I like to have desktop icons to various removable drives (USB pen drive, media player, external HDD etc.) for easy access - I've switched off auto-play for removable drives.

However, each time I restart the PC, the shortcuts to drives which aren't currently attached have disappeared.

How can I stop this behaviour?

In the end I used Desk Drive which which makes Windows work like the Mac - removable drive icons appear on the desktop when inserted and disappear when removed. This actually works better than having persistent icons as the icons only appear when the drive is ready to be used.


We have had this problem at work for a long time and I am not sure what it is that happens when disabling the "Computer maintenance" task. Instead I found this hotfix from Microsoft: KB2642357

Use regedit and add a new DWORD called IsBrokenShortcutsTSEnabled in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ScheduledDiagnostics\

Set the value to 0

You can also download a tool from the page that the link points to which will do it automatically for you.


Very interesting question! This isn't an easy task, pelms. But here is how you do it:

I'd be interested in something simpler, in the way of a nifty little program that allowed me to create persistent device icons on the desktop. I too am interested in this functionality. So I hope someone else comes up with a simpler answer.

The solution for Windows XP involved making changes to the inf files of your removable media drivers and to the registry (under the HKLM tree). It's all on the following link and there are no reasons to doubt it will not work under for Windows 7: Personalized Icons for Devices on Windows XP at the Microsoft Hardware Developer Central.

Not only you can completely personalize your icons, you can also define a NoMediaIcons key so that the icon remains when media is removed. This makes your device icons behave much like the recycler bin, which is very cool.

Since this is a XP "hack" and I haven't tested it under Windows 7 yet to at least tell you if it's safe, please use caution. I suggest you create a restore point before trying it. But as I said, from a quick inspection of the registry I see no reason why it shouldn't work on Seven.

  • A thought occurred to me that changing inf files may have legal consequences I'm unaware of. This will of course include any generic drivers owned by Microsoft. So please bear that in mind. This may also explain why we can't seem to find any tool software that gives this functionality. – A Dwarf Oct 14 '09 at 21:51
  • The MS Hardware Dev Central page seems to be aimed at device manufacturers and gives info on how to specify custom icons to appear in My Computer and the autoplay dialog. I don't think it applies to the desktop but I may be wrong. This level of registry hacking is well out of my comfort zone though, so I think I'll give this method a pass :¬) – pelms Oct 14 '09 at 22:33
  • I used to use a program called Desktop Media (ianandmonica.com/desktopmedia) on XP which pops icons on the desktop when a device is connected (as on a Mac). I had problems with this on Win 7 beta but I'll try again with the RC (and RTM in a couple of weeks :¬) – pelms Oct 14 '09 at 22:36
  • 1
    Also came across Desk Drive (blueonionsoftware.com/DeskDrive.aspx) which I'll try if Desktop Media gives me problems again. – pelms Oct 14 '09 at 22:39
  • +1. Nice pelms. I was more into the idea of changeable yet persistent icons. Didn't occur to me you didn't mind them go away as long as they reappeared again when you attached the device. The WHDC link works because you can then link to the drives from the desktop, by simply dragging them from explorer. They won't go away next time you reboot (or so it used tpo be). – A Dwarf Oct 14 '09 at 22:57

It seems this is a 'feature' of the Windows 7 'System Maintenance troubleshooter'.

The System Maintenance troubleshooter performs a weekly maintenance of the operating system. The System Maintenance troubleshooter either fixes problems automatically or reports problems through Action Center. When there are more than four broken shortcuts on the desktop, the System Maintenance troubleshooter automatically removes all broken shortcuts from the desktop

'Broken' shortcuts may be links to non-attached removable drives, or links to network drives - if they're not yet mapped when the program runs.

To avoid this problem, Microsoft advises limiting the number of 'broken' (or breakable) shortcuts on your Desktop to 4 or less, or as a last resort, disabling the System Maintenance troubleshooter'.


You can add shortcuts to right click or right click sub menus using Right Click Enhancer. so when drive disconnects it doesn't remove it.

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