Explorer.exe not loading

March 23, 2009 at 09:39:10
Specs: Windows XP Home, 1026
I´m not a computer expert -- very good at them and extremely good at getting around issues and cleaning up messes (in my own way). I was called in to help my mother on her pc as it wasn´t making it beyond the background of the desktop. I can access everything from the task manager and have been able to show her how to bring back her icons/start menu temporarily and start up programs without the icons, but for some reason nothing remains once the machine is rebooted.

I´ve checked in c:/windows and the explorer there keeps having problems -- tells me it´s not right for sys32 folder. I´ve put a clean explorer.exe in both the sys32 directory and windows directory...still it keeps having problems.

I´ve put a clean one under just the c drive and when I use that one, it works (but doesn´t stay once rebooted). So I have it in an easily found position and she can access it and get her icons. Again, once rebooted, she has to do it again.

I´ve tried pinning explorer.exe to the start menu, but it doesn´t seem to hold, even though it says it´s pinned.

I´ve run registry cleaners and adaware, but the problem is still there. Unfortunately, I don´t have the amount of time needed right now to run a completely new install or do anything too drastic. I´ve asked her to clean up her hard drive and put all the things she wants to keep together so I can help her move them to a safe location off of that pc. In case it crashes or we need to reinstall everything, at least her files will be safe.

I have all sorts of questions to ask about this problem, but I guess the main thing I need to know is whether this is a bad omen for things to come (is this the beginning of the end for this computer?). Otherwise, will a new install of windows permanently fix the problem? She currently still has sp1 on her pc, maybe I should upgrade to sp3, but I hear too many horror stories about programs not working, I can´t do that to her now.

Any help or information would be great.



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March 23, 2009 at 10:14:04
"I was called in to help my mother on her pc as it wasn´t making it beyond the background of the desktop."

By any chance does she have an ATI video chipset on her computer?

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March 23, 2009 at 10:39:49
I´m going to have to say: No, to that. I don´t believe she does. But, maybe I checked in the wrong place? I checked her device manager to see. Also, I guess I should add that the pc is 6 years old and never had a problem -- she´s had BitDefender for a few years. while looking for an answer to your question, I noticed that her Networking device has 2 that are not working: both related to bitdefender (1) BitDefender Firewall NDIS filter miniport and (2) WAN miniport (IP) bitdefender firewall NDIS filter.

Could bitdefender be causing this? Maybe I need to reinstall?

(I am curious about your ATI question though...

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March 23, 2009 at 11:27:07
It sounds like the pointer to the graphics interface program (normally explorer.exe) is corrupted. In Win98 I believe that pointer was in System.ini, but I don't know where it is in WinXP.

In case you haven't tried them yet, a System Restore and System File Checker are probably worth a try.

(edit) Just thought of something. I wonder if reinstalling a service pack would fix that problem.

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Related Solutions

March 23, 2009 at 11:38:15
"Could bitdefender be causing this? Maybe I need to reinstall? "

Could be, but un-install it in Add/Remove Programs before you re-install it.

"I am curious about your ATI question though..."

I saw the same symptoms when a friend had downloaded and installed ATI video driver related downloads and had installed them in the wrong order. Un-installing those in Add/Remove Programs and installing them in the right order fixed the problem. It took me quite a while to figure that out.
In that case, you could press Alt-Ctrl-Del when the desktop froze while booting, and run explorer.exe to make the icons on the desktop appear, but you were back in the same situation after you rebooted. My friend is a quadrapelic and cannot press keyboard keys, so the computer was unusable to her in that state, unless she got somone to do that for her..

On the other hand, lots of problems can cause those symptoms.

Try repeatedly pressing F8 while booting, don't hold down the key, starting right after the mboard beeps once or the monitor led turns green, and from the boot choices menu choose....

- Enable VGA mode - that mode loads everything normally except it forces Windows to use default VGA drivers that all video adapters support rather than the specific drivers that have been loaded for the video chipset.
If that gets you to the desktop and the icons on the desktop load normally, your problem is related to the video drivers or the programs that come with the video drivers.

If that gets you to the desktop and the icons on the desktop load normally, you need to properly un-install and re-install the video drivers and related programs. You can do that in normal mode or Enable VGA mode - sometimes you can't do that in Safe mode.

If that doesn't help...

