability to use Task Manager to access the majority of my programs. Not sure if this caused it, but it was the "very last thing" I did.

I've done numerous hours of searching the internet, & finally decided to get professional advice/help related to my "specific" situation. I've read many scenario's similar to mine & at some point in the Tech's troubleshooting process, it didn't seem to fit my specific scenario in a safe manner, so I need direct help.

Here are some things I've tried to no avail/and also some issues:
1. Replaced a copy of explorer.exe into the Registry over the existing one per a video I watched
2. Ran Avast, CCleaner, Registry Mechanic, Windows Doctor, System Restore-Truly Useless, Malwarebytes (No Viruses)
3. Using the Run utility in Task Manager: explorer.exe, control.exe & Similar (The Start Menu/Taskbar comes up very briefly-blinks then gone)
4. I've ran sfc.exe /scannow (No issue found)
5. I tried downloading an ISO Image XP SP2 File to burn to Disc, and it does actually download to a folder I specify, but when I try to use the Free ISO Image Burner to open the File, it says it doesn't exist. Plus when I go to the Folder it's just blank. However, when I try another download, I see the previous download in the Folder! This happens to several different types of downloads of files/programs, yet at times I've had success. Quite Strange!
6. I tried doing an XP Repair using the I386 folder, by selecting WINNT32 but a message came up immediately stating exactly: "The option to upgrade will not be available at this time because setup was unable to load the file C:\Windows\I386\Winntupg\Netupgrd.DLL This system cannot find the file specified." I select ok, and it brings up a window to do a New Install of XP with risk of losing existing data, etc...WHICH I WANT TO AVOID. Yes I've backed up important things to me for the most part, but don't want to have to reinstall everything again, and all the user settings, IE stuff, etc. if it's possible to avoid by other solutions that may be quicker/easier or the like.

I can try to borrow another XP Disc from family/friends but I suspect it must match SP2/my Specific computer, etc.

Maybe if you can look at info on my system using HijackThis or log files and such, the problem can be found.


Thanks!!! Patiently waiting for a reply.

P.S. I've probably tried other solutions, but I can't remember what they are at this point & it's bedtime.
So, any thoughts, actions, solutions from the Geeks to go Squad?!
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#2
godawgs

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Hi rjpfletcher,

Welcome to GeeksToGo. The loss of the Start Menu, ect; sounds like the changes made to your computer caused by the FakeHDD family of rogue anti-spyware programs. Often times when the program is uninstalled or removed the items you list will be hidden.
At a command prompt, type the following line, then press the ENTER key:
(To get a command prompt(blinking cursor), press the Ctrl+Shift+Esc keys. This will bring up the Task Manager. On the Task Manager window make sure the Applications tab is the active tab. At the bottom of the Applications tab click the New Task button. In the Create New Task window type cmd.exe in the Open box and click Open. A black command window will open up.)

dir C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\smtmp\*.* (Then press the enter key)
If the resulting display in the command window shows a smtmp folder with files in it then you have at some point been infected bt this rouge anti-spyware program.

Back at the blinking cursor type:

dir C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Desktop\smtmp\*.* (then press the enter key)
If there is a smtmp folder in the resulting folder this is a confirmation that you picked up one of those nasties.

Back at the blinking cursor type exitand press the ENTER. This will close the command window.
If the smtmp folders are there you should look under the Security section of the forums for the Virus, Spyware, Malware Removal forum. Click the BEGIN HERE: Malware and Spyware Cleaning Guide » link and follow the directions there to post your issue. (obviously you won't need to complete Step 1 as you already have an account.) In your post please put a link to this post so the malware tech can see what you have already tried.

Even if your computer doesn't show the smtmp folders, the symptoms you describe still sound like an infection of some kind and I would recommend posting in the Virus, Spyware, Malware Removal forum just to rule that out.

Good luck!
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#3
rjpfletcher

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I thought you guys send an email to let us know of a post, that's why I'm just now responding. (I'm new to the process of using a Tech online)

1st Action: I typed exactly - dir C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\smtmp\*.*
The Result: The system cannot find the file specified.
2nd Action: I typed exactly: dir C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Desktop\smtmp\*.*
The Result: Same as 1st action

I keep my computer cleaned regurarly, but do understand your suggestion about malware, spyware, etc. But I wanted to bring something to your attention I forgot to mention in my Original Post, and what drive's me to think it isn't Spyware, Malware (again, not ruling that out, you're the Tech).

As mentioned, the issue happened "right after" deleting certain programs (Do not recall specific ones, unfortunately) using Revo Uninstaller and restarting computer. I was on the Revo Uninstaller (Advanced
Method) screen where you are to select anything listed in "Black" to safely (generally) delete, but...I did an unusual thing - for me - on one specific program I was deleting...I deleted the Folders that drop down revealing the "in black" items they recommend deleting. Now, I thought their "Read Me" file said this was fine, but may have misunderstood. Plus the program was one that I was not 100% sure about deleting (wish I could remember what it was). Could this have been a PROGRAM that had files attached (based on the drop down folders I deleted) that caused this issue? Always before I only deleted what was in Black, not the Drop down Folder, unless the whole Drop Down folder was in Black.

