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10.5.8 Finder resets to default, desktop files gone!

Time:October 11
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The Finder on my 2008 Mac pro is really acting up at the moment an I have no idea what's going on.
My desktop has been wiped clean. Nothing there, except the drive icons. I don't keep much on the desktop but there should be a few folders and files that I always keep there for convenience. Also, Finder has reset to default settings - lost my custom Places from the sidebar and opens in icon view, which I never use.
I looked at the actual folder in Finder as well and the files are definitely not there.
What I have been doing:
I ran iDefrag on my files disk (INT HD 1TB) a few days ago (first time). I forgot to turn off Time Machine so they have probably been running at the same time.
Today Time Machine decided to backup everything from scratch, which I attribute to iDefrag switching everything around on my Files disk. Also filled the backup disk so I only have two backups at the moment, both from today.
Other than that, I have mostly been using Adobe Bridge, Photoshop and InDesign CS4 for editing quite big files. Also Firefox for normal web browsing.
Hard drives are reported to be ok. Profile is still the same name. The files are not in the Trash. Everything else is where it should be. System disk is 1/3 full. Files HD (which hasn't been affected AFAICS) 1 TB 1/2 full.
Does anyone know what could be happening to my machine?
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I had the same problem and finally discovered that somehow my Desktop folder had become a Package. I could not do anything on the desktop but the apps and the dock etc. were working fine. I went to Go/Home Folder/Desktop/Show Package Contents and everything was there. But nothing appeared on the desktop. I could not open a new folder and anything I tried to drag to the desktop resulted in a permissions error. I tried all of the above fixes and more. The solution? Trash the desktop folder from your Home folder, empty the trash, reboot and start all over again. If you're lucky like I was you will have a Time Machine backup and you can restore a previous Desktop easily. Worked for me!