Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 329050 contains the following summary:
This article describes troubleshooting methods that you can use to resolve missing Network and Dial-up Connections icons. The following issues may occur if you click Start , point to Settings , and then double-click Network and Dial-up Connections or if you right-click My Network Places on the desktop and then click Properties .
|•||The Local Area Connection icon is missing.|
|•||The dial-up connection icons are missing.|
|•||The Make New Connection wizard icon is missing.|
|•||Only the Make New Connection icon appears, or one or more dial-up connections also appear.|
|•||If you click the Advanced menu, and then click Advanced Settings , only the \[Remote Access connections\] entry appears in the Connections pane.|
|•||The Network and Dial-up Connections Explorer quits responding (hangs) after you select a network connection and then click Properties .|