It seems that Windows created a new 'temporary' user account profile for you, and that's what you call a new Desktop.
That happens when an existing profile becomes corrupted in some way, and we then usually create a new User account in the Control Panel > User Accounts option, and transfer all our files across from the old profile.
You found your old files using an Explorer window, like My Computer, or My Documents, etc, and all profiles or User accounts can be found using Explorer on the C drive under the C:\Documents and Settings folder.
If you now go back to that Documents and Settings folder, what sub-folders does it display? For example, in my XP's C:\Documents and Settings I have the following accounts;
1] Administrator - This is what XP comes with, to allow users to create their own Admin accounts. Once they do, this account disappears from the Welcome Screen on bootup, but is still available in Safe Mode.
2] All Users - Shared data is stored here, for example some Start > All Programs shortcuts that are applicable to all account users.
3] Default User - When multiple users log on locally to the same computer, Windows XP uses the built-in default user profile as a template to assign a profile to each new user.
4] Guest - A limited user account for casual visitors. It has no Admin powers and limited functionality.
5] Mark Flaxman - My own full Admin user account.
6] Second-Admin - I have created this full Admin account so that, if I lose the option to log into my own account, I can still use this one, hopefully, to recover all my My Documents contents and other user profile files.
It may be that your missing files are in one of the other accounts, perhaps the Default User account. Look in the;
C:\Documents and Settings\Default User\Desktop folder. If you have any other accounts set up, look in the similar folder for those.
May I add? What follows are a series of, "It's not wise" type remarks. I hope you will understand!
a) It is not wise - to rely solely on the Administrator account. Neither Microsoft nor retailers tell you this, but that account should be left aside as an emergency backup account. When people first get an XP computer, (or now Vista), they should immediately use that account to create their own dedicated full Admin account, and another full Admin account as a visible backup account. That initial Administrator account will then disappear from view.
b) Those missing files on your Desktop - Are they files, or are they just shortcuts to files stored elsewhere on the computer? The Desktop for any account is normally only used for shortcut icons that will then call up the actual files, programs, utilities, etc. It is not usual, and not wise in my view, to save actual files on the Desktop.
If those missing files are just shortcuts, then hopefully the actual files are still saved on your hard drive somewhere. But only you can tell where.
c) In any case, any files you cannot afford to lose, those personal photos, videos, music, documents, etc, need to be backed up. Then situations like this can be recovered from with not too much pain.
d) If there are is than one user on this computer, create an account for each one. Some may need full Admin powers, others may need only limited access.
e) While the Guest account is available, it is not recommended to allow others to use it, and it should be disabled in the Control panel > User accounts option. Any casual visitor could have their own limited account set up which can then be deleted through the Control Panel after they have finished.
f) If there is more than one user on this machine, consider making each user account passworded, including the hidden Administrator account. But whatever you do, do not lose those passwords.
g) Some people say that any Admin account should only be used to install/uninstall software, and other system management work. For normal everyday use, they use a limited account. This prevents rogue software and viruses and ther malware from installing. I must admit I don't use that method, but I am the only user, and I am in complete control! (At least I hope I am, ).
I hope that helps.
I am currently missing several files due to the following series of events. Follow along its fun
Recently upon bootup my computer announced that it could not find my local desktop settings. It proceeded to create a temporary desktop for my use (default background image, default icons, etc).
Interestingly enough I could still access the files previously saved to my desktop though the c drive, by going to the documents/settings file and opening the desktop folder for my user account name.
I then moved several documents to my new "temporary" desktop. This worked fine for about 3 restarts. Then, upon the 4th restart my computer seemed to magically "find" my old desktop, including all my old files and folders...except the 4 files I had manually moved to the "new" desktop.
The problem now is that the files in the new desktop have completely vanished. Searching for them has not found them in a temporary folder or such.
Does anyone know where windows XP would store these documents, and how I can retrieve them?