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desktop icons present in Safe Mode but absent in Normal Mode within Windows XP Pro SP2

Posted on 2009-05-05
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
Hi Everyone;

         I wish to help a friend of mine with an unusual problem.  Within Normal Mode, the icons are missing.  The only thing present is the wallpaper.  However, if we go into Safe Mode, desktop icons do appear.  With this desktop problem at hand, I am wondering how we might can get the missing desktop icons within Normal Mode to reappear or come back.  

          The computer is a Dell Dimension E310 desktop.  The operating system is Windows XP Pro SP2.  If more information is needed or if there are followup questions, please feel free to let me know.  In the meantime, I will look forward to reviewing everyone's assessment and recommendations to this concern.  

             Many thanks in advance for any attention given.  

             George
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Question by:GMartin
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LVL 13

Assisted Solution

by:usachrisk1983
usachrisk1983 earned 50 total points
ID: 24305199
Right click on the desktop, go to properties, and then the desktop tab.  Click Customize Desktop.  Are the Desktop Icons unchecked there?  If so, check them.
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Assisted Solution

by:warturtle
warturtle earned 100 total points
ID: 24305238
I suggest downloading MalwareBytes Anti-Malware (www.malwarebytes.org) and scanning with it in safe mode. The trial version is the free version and is fully functional as well.
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LVL 59

Assisted Solution

by:LeeTutor
LeeTutor earned 100 total points
ID: 24305283
If you have an Active Desktop, right-click your Desktop, select Active Desktop, then select Show Desktop Icons.


Another thing you can do is see if they have somehow been moved off screen.  The easiest way to do this is to right click on an empty spot on the Desktop, choose Arrange Icons on the context menu, then Auto-Arrange.  That should line them up in columns at the left of your screen.

If someone has turned on the "hidden" attribute for your Desktop icons, then start up Windows Explorer, go to \Documents and Settings\<your account name>\Desktop folder, and right click each one, click Properties, and deselect the Hidden attribute on the General tab.  In order to even see these hidden shortcuts in Windows Explorer, you will first have to:  Click on the Tools menu, then select Folder Options.  Click on the View tab.  Put a dot next to Show hidden files and folders.  Also, I usually remove the check mark next to Hide extensions for known files types, as well as the check mark next to Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).  With that done, the hidden icons will show up in a "dimmed" view in Explorer.
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 24307197
Hi Everyone;

         Unfortunately, the desktop within Normal Mode is inactive because the right-click button does not respond by opening up any kind of menu.  In the meantime, I will commence with the troubleshooting suggestions given within this post after I get off from work today.  

          Many thanks for the recommendations.  I will be back in touch to update everyone on the status of my progress.  In the meanwhile, if anyone has any further thoughts to share, I most certainly welcome them.  

           Thank you.

           George

         
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LVL 23

Assisted Solution

by:phototropic
phototropic earned 250 total points
ID: 24309949
Kelly's Korner has a reg file that may help:

http://www.kellys-korner-xp.com/regs_edits/showdesktopicons.reg

But it sounds as if the pc is probably infected. I would run Mbam anyway...
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 24310518
Hi Everyone;

           I want to take a moment and provide an update to this situation.  Unfortunately, I will need further technical guidance because I am running into the following obstacle:  The drive letter for the flash drive connected to the USB port never appears in Safe Mode.  Of course, I can't get it to appear in Normal Mode because it is non-responsive or inactive.  On my regular good working pc, a drive letter does appear for the USB flash drive.  However, I never tested it for Safe Mode using the good working pc.  
I was able to successfully download Malwarebytes to this flash drive and was hoping to be able to run it in Safe Mode with the problem pc.  However, without a drive letter appearing, I am not sure what to try next.

            At any rate, I hope someone can give me some suggestions for getting past this issue so I can run Malwarebytes on this problem Dell computer.  

             Thanks in advance for any further guidance given to this post.  I will look forward to reviewing further suggestions.

             George
           
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 24310522
Hi Everyone;

       To further add, I did try different USB ports on the problem Dell pc and still got the same results in Safe Mode.  No drive letter ever appeared.

