Recover windows files (no backup)

This is perhaps the most embarassing thing I've asked help for, but a family member took it upon themselves to 'free up space' on their computer, and proceeded to, I assume, delete a lot of files from the windows folder.

Windows starts up, but is says a desktop file is missing, so it's blank. There's no i.explorer, and I'm fairly sure the search function isn't working. It's pretty much like everything that's not 100% vital to windows actually starting up is missing.

System backup was not enabled, so is there any way I can recover those files?

Thanks in advance.
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    The only things that come to my mind are 1) try a repair installation if you have an original windows disk, or 2) if windows was pre-installed in the factory, pull the disk drive, use another machine to copy off what data files you have, put the disk back and do a factory reset.
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