Thanks much!

P.s. If I can obtain a copy of Windows XP CD (I have my original Computer License) would doing an XP Repair fix it and be the simplest method?

Edited by rjpfletcher, 16 January 2012 - 10:07 PM.

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#4
godawgs

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Hi rjpfletcher

To answer the notification problem, at the top of this page click on "My Settings". On the Your Options page that comes up, in the left hand column, click on Notification Options. On that options page look for Notification Preferences and click the box beside Watch Every topic I reply To.

Under the Topics & Posts heading, click the Email box beside the first two items, Notification method to use for new topics and topic digests and Notification method to use for topic replies and reply digests.
You can make any other notification changes on this page. Then at the bottom of the page click the Save Changes button.

As to the other problem...As you can see I'm just a student. But if it isn't malware, you may well have deleted the folders/files that contain the items you are missing. But maybe there is something that you can do short of doing a XP Repair Install. Try the System Restore Tool first. Once it is loaded, see if there is a Restore Point dated before you started having the problems and restore the computer to that point.
To run the System Restore from a command prompt follow the directions on this page.

Hope this helps.
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#5
rjpfletcher

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Thanks for your quick response time!

Yeah, those settings were already set, but thanks.

And System Restore, you may recall I indicated as useless, "no Restore Point" :upset:
Not sure if it was enabled or not. Thanks for suggesting though.

I guess I will do an XP Repair, heard it was a good method, that avoids loss of data, info, etc.

Even though you are a student, one thing you definitely have under your training belt, is common courtesy, so thanks!

Have a great one, and any other suggestions are welcomed; there's always the possibility that the repair might not work.
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#6
godawgs

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Hi again,

I swear this thing acts like a rogue antispyware program. But if it is missing system files, let me contact one of the best techs on the board and have him take a look at this thread. If it's just missing files he can guide you thru running the system file checker and check disk. But you will probably need the XP CD.
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#7
Ztruker

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Hi. Godawgs asked me to drop by and see if I could help.

After the last use of Revo, all you have is an empty Desktop with a background, right?

What happens if you start Task Manager then click on File / New Task (Run) then type explorer and press the Enter key? Does you normal desktop appear?

If it does then do a restart and see if it's there on the next boot.
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#8
rjpfletcher

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Yes, empty Desktop after last using Revo. Neither Chkdsk (Ran 2x), nor Syst File checker (Ran 1x) fixed issue.

I also tried just typing "explorer" (of course w/o quotes) w/same result as below from my Original Post.

From my Original Post:
Using the Run utility in Task Manager I've : Typed explorer.exe, control.exe & Similar (The Start Menu/Taskbar comes up very briefly-blinks then gone).
As mentioned, the issue happened "right after" deleting certain programs (Do not recall specific ones, unfortunately) using Revo Uninstaller and restarting computer. I was on the Revo Uninstaller (Advanced
Method) screen where you are to select anything listed in "Black" to safely (generally) delete, but...I did an unusual thing - for me - on one specific program I was deleting...I deleted the Folders that drop down revealing the "in black" items they recommend deleting. Now, I thought their "Read Me" file said this was fine, but may have misunderstood. Plus the program was one that I was not 100% sure about deleting (wish I could remember what it was). Could this have been a PROGRAM that had files attached (based on the drop down folders I deleted) that caused this issue? Always before I only deleted what was in Black, not the Drop down Folder, unless the "whole" Drop Down folder was in Black.

I have an XP CD I was able to obtain, and can do the Repair XP - I Have a Tech page on how to do it, by guy named Tim Fisher from About.com

Thanks!

Edited by rjpfletcher, 18 January 2012 - 01:19 PM.

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#9
Ztruker

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That's how I've always used Revo as well. Advanced mode: For registry items I just select all the Delete selected. Ditto for files an folders.

Is Show Desktop Icons checked if you right click on the Desktop and click on Arrange Icons By?
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#10
rjpfletcher

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I know what you're speaking of...but I can't right click on the desktop, that's broken too.

Another interesting fact: using Magic ISO Maker, I have full access to my desktop, folders, etc, which I don't using Task Manager, whereas some folders just show up Blank.

Edited by rjpfletcher, 19 January 2012 - 04:02 PM.

