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Several shortcuts and folders with shortcuts dissapeared from Windows 7

This is not a "my desktop shortcuts are gone" question.
Actually, my desktop shorcuts are there.

The programs are there, all the programs, just the shortcuts are gone.

However, at some point in the last days, dissapared:
Administrative Tools shortcuts
Microsoft Office shortcuts
Delphi shortcuts
Visual Studio shortcuts
SQL Server 2008
and so on.

Some are still there, Google Chrome, Google Talk, Dropbox, Symantec Endpoint Protection, and some few others.

I have an AV installed and running. The shortcuts may have dissapeared in the last few days, but i didn't notice, because I have all my important work shortcuts pinned to the Start Menu, they are there and are fine, working.

Where do I still looking for?
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fischermx
Asked:
fischermx
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2 Solutions
 
Ivano ViolaSystem AdministratorCommented:
Re-create the shortcuts and move them to C:\Users\Public\Desktop. This seems to work and the shortcuts do not get deleted. This is a problem that is effecting some users.

Here is a currently opened question that may give you a few more things to try:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Windows/Windows_7/Q_27391425.html

IV
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Run5kCommented:
@Ivanoviola, that is certainly good advice for desktop shortcuts, but if I understand the author correctly I think he is implying that his shortcuts are missing from the Start -> All Programs hierarchy.  The automatic Windows maintenance cleanup only applies to desktop shortcuts.

@Ffischermx, it would be wise to perform a full scan with your antivirus application as well as Malwarebytes to help ensure that there isn't any malicious software causing this.  Additionally, I would go into Windows Explorer and temporarily change the settings to Show hidden files, folders, or drives to ensure that those shortcuts aren't hidden by something malicious.  If they are, after you ensure that the system is clean following your scans you can utilize the Unhide.exe utility to restore the shortcuts to their normal state:

Unhide.exe - Download

Unhide.exe - Tutorial

Finally, if the shortcuts really are gone you can use the built-in Restore Previous Versions capability to restore them:

Restore Previous Versions of Files in Every Edition of Windows 7
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Ivano ViolaSystem AdministratorCommented:
duh....sorry.....I should try reading the first line.
Thanks Run5k!
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Run5kCommented:
Not at all, Ivanoviola.  I always appreciate your level-headed input!
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fischermxAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your  help.

My files are not hidden, I already have visible all system and hidden files and I don't see them, they're gone.

The "restore previous version option" only shows me from one week to now, and all are the same, so I guess I had a couple of weeks with this problem already.

Malwarebytes did not found problems in the first quick run. Now, I'm running the full scan, it has like 2 hours now, and still show nothing.
Same for the antivirus (symantec) full scan showed no problems and full scan is running.

Now, my question is, it could be really a virus/malware that performs this operation like erasing shortcuts randomly?
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Run5kCommented:
It's a shame that your Restore Previous Versions history doesn't reach back a bit further than that.

It is certainly possible that some type of malware can delete shortcuts, but it is starting to sound like that system is clean.  That being said, is it possible that this was done manually and/or accidentally?  In the old Windows XP days, it wasn't that uncommon to see a well-intentioned member of the IT login with full admin privileges and drag shortcuts from the Start menu hierarchy to the desktop.  Unfortunately, their admin rights caused those shortcuts to be pulled off the Start menu so that nobody else saw them!  Just some food for thought.
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fischermxAuthor Commented:
This same disk once had another instalation of Windows,
I moved from Win XP to Win 7 64bits and use it several weeks, but I had few memory and it ran slow, so I then installed Windows 7 32 Bits.

To do that migration from 64bit to 32bit, I moved everything.... but EVERYTHING in a directory on the root which I called "c:\oldwindows", including "program files", "program files (x86)", "program data" and "windows" directory.

Some weeks ago, I was looking for space and I delete a lot of stuff from the "oldwindows" directory.
I don't know exactly how "junctions" work, but I'm guessing, if I deleted junctions which may coincide with my current installation, could I have deleted my shortcuts that way?

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Run5kCommented:
My goodness, that machine has gone through a very elaborate evolution!  That is definitely good to know... I just assumed that this was a standard Windows 7 installation, versus a machine that has recently hosted three different operating systems.

