This has been happening since a long time now. Sometimes when I need to cold-boot my Leopard installations, I log back in to my Desktop just to see everything has gone awry. Preferences for all my applications have been reset and my Documents are nowhere to be found. My only solution then had been to reformat my system and get back to the pristine state. That is, until yesterday.
I’ll back up a bit and explain my set up a little better. I have partitioned my OS X drive into two partitions named: "Macintosh HD" – the Leopard drive, and "Documents" – where I have moved all my data, as well as my Home folder. This ensures that whenever I may need to reformat (which I do, nearly all the time), my documents and preferences can be restored by dragging and dropping them into the new Home folder. It’s effortless really, and an amazing feature of a registry free system.
Back to the problem: I decided to look further into the issue and found that the Disk Utility was reporting that my "/Volumes/Documents" partition had been renamed to "/Volumes/Documents 1". A trivial solution I had tried in the past was to relocate my Home Folder to the new partition name, to no avail. Google brought me to this helpful page on Apple’s Support Web site. I found out that a Mount point had been created – "Documents 1" as the older Mount Point "Documents" was now invalid (and showed up as a folder instead of a Mount Point icon). I had to simply delete the Documents mount point to get my preferences / documents back to where they are supposed to be.
Turns out, one needs to have another account on the Mac one is trying to fix with Admin privileges, to delete the invalid Mount point reference. Once that is done, a quick restart and Bob’s your uncle, and I’m so glad I don’t have to sit through another format/reinstall.