Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This is a problem that i'm totally stumped on. Taskbar Icons that are pinned, as well as open program thumbs keep disappearing. This is totally random, no set pattern. I've tried updating drivers for the vid card, rolling back to old drivers, nothing seems to work. I've also tried the usual uncheck hide the taskbar and recheck, changing the start menu, keeping commonly used programs in start menu, etc. This is using an add-in card which is a necessity.

Here is the specs on the machine:

New Dell Optiplex 390 i3 2100 Proc 3gb Ram, Windows 7 32-bit.

The add in card is an Nvidia 8400 GS model. I've tried different versions of the 8400gs, from MSI, or from other manufactureres and regardless it keeps happening.

After the Icons disappear, I can log out and log back in and they return, but disappear again. I can reinstall the drivers for the vid card and it fixes it for a few days, and then they disappear again. There isn't any set pattern of days that it happens, software being used, etc. This happens whether the Aero Theme or Classic is used. I've went into advanced settings and disabled all "special effects" as well.

Another user in the office had the same problem with the exact same machine, but updating the vid card drivers fixed the issue.


share|improve this question
what kind of an icon did you see? did it have a camera on it? – Leo Jul 2 '13 at 11:55

Have you tried running a memory test on the RAM for that machine, I recommend creating a boot-able CD or booting from a USB key drive with Memtest 86+ version 4.20 to test the RAM on the machine. I have seen weird random issues like this in the past and it was a memory issue.You can download the free utility from Other then that, I understand update the Video driver but you could also try updating the Chipset driver if you haven't already done so. Then look at updating BIOS for that machine. That being said definitely run the memtest first because if the RAM does have problems, it is likely other programs and installs will also have problems.

I just did some Googling that might be helpful, if my previous suggestions don't work out. Check out this URL from Microsoft Answers, it has a lot of great suggestions to narrow the scope of the problem

I have also pasted a screenshot that might be helpful, notice the check box I have set at the bottom of the screenshot regarding inactive icons. Perhaps your icons are disappearing when Windows decides they are in active. I know this mainly pertains to the notification area of the task bar and it might be a long shot, but I thought I might put it out there just in case it helps.
Task Bar Icons setting


share|improve this answer
It does somewhat sounds like a "resouces" problem, not nessisarily a memory timing issue that could be spotted with memory testing, although it Would be a good start, and to get that out of the way. The Q indicates "number of days" not number of hours, it could be a specific program that is "buggy", and improperly using/wasting memory or other resources. Sometimes a program that is doing that can be discovered by closing it, and re-opening it again. It is possible to try that one at a time, on the most often open programs, or attempt to observe thier behaviour in the resource monitor – Psycogeek Apr 10 '12 at 3:25
Thank you both for the responses! All drivers, chipset, bios, etc are also updated. I've ran a clean on the system, but not a memory test so i'll definitely try that next, fremenik. Psycogeek: Thanks for the input. I'm hoping that's all it is, although there is a clone of this machine, same software, same exact use, that had the same issue and was fixed with a video driver update, although I do realize that doesn't mean a program isn't going buggy on this one. If there was some kind of a pattern, that would be one thing, but so far, there isn't. – Ryker Apr 10 '12 at 15:10
@Ryker and just to be clear, your referring to the main part of the taskbar and the Larger icons displayed there, and the taskbar Thumbnailing, and not the icons in the notifications tray? Does it do the same thing in "classic" themes as it does using the AREO theme? (if they happen to test classic, be sure to update the question) . To discover a program that is (possibly) causing it, a person would close and re-open the program every 1-2 hours, clearing it out of memory temporarily, to see if the explorer shell thing stays ok. – Psycogeek Apr 11 '12 at 7:19
It does the same either way, yes. Classic or Aero. I ran mem diags and everything came back clean, along with a full system diagnostic. Right now it's stable so we're waiting to see when it happens again. It is possible that she is staying in programs all day and that could cause a problem, i'll make sure to have her try it. – Ryker Apr 12 '12 at 16:38
Thanks for all of the help everyone. We are still working on this, and we are trying ATI video cards vs the nvidia cards as we've narrowed it down to the video card being the problem. I'll update when anything changes. – Ryker Apr 27 '12 at 16:10

Its not the video card or drivers. I have the same problem but only with the icons in the notification area. I've tried all of the above fixes and so far nothing works permanently.

As a temporary solution I have a small program called Taskbar repair tool which has an option to choose to hide or show all listed icons. This in effect restarts the windows shell and when applied, brings back all the missing icons.

Running Win7 Home Premium x64, 8 gig Ram, Nvidia video card etc.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .