Windows Legacy OS forum


Cannot access programs with desktop icons

by leaningtowardapple / January 10, 2013 10:41 AM PST

Here are my symptoms and the actions I've tried:

Windows XP Pro SP3 with all automatic updates applied.
IE8 with all updates applied.
Windows Security Essentials as virus software with automatic updates.
Two years + with no problems.
Recently ran Cleanup with compression (ran a LOOOONG time) which finished normally. Continued working and shutdown. When I rebooted the next morning, I have found the following symptoms:
1. Cannot launch programs from desktop shortcuts
2. Quick Launch is gone from desktop toolbar and when I add it back it disappears again after restart
3. Search function does not work from Start Menu or on Windows Explorer
4. IE8 will not start (starts, but immediately ends)
5. I must start all programs by accessing Program Files and doing OPEN on the requested programs
6. Google Chrome will work when accessed via Program Files/Open
7. Outlook will not recognize Word as my editor (tells me it is not installed)
8. Malwarebytes will not install
9. Malwarebytes Chameleon will not work (will not launch DOS prompt as expected on any selection)
10. Malwarebytes Rootkit finds nothing
11. Microsoft security Essentials full scan finds nothing
12. Doug Knox XP restore of file associations has no effect
13. Several registry updates for repairing EXE problems and LNK problems has no effect
14. Reinstallation and update of IE8 has no effect
15. Comparing numerous registry entries with a working XP pc shows no differnces
16. Resetting IE8 and other settings to default has no effect.
17. Tried all of this in safe mode as well
18. Set up a new user id and recreated shortcuts with no effect
19. Searched the web diligently for any possible solutions for two days.
20. Tried suggested .LNK fixes

I have absolutely no clue what to do next. I am a volunteer with a non-profit organization and really NEED my Outlook to work. I know I'm back-level on my technology, but I can't do anything about it right now.

Can anyone help me, pleeeeeease!!

Answer This Ask For Clarification
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Cannot access programs with desktop icons
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Cannot access programs with desktop icons
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.

All Answers

Collapse -
Here're some things to try
by wpgwpg / January 10, 2013 11:25 AM PST

It sounds like you could have a virus or other malware. Get your antivirus program up to date and boot into Safe Mode. Note that some viruses can hide themselves from your antivirus program in normal mode, so you really need to scan in Safe Mode. To get into Safe Mode when you first power up, hit F8 about once a second until you get the menu and select Safe Mode. Then run a full system scan.
Microsoft has suggestions and offerings at
MS forum moderator Keith has some suggestions along this line at
If that fixes it, fine. If not, use System Restore to go back to a date prior to the beginning of the problem. To run System Restore, click Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> System Restore. Click the box that says Show more restore points.
You can check for corrupted system files. Open an administrator command prompt and run SFC if the above doesn't help. Click START, then type CMD in the search box, right-click CMD.EXE and click Run as administrator. Then from the command prompt type sfc /scannow.
Finally if all else fails, you can check the rather cryptic system event log. To do that click Start -> Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Event Viewer. Once in Event Viewer click on the system log and scroll through the entries looking for those flagged "error" to see if you can find hints as to where the problem could be.
When you get your system back in good working order, I urge you to back your system up to an external hard drive and make regular periodic updates to it.
I hope this helps. Good luck.

Collapse -
Ran Microsoft Safety Scanner
by leaningtowardapple / January 10, 2013 10:12 PM PST

I started Microsoft Safety Scanner over eight hours ago and it is still running (almost 2 million files scanned). It has found nothing so far. Should I let it continue or try something else?

Collapse -
Re: 2 million files
by Kees_B Forum moderator / January 10, 2013 10:22 PM PST

Well, how many files do you have on your system?

From the command prompt run chkdsk on all your disks. It will report the number of files in the summary. And possibly it will report errors.

On my c:-drive (with Windows 7) I've got 130.180 files (and 0 errors). So 2 million files is quite a lot. That's why I said it might report errors.


Collapse -
Number of files
by leaningtowardapple / January 11, 2013 3:06 AM PST
In reply to: Re: 2 million files

It looked like it was expanding and testing everything in all the CAB files. Chkdsk shows far fewer files.

Collapse -
Running Bitdefender from bootable CD
by leaningtowardapple / January 11, 2013 3:12 AM PST

I am running Bitdefender from a bootable CD at present.

Collapse -
Re: doesn't work
by Kees_B Forum moderator / January 10, 2013 7:38 PM PST

What is "Cleanup with compression"? And why that compression?

If the suggestions by wpgwpg above don't help, I'm afraid you're facing a clean install of Windows XP.


Collapse -
by leaningtowardapple / January 10, 2013 10:08 PM PST
In reply to: Re: doesn't work

I checked Compress Old Files when I ran a disk cleanup from Accessories/System Tools

Collapse -
Scans etc.
by pgc3 / January 10, 2013 10:58 PM PST
In reply to: cleanup

When you ran scans, etc. and especially scans for malware, did you run in SAFE MODE WITH NETWORKING??Not just SAFE MODE...If you did and had no results, I'd start reloading Windows from scratch.

Collapse -
ran in safe mode with networking
by leaningtowardapple / January 11, 2013 3:06 AM PST

safe mode with networking

Collapse -
It's rare but it may be worth trying.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 11, 2013 3:26 AM PST
Collapse -
probably isn't this...
by porsche10x / March 4, 2013 2:32 AM PST

This doesn't explain all of your symptoms, but the first few remind me of a "joke" someone played on me once, a while ago. He used alt-printscreen to take a snapshot of my desktop, set the picture to be my wallpaper, then moved all the desktop icons into a folder. None of the icons worked, of course, since they were just part of the background picture.

Popular Forums
Computer Help 49,613 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,349 discussions
Laptops 19,436 discussions
Security 30,426 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,308 discussions
Windows 10 360 discussions
Phones 15,802 discussions
Windows 7 7,351 discussions
Networking & Wireless 14,641 discussions


Free trip to the Grand Prix

Don't miss your chance to win a trip to the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monaco for you and a plus-one.