safely remove hardware device icon not present & windows E does not work

I am running windows 8.1

As far as I remember, I don't remember installing any new software on my PC in the last few weeks, but here's what's not working.

1. The icon for "safely remove hardware device" is missing, it's not there anymore
2. When I use the shortcut windows E, it doesn't bring up explorer anymore, it used to.

Any idea what's causing these two problems?
DanNetwork EngineerAsked:
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DanNetwork EngineerAuthor Commented:
I forgot to mention, I ran the following command and I get this error message:

command: rundll32 shell32.dll, control_runDLL hotplug.dll

Error in shell32.dll
Missing entry: control_RunDLL
safely remove device
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RizzleCommented:
Hi,

Maybe try re-creating the local profile to see if the Windows key shortcut starts to work?

What has changed since it last worked? Any new applications been installed since?

Failing the above I would advise doing a system restore back to a working point in time initially. So when you plugin a USB stick the option to safely remove hardware doesn't appear?
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DanNetwork EngineerAuthor Commented:
Well,  i can't do a restore, because a lot of the work over the last 3 weeks or so will be lost.
There has to be a solution for it....

As far as I remember, I can't recall that anything changed on the PC.

I will create a new profile, but that would be a lot of work to transfer the data over.
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RizzleCommented:
I would advise a Clean Boot to see if that helps cure the issue or tell you what is causing it.

here is a link on how to do a Clean Boot successfully http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929135 

With the Clean Boot you will need to add start up items back one by one until you get the Windows Shortcut and also Safely remove hardware icon starts working.

Once the Clean boot is done, restart the machine and see if the Windows Shortcut/Safely remove hardware notification icon re-appears, if it doesn't and also the Windows Shortcut still doesn't work follow the below.

With the Clean Boot you will need to add start up items back one by one until you get the message again at start up.

Only other thing you could do is either uninstall apps one by one after each uninstall restart and see if you get that message on start up and once it disappears it will at least tell you which app is causing it.

Another thing to try is if you right click the taskbar by where the time and click "Customize Notification Icons" then click "Restore Default Icon Behaviours"
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DanNetwork EngineerAuthor Commented:
The link you provided does not work.
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nobusCommented:
>>  ,  i can't do a restore, because a lot of the work over the last 3 weeks or so will be lost.  <<   system restore does not loose  - or affect your data.
BUT it is always wise to have a BACKUP - in case anything goes wrong because you're dealing with a corrupt OS at this point

so after a backup, i would do the system restore; it's a fast way to repair this problem
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DanNetwork EngineerAuthor Commented:
I restarted the computer again, and today, it's working. I didn't do anything, didn't install any new software or remove any software.  my windows E command brings up windows explorer and my safely remove hardware is available now.

Thanks for your thoughts.
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nobusCommented:
could be an update that needed some reboots
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DanNetwork EngineerAuthor Commented:
I don't know, I'm pretty sure I didn't install any updates just yet in the past few days, as far as I can tell.
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nobusCommented:
let's wait and see
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