Junction points exist for compatibility with legacy applications, but they can't "reach back" to an older operating system folder that was created manually.

Based upon everything you have told us thus far, it sounds like your best course of action would be to re-create the shortcuts manually.  You may be able to copy some of them from your desktop, while others would need you to navigate to the Program Files folder.  If you are missing any of the built-in generic/default Windows 7 shortcuts, this tutorial will help you restore them:

Start Menu All Programs in Windows 7 - Restore Default Shortcuts

That being said, I am rather meticulous about my Windows 7 builds.  If I encountered a similar machine with such an elaborate history, I would probably manually backup the important user file/folders, wipe it clean, and then reload Windows with all of the appropriate applications.  Just my 2¢ worth.
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LeeTutorretiredCommented:
>I don't know exactly how "junctions" work, but I'm guessing, if I deleted junctions which may coincide with my current installation, could I have deleted my shortcuts that way?

XP junction points are different from the symbolic links introduced in Windows Vista and Windows 7, in that deleting a junction point in Windows Explorer or a DOS command prompt window will delete the target of the junction point.  See this article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTFS_junction_point
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fischermxAuthor Commented:
I'm now navigating through my "oldwindows" which still have some files, some profiles, and I noticed that certain links takes me to the real directory in my current live instalation...
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Run5kCommented:
Interesting.  If you manually created that "oldwindows" folder, I am not exactly sure how it managed to have shortcuts that linked back to your live system.  Perhaps some of them default to either "C:" or the %systemdrive% Environment Variable, and as a result they would still navigate back to the live Windows operating system.  That would seem to make sense.

As a result I would proceed with caution regarding your "oldwindows" folder, and I will stand by my previous advice... the method you choose is a matter of personal preference.
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fischermxAuthor Commented:
I created the "c:\oldwindows" folder during the Windows 7 32 bits instalation by opening a MSDOS windows, and then using the "move" command I moved everything, "documents and settings", "program files" and all my personal directories in "C:", I also deleted all the system directories in root "c:\" so the Windows 7 installer could see it as a clean disk.
This way I installed a clean Win 7 without having to reformat the drive.


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Run5kCommented:
Once again it's a matter of personal preference, but I tend to be a bit more conservative regarding how a load/reload my Windows 7 machines.  Faced with similar circumstances, I probably would have saved the users' personal data files/folders to an external USB drive, done a full-fledged format/clean install of Windows 7, and then configured the appropriate applcations & settings afterwards.

As I mentioned before, your way ahead is strictly up to you.  If it was me, I would want the peace of mind of knowing that I had "started clean" with a full wipe & reload that guarantees everything will work properly, but if you can manually recreate your shortcuts successfully there is certainly nothing wrong with that.
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younghvCommented:
Just posting to concur with the advice from 'Run5k'. These (EE) pages have many many examples of members trying to resolve problems that are inherent with the upgrade/modification from one OS install to another.

I've even done it as a special favor for an occasional customer, but it has NEVER produced an error-free system for them. I now simply refuse such requests.

Back up the data files & folders and do a completely new installation of the Windows 7 version you want to run.

FWIW - I haven't used the "Move" command in more years than I can remember - after getting burned once too often. I use the 'Copy' --> 'Paste' function, then go back and delete the original files after verifying that valid copies have been made.
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Run5kCommented:
There were several good posts, but in this instance I would hesitate to assign and/or take any credit without additional feedback from the author.  Definitely a rather unusual scenario.
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younghvCommented:
I've requested that this question be closed as follows:

Accepted answer: 250 points for Run5k's comment http:/Q_27405080.html#36995089
Assisted answer: 250 points for LeeTutor's comment http:/Q_27405080.html#36996334

for the following reason:

This question has been classified as abandoned and is closed as part of the Cleanup Program. See the recommendation for more details.
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fischermxAuthor Commented:
Yes, please split the points as mentioned. I tried, but I got an error message that the question is in auto-close mode.
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fischermxAuthor Commented:
I will close this question myself.
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fischermxAuthor Commented:
Thank you!
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