|Not sure if I can help but for the benefit of others can you say:|
Did system restore not run, or did it run but still no desktop icons?
Can you give a summary of the fixes you tried otherwise you might get them all again?
Presumably this was the first thing you tried:
Did you search for the name of some of the desktop icons - they may have moved off into another folder?
You will be able to look at the HD using a Live Linux CD produced on another computer. These only use the CD and RAM. If your own files are there you will be able to save them to a flash drive.
Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks