Thanks for the reply. "Show desktop icons" is indeed on, I have a few shortcuts still visible.
When I go to check the actual desktop folder it just shows what I now have on my desktop: Nothing.
I have no system restore points. From what I can gather, system restore is supposed to be turned on by default (is this correct?), but mine was off after Service Pack 1. So I have no points to go back to.
Hi Krackerjax: Sorry to hear you're having difficulties with the SP1 auto-install. I haven't had any Customers who have encountered any problems from the auto-install. However, I do have a Customer whose laptop I just finished working on who has Win7 and encountered an Internet Explorer auto-install throught MS update from about 2 weeks ago. IE 10 failed to install correctly, and Win7 reverted to using IE9; however with one glitch, and that is his Earthlink webmail began randomly crashing. I tried downloading the IE10 manually and completing the failed install; that didn't work. You cannot unintall IE9 from within Control Panel, so I tried downloading an OS-appropriate version of IE9 and reinstalling. STill didn't fix the problem. My recommendation to the Customer was to use Chrome browser for using his earthlink E-mail app. for now. Only other solution I could offer him was to reload his Windows7 from recovery disk. I also tried using System Restore, and that often doesn't solve IE problems, nor problems from mis-installed Service Packs.
By the way, it's worth noting that on many computers (both desktops and laptops; you didn't mention which you had) that come with Windows7, System Restore is turned off out of the box. I'm not sure whether the manufacturer specified this or not, but some Win7 systems DO have System Restore turned on and running. I've been using System Restore since before MS incorporated it into their Windows OS; you used to have to buy from a 3rd party company back on Windows98 and Win2000. One thing I've noted over the ensuing years, has been that relying on System generated Restore Points is not a reliable restoration method. Yes, many install programs including the auto-installed programs that are downloaded to your computer (such as SP1 and IE10 for example), set a Restore Point automatically as Mr. Hawthorne mentioned, however, system restore points often don't work, and of course they have no chance of working if your computer manufacturer has chosen to turn that feature off when your computer shipped from the factory.
What I would suggest is a two-prong approach; try some items I will suggest to rebuild your system, or if you've never done this before take your computer to a reputable Computer Store who employs A+ Certified Technians (Best Buy Geek Squad is nationwide, and they used certified technicians).
Before attempting any rebuild on your computer, try to login to your windows desktop and backup as much of your personal information (music, documents, pictures, videos, etc.) to an external hard drive, CD/DVD discs, or flash drives as possible. This is the #1 rule of computer repair. Once you feel comfortable with having your information backed up, you can proceed with reloading your Windows7 OS from Recovery Discs if you have them, or from a built-in Recovery Partition already provided on your hard drive by your computer manufacturer. If you've never reloaded Windows before from either of these methods, you might try getting a knowledgable computer expert friend to help, or again take to a store that uses certified technicans who do this regularly.
Ordinarily, the easiest method is to find the disc or discs that came in the box your purchased your computer in. If you did not buy your computer new, you will have to ask the person or store you bought your computer from if you can for those discs. If you bought your computer new, those discs would have been in the sealed box your computer came in. If you bought used, many people do not sell the discs with a used computer since they lost long ago or threw them out not aware of their value when the computer broke down. For most computers Windows7 has between 2 and as many as 10 DVD Recovery discs. Older systems such as WindowsXP only had 1 recovery disc and usually it was all on a single CD disc.
Ideally, you can then insert the disc labeled disc1 into your main optical drive (DVD drive), and Windows7 will come up with a launch screen that will offer you 2 options; repair the Win7 installation or delete the existing Win7 installation and install a factory copy from scratch (be aware that if you do this, it erases everything on your hard drive, hence the precautions in the beginning to backup all of your personal information).
If the DVD disc does not boot, you'll have to go into the BIOS setup program which controls the internal workings of your computer. This is done through a keystroke or two, usually the <F1> or <F2> or other function key on your keyboard. Once in the BIOS setup program you need to look for and change the boot priority setting to boot from the DVD drive. If you have never used the BIOS setup program before or you get in but can't find the boot options screen, you'll probably need to get expert computer help as I mentioned before. If the DVD disc does not boot, you cannot reinstall your Windows7 and your stuck until you get outside help.
If you can get the Windows7 setup program to get into the Reinstall option, it will warn you that you'll be erasing all of your windows files, settings, and personal information from the computer and it's a one-way trip etc. You do want to erase everthing (except the Recovery Partition itself), and make sure you go through the delete partition-and format hard disk sections. Again, if you've never done this, get expert help. If you've done Windows reinstall before, also ensure that when you format the hard drive, select the "NTFS" option and not the "FAT32" or "NTFS QUICK" options.
Once the hard drive is formatted Windows7 setup will pretty much take over the installation process, and will extract all the files and menus from the various DVD discs and will ask you to remove and insert Disc 2, then Disc 3, etc. until you go through all the discs in the Recovery disk set. Along the way, you will have a chance to enter your User name, a password for your windows logon account, date, time, timezone, other basic settings and some basic information on your network access method to the Internet. After 1-3 hrs. or more and the feeding of all your recovery discs into the computer, and several reboots, you will get to your new Win7 desktop.
From there, you can begin installing all of your programs and data, however, I strongly encourage you to download and install 2 items prior to doing that. First, download and install the SP1 for Win7 from the Microsoft web site, and then second, make sure your Windows Update option is turned on. This will download and install all the other updates you need for Win7, but should ignore the SP1 since it will find all those files installed on your hard drive already. Make sure to turn on your System Restore, and test it by creating a Restore Point AFTER you install your SP1 manually.
Now you are good to go at re-installing all of your programs and restoring (copying back) your data (personal information) back onto your hard drive. Once this is done and everything seems to be working ok, re-install or download and purchase a quality Internet Security program, such as Norton, McAfee, Avast, or TrendMicro. Most of these guys offer a 15-day to 30-day free trial so you can try out their products and keep your computer safe on the Internet. After the trial expires you'll have to purchase the product and they prices range from $30-$80. Annual subscription renewals vary from $50-$60. After all the work you will be doing to reinstall your computer, the last thing you want is to have a virus get in your rebuilt computer and wreak havoc before you get a chance to even use it!
I don't know your level of repair experience, so I'm just giving you an overview and let you decide on how much you can do yourself, or if you need expert computer help as I stated above. If you brought your computer to me and you asked me to do it, this is the process I would follow to fix your problem. It's probably a lot more drastic than you thought, but the good news is, it can be fixed!
Reply back to my post if you have any questions or need further help.
Best of luck,