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The top, left panel of my Start menu is blank. If I select something from All Programs, right-click and select Pin to Start Menu (or Pin to Taskbar), the command is ignored. Changes in Start -> Properties -> Start Menu tab -> Customize are ignored.

The taskbar is locked. Any command to unlock it is ignored. I have tried right-click on the taskbar and clear Lock the taskbar; and right-click on Start -> Properties -> Taskbar tab.

Many other windows settings are not persisted, e.g. File options in Windows Explorer and the drop-down list in the Run dialogue.

Background

My desktop had two drives, an SSD with Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (C:) and an HDD with \Users and all my data (D:). The HDD failed and has been replaced (still D:). I have restored data from backups, but have lost all of the stuff in AppData.

As part of the recovery, I have gone back to a restore point before the HDD failed; and then had to install lots of Windows updates.

Investigations

I have noticed event ID 1542 “Windows cannot load classes registry file DETAIL - The system cannot find the file specified.” at log-on time; with no details of which file is missing.

I have checked the permissions of D:\Users and subdirectories. Chkdsk and sfc –scannow both report no errors.

I had lots of trouble getting a user log-on that worked (event IDs 1505 and 1511). These errors ‘went away’ as I repetitively installed Windows updates and rebooted. During this time the file D:\Users\Default\ntuser.dat was created.

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList\S-1-5-21-(long number) looks OK, it has the correct path in ProfileImagePath.

I read a site that suggested deleting the user account and recreating it. I’ve already done this while fighting earlier errors. There are also suggestions to check the file D:\Users(UserName)\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\UsrClass.dat – I don’t have this file and there is no reference to UsrClass.dat in HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\hivelist.

Can you please suggest what to change?

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Getting there!

This site (http://unlockforus.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/technical-details-of-windows-7-taskbar.html) talks about registry keys under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced.

e.g.TaskbarSizeMove = 0 (checked value) or 1 (unchecked value)

The problem was that I did not have Advanced under HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer. When I tried to add it, I got an error "Cannot create a stable subkey under a volatile parent key".

('Volatile' means the key does not survive a reboot.)

I deleted the Explorer key; then created Explorer and Advanced. I don't know what caused the Explorer key to be volatile, but deleting and recreating it solved my problem.

That is all. Once I rebooted, lots of stuff was created under HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced and my system is now behaving itself.

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