Windows saves the desktop icon layout when the user logs off, and the setting is read during logon. Recently I came across a case where the desktop icons rearrange to their default positions after a restart or logoff/logon cycle. This turned out to be a Permissions issue with a registry key, which kept Windows from writing to it. Are you experiencing the same problem in your Windows XP/2003/Vista/7/8/10 PC? If so, here is a solution that you can give it a go.
Using Windows 10? Try this first!
Recently more number of these cases have been reported; that the desktop icon position and folder views are not retained, is caused by a malware which modifies the following registry key:
Start Regedit.exe and go to the above location. Double-click (default) and set its value data to %SystemRoot%\system32\windows.storage.dll.
Repeat the same in the following registry path:
Then, delete the following branch at the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive, not the one in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT. The following branch is to be deleted irrespective of the Operating System you use.
Exit the Registry Editor.
REG File to automate the above three tasks: Download w10-desktop-icons-guid-fix.zip and save to desktop. Run the REG file to apply the contents to the registry.
Note: If you’re unable to change the value data and getting a permissions error, you need to take ownership of the above registry locations, and then update the value data. For information on how to change ownership, refer article Take ownership of a registry key.
Step 1: Terminate Explorer (Shell) Cleanly
Instructions for Windows XP
1. Click Start, Turn Off computer.
2. Press and hold the CTRL, ALT and the SHIFT keys, and click the Cancel button.
Instructions for Windows 7 & Vista
Click Start. Press and hold the CTRL & SHIFT keys, and right-click on an empty area in the Start menu. Click the Exit Explorer option.
Instructions for Windows 8 and 10
Press and hold the CTRL & SHIFT keys, and right-click on an empty area in the Taskbar. Click the Exit Explorer option.
For details, visit these pages:
The above step causes Windows Explorer (shell) to terminate cleanly.
Step 2: Fix Registry Key Permissions
1. Switch to Registry Editor window, and navigate to the following key:
2. Right-click on the Desktop key, and choose Permissions
3. Click Advanced, and delete any "Deny" entries if present.
(While you’re in that screen, make sure that your user account has "Full Control" (Allow) Permissions for the registry branch.
4. Click OK, OK.
5. See if you can create a sample registry value in the Desktop key to test if you can write to the branch.
Step 3: Reset the Desktop Icon Layout Registry Key
This step is required only if the problem remains unresolved although you’re able to write to the Desktop registry key.
1. Using the Registry Editor, rename the key Desktop to something else, say OldDesktop
2. Exit the Registry Editor
3. Press CTRL + ALT + DEL to open Task Manager
4. From the File menu, click Run. Type Explorer.exe and press ENTER
5. Customize the desktop icons layout as you require, restart Windows and check if the icon positions are retained.