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Archive for December, 2012

IE 9 Reset Deletes Favorites?

Posted by William Diaz on December 13, 2012


While speaking with a user a few days ago, she mentioned she called the help desk to try and resolve an IE issue and the technician decided to run a reset of IE. After restarting IE, she noticed her favorites had gone missing. To confirm, I fired up one of firm imaged Windows 7 PCs and was able to reproduce. This was a surprise to me because I had never seen this behavior in our old XP environment (we are still relatively new to the Windows 7 platform). Microsoft even clearly states that a reset should preserve favorites in this Microsoft article:

Settings and items that are maintained

  • Favorites

  • Feeds and Web Slices

  • Content Advisor settings

  • Pre-approved ActiveX controls

  • Temporary Internet file (cache) path settings

  • Certificate information

  • Internet Programs (e‑mail, instant messenger, and other programs associated with Internet use)

  • Internet connection, proxy, and VPN settings

  • Default web browser setting

  • Toolbars are not restored

Not surprisingly, I could not reproduce this issue on my non-firm imaged “vanilla” Windows 7 workstation. To find the cause, I turned to Process Monitor and ran a trace of IE when I selected the Reset button in the Advanced tab of Internet Options. The trace was over 20k operations and I had no idea what I was looking for. Looking at the operations on the .lnk as they got deleted (CloseFile operation) was not going to tell me why the links were getting deleted. A file summary might help, however. My guess was that IE was reading a file somewhere to decide how to handle some of reset parameters. To quickly get a list of files, I used Tools > File summary and quickly saw what IE was performing most of its read operations on:

image

I navigated to C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer\CUSTOM and opened the INSTALL.INS file. I scanned the text file and spotted a suspect: FavoritesDelete=0x708F

image

Sure this was the cause, I deleted that line, opened IE, imported a few links, ran the Reset in IE again, closed, opened, and saw this time the IE Favorites were not deleted. Some quick research shows that the custom.ins file is deployed when the Internet Explorer Admin Kit is used to customize settings when IE is installed.

Another clue would be the log created after the IE Reset was done as it writes the changes in the brndlog.txt file (number 3 in the file summary image above):

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