Start Menu All Programs items disappeared once again

There are many posts on the Internet about Start Menu Programs disappearing. However, none of those cases seemed to be exactly like what I'm experiencing.

This has happened to me many times. I'm not sure what I did: the problem might've occured just after uninstalling some small video application, but might be unrelated to that. In any case, almost all items (.lnk files) have disappeared from my All Programs. So there are two locations for those files:

C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

The latter is completely empty (just a hidden desktop.ini left) and the former has some 2-3 misc links left, all others are gone. I just did a full undelete/recovery on my hard drive and it seems some of the new .lnk files, or copies of them, are found in a "Lost and Found" directory. Some or most of those deleted .lnk files are just ones I've moved/deleted by myself.

So what exactly happened? If the cause is a bug in Win7, then fine, but I'd really like to understand what actually happened to the .lnk files. Did the Programs folder get deleted (by itself) or did some registry get corrupted and that corrupted the .lnk files beyond recognition or what.

No, the .lnk files are not in recycle bin or moved to another folder (I searched everywhere).


Extraordinary Member
Hi Jim,
There's also the C:\Users\All Users\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu folder to check.
I've had this happen to me once, shortly after I'd sorted my All programs into sub-folders and categories :|. After that I made them all system files and read only using a trial version of Miklsofts Attribute Manager (plus backed them up!) and its not happened since. Coincidence maybe? I'd love to know where they went to though!

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For me, that C:\Users\All Users\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu is alias to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu (content directly affects back and forth). Thanks for the Attribute Manager suggestion!

One thing I forgot to mention in the initial post, most of the deleted files did have deletion date much older than today, and today is the day the .lnk files disappeared. So that would suggest deletion was not the cause for disappearance (yay, we've got paranormal activity!). And also chkdsk didn't find any problems.


Extraordinary Member
For me, that C:\Users\All Users\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu is alias to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu (content directly affects back and forth)....
Damn! I still keep forgetting the paths to folders that aren't folders just paths to virtual folders that in reality exist elsewhere!!! (I think I've virtually covered that!).

It is confusing. In some ways, Win7 is simplier to use than XP, but in my opinion there are some extremely confusing and illogical "improvements" in Win7.

By the way this seems to also have attributes manipulation within subfolders: FileMenu Tools (freeware, adds also other configurable tools to the context menu).

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