       George
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LVL 23

Assisted Solution

by:phototropic
phototropic earned 250 total points
ID: 24311826
If you are behind a router, you could try an online scan. Boot to Safe Mode with Networking and then go to one of these sites:

http://www.bitdefender.com/scan8/ie.html
http://housecall.trendmicro.com/uk/

Good luck!!!
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LVL 16

Assisted Solution

by:warturtle
warturtle earned 100 total points
ID: 24312012
Try the online scans suggested by phototropic and if your CD drive is still working then you might be able to download MalwareBytes Anti-Malware and SuperAntiSpyware (www.superantispyware.com) and burn them on a CD and install from that.
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 24315366
Hi Everyone;

         Thanks so much for the followup idea regarding booting up to Safe Mode with Networking.  Never thought of that option.  I also appreciate the links given as well.  I will try these suggestions after work today.  Incidentally, I do the Ultimate Boot CD which has a nice set of utilities which brings me to a followup question.  If I can get it to successfully boot from this cd, can I possibly run Malwarebytes from there?  

            George
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LVL 59

Assisted Solution

by:LeeTutor
LeeTutor earned 100 total points
ID: 24316148
If you save Malware Bytes setup file on a USB stick, for example, you could probably run it from there to install on your hard drive.  You could then perhaps run the executable file by using the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows substitute for Windows Explorer (there are several, if I remember correctly, but can't remember the names) to access the file.
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 24317743
Hi

      Since I do get drive letters for the CDROM and DVDROM, but, not the USB flash drive, perhaps I can burn the setup file for Malwarebytes to a CDR and execute it.  I may give that option a try as well.  
Hopefully, I can find a comfortable workaround for the USB flash drive issue as well as the sluggish and delayed performance being observed within Safe Mode.  

        In the meantime, I will report back on the outcome of my efforts.  As soon as my work day  is over, I will pick back up on this project.

        Many thanks once again for the insightful feedback.   If there are any other ideas to come to mind, please feel free to let me know because I will be checking this post throughout the day.  

         George
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:warturtle
ID: 24319023
Rename the malwarebytes file to something different before writing it to CD, the virus might try to prevent the installation by checking for the filename. Same goes for SuperAntiSpyware as well.
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 24328493
Hi Everyone;

      I tried the option to Boot Up In Safe Model with Networking, but, I was unable to get Windows to load the desktop.  Basically, I got the typical Windows XP logo screen with a message indicating Loading Windows....  But, the pc never went any further.  Interestingly, this does not happen in Safe Mode alone or Normal Mode.  

          On a side note, I was able to successfully boot from a cd with ERD Commander 2005 on it.  Since everything is being run from the cd using ERD Commander 2005 instead of the harddrive, I did notice smooth performance.  While I still do not have a drive letter for the USB flash drive within the ERD Commander 2005, I do see a drive letter for the harddrive and the CD and DVD ROM drives.  After I get off from work, I will go ahead and burn Malwarebytes to a cd r and try to install and run it with the aid of ERD Commander 2005.   While I am failrly with regards to experience and knowledge of this utility, it does seem to have several usuful tools integrated in with it.  

             At any rate, I will be back in touch with everyone.  Hopefully, I can get something going now.  

            Thanks again everyone for the followup suggestions.  If more should come to mind, please feel free to post.  I am always interested in learning newer strategies.

             George
0
 

Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 24346965
Hi Everyone;

         As promised, I am providing an update to the progress of this troubleshooting session.  Despite my efforts using the suggestions mentioned, I am still needing further assistance.  Basically, here is some extra things which are going on which might help provide "clues" to what might need to be done.  Several application errors occur at Normal Mode of the pc.  The application errors make reference to the following files: svchost.exe, netsh.exe, rundll32.exe, dwwin.exe, and explorer.exe.  When these application errors appear, the icons are there for a few seconds.  After I select OK or Cancel at each one and the error popups are gone, the desktop icons disappear as well.  It really appears like the core operating system files themselves have been corrupted.  

            From past experiences with malware, I have found ComboFix very helpful.  So, I downloaded it on a good working computer, burned it onto cd r, and copied and pasted it onto the troubling pc.  When I attempted to execute it from the desktop in Safe Mode per the instructions, I got the following message:  !!Alert!! It is not safe to continue.  The contents of the ComboFix package has been compromised.  Go to http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/combofix/how-to-use-combofix.  Note: You may be infected with a file patching virus (Virut).  

             In closing, I apologize for the extra problems which seem to piling up on this one.  But, if any further technical help can be given, it will be most appreciated.

            Thank you.

