Here is the answer for your particular problem (if listed below)
When you connect the pendrive/external hard drive in the infected computer, you see a shortcut with that drive name (eg:local disk j:) only (Nothing else)
When you connect to other laptop/desktops which are protected, you do not see any thing other than actual shortcut. When you double click, it gives a window asking location. It does not show your file at all
This particular person had Avast installed in his pc and scanned everything with the latest update (Avast pro). But he could not get any virus / spyware. I asked him to leave that for me as I wanted to give the step by step answer :)
Here is the answer.
First, download Norton 360
trial from this link
Download the latest virus definition for 32bit (windows xp will be a 32 bit for most of the users) here
(Select the 2013xxxx
-006-v5i32.exe (http is faster than ftp for me.
Keep in a pen drive or your system's desktop.
Restart the computer in safe mode. (Press f8 after the initial display(BIOS) and just before windows boot. Select safe mode. If it is difficult for you, switch off the pc while it boots and next time you get that window without pressing any key
Click Yes on the prompt (No will take you to restore to an earlier date).
Uninstall your current antivirus. Install Norton 360 Trial version.
After installing trial version. It will ask you to restart. Do not restart. Double click and update the virus definitions.
Restart the computer.
Double click on my computer, click on tools/ folder options and enable Show hidden files/show protected operating sytem files (You change it back to the actual after the scan).
Open the norton from system tray and click on Scan Now (bottom bar) or by clicking PC Security, click on Comprehensive scan. It may take some time for the full scan. Let it finish.
Let it clean the virus and do a restart Your laptop/Desktop is free from virus now !
Then scan the pendrive. It will delete an .ini file.
In the pen drive, click on the folder shortcut, select all (Control+A) and cut it (Control+X)
Then get into Root folder and paste it (Control+V). All the files will be moved to root folder.
Then delete that shortcut folder. (if you copy and paste, it will make a copy of entire content and takes lot of time to finish it).
This particular person was dead against Norton and now he changed to 'Not bad'
. He even told the director to change the Norton product to something like Avast.
Anyways - This is the solution to your problem . Tested & Working.
Instead of Norton, You may try with Kaspersky/Webroot etc. It may even work. I tried with Norton 360 and it cleaned nicely.
Thumbs.db /Desktop.ini / Recyclr etc are not virus (it is a part of hidden/operating system files. that will go off from desktop /drives the moment you hide(un check) 'show hidden operating system files'