Fix: Desktop shortcuts go missing on Windows PC

Have you encountered a situation where you find that your desktop shortcuts have suddenly gone missing on your Windows 10/8/7 computer? Well, Windows acts this way by design! Shortcuts that are regarded as broken are deleted by the System Maintenance troubleshooter.

Desktop shortcuts go missing

The System Maintenance Troubleshooter performs a weekly maintenance of the operating system. It 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.

A “Broken” shortcut is a shortcut to a file, folder or drive that may not always be available, for example, a desktop shortcut for a USB device may be regarded as broken if the USB device is not connected when the System Maintenance troubleshooter performs its maintenance, or, a network folder that is currently not available due to the network not being available, says Microsoft.

If you must have more than four broken shortcuts on your desktop, you can disable the System Maintenance troubleshooter.

To disable the System Maintenance troubleshooter, follow these steps:

Open Control Panel > System and Security > Find and fix problems > On the left navigation pane > click Change settings > Set Computer Maintenance to Off.

However if you disable the System Maintenance troubleshooter, all the maintenance tasks that it performs are disabled.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.


  1. Jonathan

    Boy, windows 7 is looking worse all the time. Who in the world thought this would be a good idea? And why “four” shortcuts is the magic number? My whole workflow is now messed up. My carefully crafted list of shortcuts – gone. I will just put them in a folder on my desktop instead… one more click to get to everything. I hope this software doesn’t go peeking inside folders on my desktop and delete those shortcuts too!

  2. indigo

    i agree jonathan..
    i’m going to try your “solution” for now, see what happens.
    i had several UNbroken shorts on my desktop, all to different things. one was directly to a folder in my documents, one was to a simple .txt file in documents, and a couple to exe’s of apps that i chose not to install desktop icon at installation, then set one later. all shortcuts WORKED (unbroken). i went to work this morning, and came home to find holes where shorts used to be. this is asinine…i do not care for nazi software that makes my choices for me. (at the very least the damn thing could ask if i want these shorts deleted!!) i’ve googled and found oodles of info on this issue in windows 7, some suggested solutions even including a format and reinstall of the OS. for an operating system to be so uncustomizable as to have to resort to that extreme to solve such a ridculous issue is, to me at least, disturbing.

  3. Guest

    Truly mentally retarded windows

  4. WhereAreAllTheAdults

    I too am having my UNBROKEN shortcuts stolen from my desktop by Big Brother MS. Lame that you can’t disable just this nuisance without disabling all of the maintenance. Very narrow minded design indeed!

    If anyone gets a better fix for this BUG please post it here.

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