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#11
Ztruker

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Follow the directions here to create a new account. If everything is okay there then continue with the rest of the instructions:

http://support.micro...om/?kbid=811151

Or follow these directions posted in GeeksToGo.com
  • Boot to Safe Mode, login as Administrator
  • Show all files by opening My Computer, Tools menu, View tab, check Show Hidden Files/Folders then uncheck Hide extensions for known filetypes and Hide protected operating system files [Recommended]. Click Apply then OK.
  • Create a new Administrator level account via Control Panel / User Accounts.. Pick a good name as you will be keeping it.
  • Reboot the computer.
  • Login with the new account so the folder structure under Documents and Settings gets created, then log off.
  • Boot to Safe Mode, login as Administrator
  • Browse to c:\documents and settings\OldUserAccount
  • Select everything in that folder, including sub folders, except the three files called ntuser.dat, ntuser.dat.log, and ntuser.ini.
  • Copy all those files into c:\documents and settings\NewUserAccount. Reply Yes or Yes to all when duplicate folders or files are found.
  • Reboot the computer and login with your New user account.
Once you confirm that all your documents are located in My Documents of the New user, and everything works okay, you can delete the old profile.
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#12
rjpfletcher

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Booted into Safe Mode and the screen was Black, but at the top it showed words all the way across, I believe indicating I was in Safe Mode. Rebooted again, same thing. Pulled up Task Manager opened "My Computer" but no Tools Folder under this way of pulling it up.
Tried using Magic ISO Maker, but in Safe Mode it was extremely limited so once again couldn't literally open "My Computer" Folder the way you would normally open it up, if I weren't having the Start Menu, Taskbar, etc, issue. So I cannot setup a new user. Would it defeat the purpose setting up a new user in my current user account, because using Magic ISO Maker I can get to the Control Panel and looks like all the way to setup a new user?

Tried Using the Windows XP Home Edition CD I have to do a repair, but the Winnt32.exe was not found or corrupt, even using DOS and or trying just winnt.exe for the heck of it. So again, full install is looking necessary.

Went to the Magic ISO Maker found a text file and this is what it says:
The command line is: <"C:\WINDOWS\I386\WINNT32.EXE" >
Main module path: <C:\WINDOWS\I386\WINNT32U.DLL>
SrcToDest: 1255 bytes/msec HDtoHD: 2871 bytes/msec
Upgrade only = No
Upgrade allowed = Yes

Source SKU = 11
Source SKU = Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Current installed SKU = 128
Current installed SKU = Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Current Version = 2600

Looks more and more like I'm missing needed files. Netupgrd.dll isn't available when trying Task Manager I386 folder and Winnt32.exe so it forces me to fully reinstall from scratch. Might have to do this unless you have special solution.

May be IMPORTANT: In the Magic ISO Maker I went to the I386 Folder, and saw WINNT32.exe "Application" which when I try to run it, it says can't upgrade (which I guess also means Repair XP) because missing NETUPGRD.DLL file, so I close it out and back in the I386 folder I see WINNT32 "Windows Installer Package." When I open that it goes to the same screen as Winnt32.exe but asks me to enter my Product Key! Could that be a good sign?! Again, the goal is an XP Repair, not full install. Do you think this will lead me down that road?

The reason my comments probably seem sporadic in nature, is because I kept thinking of things to try, and coming back here to tell you what the result was. :)

Thanks! I will not be able to respond again until Sat Evening or Sunday afternoon, leaving on a weekend trip.

P.S. Would it help you to see a HijackThis file to see if you can see what, if anything is missing or abnormal, unless you suggest running with my idea above, windows installer package?

Edited by rjpfletcher, 20 January 2012 - 02:36 AM.

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#13
Ztruker

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There is no Tools folder, it's one of the tabs across the top: File Edit View Tools Help
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#14
rjpfletcher

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I believe I understand what you mean; it's just like pulling up a Word Document and at the top File, Edit, View, Tools, etc., with a drop down list.

I do not have that option, though, because My Computer will not pull up normally -

When I pull up Task Manager, & click on My Computer, at the top it says Look in: My Computer and below that it shows C Drive, D drive, etc. There is no File, Edit, View, Tools pull down list, in this case, because of how I have to pull it up, due to the Start menu issue, etc.

With a start menu or desktop, I could open My computer and see that list at top.
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#15
Ztruker

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I don't know where you are clicking on My Computer from Task Manager. There is no such link in Task Manager for me.

When you ran Revo, did it create a System Restore point which it normally does or had you disabled this? If it did then you could try running System Restore from the Safe Mode Command Prompt: How to start the System Restore tool by using the safe mode option with the Command prompt in Windows XP

If that does not work then I think you need to make sure you have everything you want saved then do a Clean Install. Since you don't have a XP Install CD you are going to have to borrow one or buy one.

If you have room on the hard drive you could do a Parallel install. That way all your data would still be available to be copied from the old install to the new one. Once everything is copied you then delete the old.

Clean Install XP:
Clean Install- WhatTheTech
Clean Install - Michael Stevens Tech

Parallel Install XP:

Microsoft's Windows XP Professional Parallel Install step by step
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