Re: Windows XP Explorer Restarts without warning
From: Don Taylor (dont_at_agora.rdrop.com)
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2004 19:50:58 -0600
"=?Utf-8?B?UmljaCBCcmVzbmFoYW4=?=" <RichBresnahan@discussions.microsoft.com> writes:
>I am running Windows XP Pro SP2 (but have had the same problem with XP Home
>SP1 & SP2). Basically, when exploring the files on my hard drive Windows
>Explorer (Taskbar and everything) momentarily goes blank and then restarts.
>It doesn't load all the icons in the lower right corner but I believe they
>are still running.
>I used to think this had to do with viewing large (~2mb) pictures but it
>also happens when viewing other files as well. There doesn't appear to be a
>trigger for this as it can happen anytime after exploring some files.
>Please help me!
It isn't clear that the Windows Explorer picture viewing crashes are
the result of the same bug as eveyone else's Windows Explorer crashes
but maybe something in this will help you.
New developments listed at the bottom of this, but still no fix, yet.
There have now been over 200 people reporting very similar problems
to what you are reporting. Some find that anything which uses
Windows Explorer (Recycle bin, folder shortcuts, control panel,
search, etc) all have a similar problem. Some find that right
clicks are their major problem. Some find any click. Some find
it crashes on open. Some find it refuses any clicks. Some claim
they know how to fix this but I've read the tens of thousands of
postings on SP2 and I don't think you will find any with "the fix"
for this, at least not yet. Less than a dozen people ever reported
finding a solution for this.
But, some find it will work when you boot in safe mode.
And, some find it will work when you create a new user and switch
to that user to try it.
One of those might be a temporary work-around till you get an answer.
Some claim it is all spyware and viruses but I haven't seen any
posting that confirmed this for the Windows Explorer problem. I
carefully and repeatedly checked, no viruses or spyware and my
windows explorer locks up every time. <<<Late breaking news, after
hundreds of people reporting this problem, ONE person did let me
know that trendmicro actually found a WORM_SDDROP.A virus/worm, he
removed that and it appeared to solve his problem, so that's 10,000
times people chanting "it's all viruses and spyware" and one correct
Some claim it is all "bad applications" like Divx or Spy Sweeper
being installed that is responsible for this, a very few people
have confirmed this appeared to be the source of their problem but
others have these installed and have no problem, most reporting the
problem don't have these installed and still have the problem. I
don't have either and it locks up every time. And unfortunately
there is still no list of specific files known to cause this.
Some claim it is all "ShellExtensions", little accessory gadgets
that sort of script extra cute features. The advice for that is
to install free ShellExView and to try (carefully) disabling these
features one at a time, if turning one off doesn't do anything then
turn it back on and try again. I did that with all 75 at once and
it made no difference at all. Two people have reported that disabling
one extension they had did appear to fix their problem.
Some claim it is all "corrupted user profiles" that are the
cause of this but I've never been able to track down a tool that
would check a user profile to see if it was corrupted. There was
one web page that Microsoft had which described a way of reporting
errors found in this but this doesn't appear feasible for XP.
You can try to uninstall SP2, there are various descriptions of how
to do that, using Control Panel/Add-Remove Programs or using a
Restore point or doing a Repair Install of Windows or reformatting
your hard drive, each of those is a bigger hammer than the previous
method, but a number of folks have reported having various problems
when they try to remove SP2 or after they do so. To be fair, SP2
probably fixes thousands of small and massive bugs in Windows XP
and if you can get it to work it is probably a good thing to have.
You can escalate to Microsoft, go to
http://support.microsoft.com/windowsxpsp2 and give them all the
details and clues and patterns you can find. There is no guarantee
that their analysis or directions will be correct or even not make
it worse. They told me I must "have some corrupted files, repair
windows back to install state and then reinstall SP2 twice while
in Safe mode." Before I did that someone posted the "switch user"
workaround that let me get by temporarily. I sent email saying
that if it worked for one user then it seemed less likely it was
"some corrupted files" and asked if they still wanted me to blow
windows away. They have not reponded to that in a number of days
now. But I can imagine what it is like inside now.
You can try each one of these things and see if any one of them
helps, but don't expect a fix.
I just spent another two hours in chat with Microsoft Support, he
changed his diagnosis a dozen times, going back to things we had
already concluded had nothing to do with this, he thought that a
file might have been corrupted during installation and this would
leave an error message in /windows/setuperr.log, that file is empty,
so he thought there might be answers in /windows/setupapi.log but
he said he was not trained to know how to interpret that file, and
the final conclusion was that he didn't know how to fix this one
and I was "escalated", again.
So the next guy had me run msconfig, in the startup tab disable all
items, in the service tab hide all Microsoft services and disable
all, reboot the machine, tell it not to show or launch the config
window... If the problem had disappeared after this was done then
the instructions were to begin enabling these items one at a time
until the one was found that made this fail. My Windows Explorer
problem was unchanged and I was "escalated" again.
So the next guy had me download a copy of Process Explorer and dump
out all the dll's that are connected with Windows Explorer and mail
them to him. Just like the situation with shell extensions, I see
that all but a couple of these are Microsoft supplied. After he had
seen the list he asked that I rename some of the non-Microsoft dll's
and reboot, likely to see if they were responsible. The problem was
still there and I've restored the original names. Now we seem to be
back to square one and he's asking again if this happens in Safe
mode, which we have already repeatedly covered.
Now we've sent him HijackThis logs, 3 megabytes of ntuser.dat, he
keeps claiming they DO have a process for figuring this out but
there just isn't anything that can diagnose what the problem is and
they just keep trying things until the problem seems to go away.
And he asks me to send him HijackThis logs again. He admits that
lots of people have problems with Windows Explorer and that usually
they can figure something out but that there is no list of known
file names/sizes/dates/version numbers that fail, there is no list
of steps a person can follow to track this down. And they spent a
billion bucks making Sp2 more secure and bug free! But that doesn't
put anything in the event log for Windows Explorer failures and the
flood of error reports send to them when people have this happens
apparently doesn't give them any clue what the cause is either.
Another week goes by before he responds... and he didn't find
anything in the HijackThis logs this time either. And he didn't
find anything in ntuser.dat. Now he has me back to msconfig,
turning everything off in msconfig for selective startup and
rebooting, with a cute little note that doing this isn't recommended
for anyone but a pro to do. The problem is still there. As a
bonus, his directions have now blown away my Windows activation and
it is telling me that the computer has changed and I have to
reactivate, even though nothing has changed in months.
That didn't do solve the problem so now he concludes it must be one
of the hardware drivers and he tells me to start disabling those
until we find the culprit. But this is senseless, we have already
ruled that out because switching to a freshly created new user makes
the problem go away. He hasn't answered whether he still wants me
to disable the drivers yet.
Can you say "clueless groping, hoping for a miracle"? 3 1/2 weeks
of playing this game with them and no sign that any progress has
So I have repeatedly told them I don't just want to randomly change
things until we don't notice the problem anymore, I'm going to track
down the real root cause of this one and we are going to get a fix
I hope something in this helps someone. But it appears that the
large majority of people never get a fix for the "Windows Explorer"
problem. If someone tells you to try something and it doesn't help
then please make a posting so we can start accumulating what
suggestions don't do any good. And if someone tells you something
that does work then please report it.