Red exclamation point on desktop icons


New Member
I recently noticed that many of my desktop icons (jpgs, pdfs) have a red circle with a white exclamation point and the system is running slow. I googled this and the only posts I could find relate to computers that use backup software, which I don't. Ever heard of this? I made a little screen grab which follows. The files can be viewed and edited but these flags can be seen throughout the system using Explorer



New Member
Found it. McAfee installed a backup program on my system.
Welcome to the forum glenng

*Sarcasm filter on*
Isn't that nice of McAfee to let you know.:rolleyes:
This McAfee program must be one of those "all in one" suits that does everything but none very well.
IMHO you would be better served by a separate backup program if thats what you want (unattended backups).
*Sarcasm filter off*
Glad you got that figured out.

Looking at your screen shot, unless you have the little arrow overlay turned off that indicates a shortcut, it looks like you have actual files and folders on your desktop.
You would be better served by creating a folder, say on your C: drive and placing those files and folders there, then creating desktop shortcuts to them on your desktop in instead of having the actual files and folders there.

This way if you inadvertently delete one of these desktop objects all you are doing is deleting the shortcut.

In case you didn't know you can create a desktop shortcut to any file or folder by right clicking it and choosing "send to>Desktop (create shortcut).

The only file I see of the four in your screenshot that you shouldn't move is the desktop.ini file.
This file tells the computer how to "draw" the desktop.
It should be hidden from view but you must have "show hidden files and folders" option checked in Control Panel>Folder Options> View.
In previous versions of Windows Win 2000, XP showing hidden files did not show the hidden files on the desktop. I'm not sure about Vista but Win 7 exhibits this annoying behavior.

What I do is change the setting to "hide the hidden files" until I need to access a hidden file.

This behavior of Win 7 is annoying to me as I would rather leave "show hidden files ... " checked
because I fairly frequently access hidden files etc.
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Essential Member
Microsoft Community Contributor

You said your computer was running slow!!!

I really recommend dumping McAfee and using a free service like AVG or Avira.
I get McAfee free as part of my internet package and I haven't had it on a computer for years.

I am using AVG, plus Malwarebytes and haven't had any problems either with the software or malware ever.

Once AVG free is installed it updates, runs and takes care of itself with no fuss or bother and it doesn't slow my computer down either. I have is set to run first thing in the morning so I just turn on my computer and go have a cup of coffee, by the time I'm done it is updated and has scanned my computer and I'm ready to go.

I still remember the hassles I had when I did use McAfee and it made my computer run like a slug.

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New Member
Actually, I have AVG Free, and this problem has just happened to me.

So McAfee is not the true root cause of this.


Extraordinary Member
Actually, I have AVG Free, and this problem has just happened to me.

So McAfee is not the true root cause of this.
It isn't Mcafee specific. As Figold suggested "This McAfee program must be one of those "all in one" suites "
It is a default function for most automated backup programs.

One of the major backup programs which produces this, is Mozy. It indicates files that could not or were not backed up. I do not use it, but I understand the feature can be disabled in Mozy's settings by going to:
CONFIGURE >> OPTIONS >> GENERAL >> and uncheck the box for "Show Backup Status Icon on files and folders"
The green ticks, should you see any, indicated successful backup.
Without meaning to digress, one major reason fior this is an over heating problem that causes the machine to fail through it's backup process. (But there can be other less serious reasons!)
Perhaps AVG have, similarly, introduced such a feature.?

I should also point out that this is not Windows 7 specific. It occurred as long ago as, at least, XP, for similar reasons.


New Member
Thanks for the tip, RAK.

I just started using Mozy, and that appears to be what's doing it for me.


New Member
I've got this problem as well, my desktop icons have suddenly got these red exclamation marks.
I've also got McAfee on my computer but I don't ever remember making a backup or anything... so how did it just suddenly happen? Nothing is running slow or anything but I would like to know how to get rid of these red exclamation marks.


New Member
I don't use Windows 7 (I have Windows Vista), but came across this while searching the internet seeking the answer to why my icons have punctuation marks. For me it was due to Mozy (which I thought was not doing anything until I read the History logs). After I unchecked the files, the punctuation marks disappeared.


New Member
Having read a few suspicious suggestions that McAfee may be causing all this ugly icon work, I uninstalled McAfee total protection and restarted my computer. Lo and behold, all of my icons became completely clean, without the exclamation mark. I have reinstalled the McAfee total protection software and restarted my laptop. It is good for now. I will report when it happened again.


Honorable Member
Thanks, RAK I don't know anything about McAfee, but MOZY was the culprit in my case, and your directions for removing the "!" were spot-on.


New Member


New Member
had the same problem with vista 64 bit, all of a sudden got red exclamation marks on icons for pictures and text etc.
I had McAfee, so i Uninstalled and red exclamations went away, then I reinstalled using CUSTOM install, and unchecked online backup.
all seems to be OK and no more red marks