My Pictures folder empty and files missing

I have a computer here that is not displaying any files in My Pictures (it was until the client took the PC home and turned it on), and random word document and files are missing. I have ran Maxtor PowerMax to test the drive out (it is a Maxtor drive) and well as Seagate SeaTools. Both apps pass the drive as healthy. I have ran Recover My Files over the hard drive and even this cannot find the pictures (about 3 GB) or documents. Preceeding this fault, I had installed a new DVD burner, updated the Nero software, installed Windows Updates (after SP3) removed some malware (nothing serious, just pop ups) and disabled startup items.  Any help would be appreciated as the photos are irreplacable!!
waggasystemsAsked:
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nobusCommented:
it can be the hard disk is dying, or you got a ram problem.
Anyway, i suggest to test both; best download ubcd, and run memtest86+ and the drive test you need :
http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
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mren08Commented:
Is it possible the user is logging in with a different profile and as a result getting different document folders?

Have the user browse through the profiles in C:\Documents and Settings\ to verify.
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waggasystemsAuthor Commented:
Tried all that, there is only one profile on the computer (apart from Administrator). Which makes it stranger still.
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waggasystemsAuthor Commented:
Also, when you shut down  the computer, you see the desktop background that was on there before all of this happened. It reminds me of Windows 98 Active Desktop a bit, but in WinXP and missing files. At the moment, the desktop is just white (havent touched it at all incase it overwrites stuff)
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Frosty555Commented:
Did you do a system restore anytime lately? Is there any backup/restore software installed (Ghost, GoBack, RestoreIT etc?)

Also check if for some bizarre reason the files just have the hidden attribute set. In explorer, go to tools->folder options->view tab->show hidden files and folders.
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nobusCommented:
what happens if YOU put a jpg file in there? can you see it, and access it
you may also run a chkdsk on the drive
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waggasystemsAuthor Commented:
Have done all the above, have copied a couple of GB to the My Pictures and My Docs folders and they are completely accessable. I have ran multiple scans such as Recover My Data 3.98, GetDataBack, scanned for all files (hidden as well), performed 2 chkdsk (windows chkdsk and also NTFSDOS Pro) neither showed any orphaned files or inconsistencies. I have scanned the drive with the Maxtor Powermax software (Drive testing tool) and it passed the drive. I have checked for old profiles (non there) I have created, edited, deleted files and everything works. I can see the files that are missing in recently used documents, but cannot open them as it just pops up with the cannot find file error. Also with the data recovery software, it didnt find any of the files needed, I scanned in 3 different modes (Fast, Full and Format) same results. The computer doesnt have any other restore software (System Restore is Disabled, and anyway it wouldnt touch documents, just system files)
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Frosty555Commented:
Strange - looks like they are really gone. Somebody - or something - deleted the files. Could be you, the client, a virus (dare I suggest it), or some other means. Any recoverable trace of the files would have been destroyed when you ran the diagnostic tools / chkdsk and shuffled around the contents of the drive.

This is why the first thing I do when I take a client's computer is make an image of the hard drive - and keep it for two weeks afterwards. Sometimes the client destroys their own data and blames you. Sometimes you destroy your client's data by accident, and sometimes the client goes over a speed bump too fast with their computer in the trunk of their car on their way home. O_O.
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waggasystemsAuthor Commented:
Well, I have had some luck with GetDataBack, it shows 5 file allocation tables (different sized partitions as well) and I can see the files I need to recover, but they are all corrputed and wont open correctly, I did actually ghost the drive before doing the check disks etc so I will restore from that image and re run this test to see how I go. Thanks you your help! To me it just seems the computer has changed what file allocation table it was using, which to me is unheard of. Will post how I go with the re-imaged copy
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