            George

             
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LVL 23

Accepted Solution

by:
phototropic earned 250 total points
ID: 24347447
A Virut infection is very hard to come back from.  I have dealt with three virut infected pc's recently - in each case the only way forward was a format and re-install.  Take a look at my question here:

http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Windows/XP/Q_24143366.html

Basically I think the best thing to do is try to run an online scan with Kaspersky:

 http://www.kaspersky.co.uk/virusscanner

It won't try to fix anything, but if it comes up with several hundred (or thousand!!!) virut infected files, it is game over for the hard drive in question.

Sorry to give you bad news, but virut infects system files, and the longer it is there, the worse the infection...



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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:warturtle
ID: 24348132
You might still be able to take a backup of the office documents (word, excel, powerpoint) using a Knoppix Linux CD though (www.knoppix.net). Burn the ISO file on a CD as an image and then boot your PC using this CD. Then copy the office documents into a USB disk and reformat and reinstall XP and other applications. Don't copy any exe files to USB disk because Virut would also infect them.
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 24350988
Hi Everyone;

         After reviewing the most recent followups, I do have a few  questions.  First, is it safe to assume end user files such as mp3's, jpg's, mpeg's, etc are safe to backup?  From what I gather, I should avoid any kind of backup of .exe files, but, end user files should be ok to backup. Ssecondly, I am under the impression I will need to download the recommended FTP client, WS_FTP, before I can download Knoppix Linux CD.  Is there any more "direct" way of downloading it?  And finally,  when I boot to this CD, will it be able to detect any external USB backup media like a flash drive or hard drive and assign a drive letter to it?

         Any followup to these questions will be appreciated.

         Thank you

         George

     
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:phototropic
ID: 24351984
Virut will infect .exe, .scr, archives(.rar and .zip), and all .htm and .html files. Mp3's, jpg's, mpeg's, etc should be safe to backup, although I would scan any backup just to be sure.
An easy way to access file data is via UBCD4Win. Download the ISO here:

http://ubcd4win.com/howto.htm

It's a bootable CD, not unlike Erd Commander, with many diagnostic tools, including file explorers.
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:warturtle
ID: 24353837
Yes, Knoppix can detect the USB drives without any problems. The answer to your FTP question is NO, you don't need specialised FTP programs to download Knoppix. Your browser (IE or Firefox or other mainstream browser) should be able to handle the FTP transfer process without any problems. The direct link is here:

http://knopper.net/knoppix-mirrors/index-en.html

Then select the FTP server that is geographically closest to you to get the maximum transfer rate. You would only need seperate FTP programs if you want to pause the download at some point in time and then resume it later on or accelrate it (Download Accelerator Plus is what I use to accelerate my downloads).

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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 24360006
Hi Everyone;

           I am currently in the process of backing up the end user files to an external USB harddrive from Safe Mode.  Everything is going great with regards to the backup of the mp3's, jpg's etc.  To help wrap things up with the data backup, could someone give me instructions on how I can backup the IE favorites, email addresses, etc.?  

           Thank you
 
            George

           T
0
 
LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:phototropic
ID: 24361859
IE favorites are here:
C:\Documents and Settings\"pc user"\Favorites
or you can open IE and go to File - Import and Export - and follow the wizard.
Outlook Express folders are here (by default):
C:\Documents and Settings\"pc user"\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{246E13BE-AA7A-4E41-8AD5-BE379DC45643}\Microsoft\Outlook Express
Address book is here:
C:\Documents and Settings\"pc user"\Application Data\Microsoft\Address Book
Or you can open OE and go to File - Export
You can also backup account settings via Tools - Account - Export

Good luck!!!
0
 

Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 24429347
Hi Everyone;

       Due to the random non-responsiveness of the desktop in both Safe and Normal Mode in addition to the random system error messages, I went and backed up all end user files (etc. jps, mp3's, AVI's, doc) files to an external USB harddrive.  Luckly, on one boot, everything was responsive enough within Safe Mode for carrying out this task.  

         After everything was backed up, I went ahead and booted to dBan and carried out a clean wipe of the harddirve or low level format.  Once completed, I went ahead and put in the XP CD and booted from it, formated, and then reloaded the OS.  I did have to download drives which was not hard to find and install them.  And, of course, I reloaded the end user files.

         In closing, I greatly appreciate the thorough attention and insightful suggestions given to this post.  I found each answer to be rich in content and easy to follow.

         Many thanks again everyone for a job so well done.

         George
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:warturtle
ID: 24429525
Thanks for the feedback and glad to be of assistance :)
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Expert Comment

by:phototropic
ID: 24434401
You are very welcome.

Thanks for the points and grade.



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