The problem: All the shortcuts from “C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs” have disappeared from my start menu. The ones from C:\Documents and Settings\<current user>\Start Menu\Programs are still shown.
I have spent the weekend trying to fix this, to no avail, so hopefully someone can give me some new ideas.
I’m running XP SP3 on a Toshiba laptop. I can’t be sure exactly when this happened, but I noticed it on Friday, and I am 100% certain this problem did not exist the previous weekend. In that period of time the only software installs were an update for Keepass and an update for Mathcad. It is possible that something else notified me an update was available and I just installed it without thinking about it, but if so it would only be something like Java or Adobe flash.
If I go to “C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs” the shortcuts are all there, and they are not hidden, they just don’t appear on the start menu.
The obvious way to fix this was to just roll back to a recent restore point where the problem does not exist. Unfortunately, I could not get any restore point to work, even when doing the restore entirely in safe mode (i.e. start the restore in safe mode, and finish it in safe mode). After a lot of messing around I came to the conclusion that the restore point cache was corrupted. I confirmed that by turning System Restore off and back on to clear the cache. Sure enough, I can now create a restore point and restore it with no problems (even when not in safe mode, with Norton AV running), but of course it means I can’t fix the start menu by restoring to an earlier date.
Neither Norton AV nor Malwarebytes turn up any sign of malware (other than a few tracking cookies, anyway).
I ran chkdsk, and it shows no errors.
A possibly useful piece of information is that when I installed Tweaking.com (which unfortunately does not have a fix for this problem ) for all users I get the error “Could not create uninstall shortcut \Tweaking.com\Windows Repair (All in One)\Uninstall Tweaking.com - Windows Repair (All in One)". If I look in “C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs” no new folder or shortcut was created. I can create one manually though. So maybe it’s some sort of permissions problem? I have checked that nothing messed with the account permissions, and sure enough I still have full admin rights, and I can make changes to the shortcuts.
I found a MS hotfix that looked lie it might be helpful, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/941248, because I thought it might force a start menu fix. However, it just throws the error “Setup has detected that the Service Pack version of the system is newer than the update you are applying. There is no need to install this update.” So much for that idea!
I ran the System File Checker with “sfc /scannow” from the command prompt. It didn’t turn up anything.
Based on this site: http://bcrawfordjr.wordpress.com/2007/06/21/programs-menu-for-all-users-profile-is-missing-from-the-start-menu-start-menu/ I launched the group policy editor and looked under “User Configuration”, “Administrative Templates”. There is no entry for “Start Menu and Taskbar”. I thought that maybe I could force a fix using the information from this site though, so I added the two suggested keys to the registry, and double checked they were correct using regedit. They didn’t make any difference. They are still there, so perhaps since they were not a solution I should remove them?
That’s everything I can think of. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.