- Safe mode -
If that gets you to the desktop and the icons on the desktop load normally, your problem is probably NOT related to the video drivers or the programs that come with the video drivers, but is related to something that loads in normal mode that doesn't load in safe mode.

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March 23, 2009 at 15:44:10
Ok, thank you both. As soon as my son hits his bed tonight, I´ll try your suggestions. She hasn´t installed or changed anything on her computer, but she is always getting joke emails from all her other senior-friends. It could be something got in there and changed/corrupted something else. I´ll attempt to tackle this and let you know my results.

Thank you again!

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March 23, 2009 at 19:22:45
"...the pc is 6 years old ..."

I'm assumimg it has XP on it.

"....is this the beginning of the end for this computer?..."

Windows might need to be repaired by doing what many call a "Repair install" procedure - without losing her present data - or re-loaded if that doesn't work, but if the system has been stable for that long, it will probably continue to be stable.

You could check the hard drive, but you haven't mentioned anything so far that might indicate there's anything wrong with it. I have several hard drives that are 10 years old or older and they still work fine.

Check your hard drive with the manufacturer's diagnostics.
See the latter part of response 1 in this:

(thanks to Dan Penny for this link:)
Hard Drive Diagnostics Tools and Utilities

If you don't have a floppy drive, you can get a CD image diagnostic utility from most hard drive manufacturer's web sites, but obviously you would need to make a burned CD, preferably a CD-R for best compatibilty, on another computer if you need to.

If the hard drive itself tests okay, any data problems found can be fixed, one way or another.

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March 24, 2009 at 13:07:22
Thank you again. Unfortunately, the pc today is somehow much worse than yesterday. I can turn on the icons, momentarily, but they´ll soon disappear once again if I try to access something that no longer has a valid path (like the Control Panel). Somehow we´ve lost the internet connection (yesterday, I was pretty much able to do everything, but without icons). I´m hoping the DVD writer will be fine and I can simply burn a copy of her docs/data onto a disk and reinstall. Otherwise, since I´m still a bit unsure of whether or not some unknown bug is in there causing problems, I´m a bit nervous about using my own external HD to copy anything.

I tried the reinstall FIX, but I guess this machine will need the full reinstall.

Since the HD does seem fine (and stable), I guess the best thing to do is to reformat the drive and start from a clean slate. There are two disks with this pc -- one to reinstall the program and another for the drivers. Can you tell me if I can just load them in the order on the cd or is there a particular order that I should be following for the drivers (since tubesandwires mentioned the issue above about the drives going in the wrong order).

Again, I appreciate your comments and help on this issue.

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March 25, 2009 at 08:08:21
I urge you to run the hard drive manufacturer's diagnostics before you do anything else.

"There are two disks with this pc -- one to reinstall the program and another for the drivers. "

If you mean - one to reinstall the original brand name software installation and another for the drivers.....

- the one with the drivers is meant to be used if you need to re-install device drivers and associated programs and usually has the same device drivers and associated programs as in the software downloads for the model on the brand name's web site, though the ones on the web site may be newer

- the one to re-install the original brand name software installation is often called a Recovery disk or similar.
It requires that the data contents of the second partition (that the original hard drive always has when a brand name software has been installed) are intact and unaltered.
Sometimes the brand name software installation hides that second partition from the user being able to see it in Windows - sometimes it doesn't and the second partition is visible to the user in Windows but they are strongly cautioned not to alter it's data contents, or they may not be allowed to alter it's data contents.
If there's nothing wrong with the data on that second partition, using that Recovery disk will go fine, but most Recovery or similar programs will QUIT if the checksum of the data is not correct, or they will certainly quit if the data isn't there.
If there's nothing wrong with the hard drive physically, usually there's nothing wrong with the data on that second partition.

If you try using that Recovery CD and the program quits....

- if you want to re-install the original software installation, you need a Recovery disk set, not just one CD. If Windows is still working well enough, you can usually make the set of Recovery CDs in Windows by using a program supplied by the brand name that is already in All Programs.
If Windows is NOT working well enough to make the set, or if the brand name supplied program to make them is not there, you can often order a Recovery CD set for the exact model from the brand name's web site. If that's not available from there, you could try searching the web for such a set - there are web sites that have copies of the sets they can sell you. In either case, the set plus shipping usually costs you a lot less than even one new OEM XP Home CD.

- if she doesn't care whether the original brand name software installation is installed, as long as it has Windows on it and that works well, the OEM Windows license included with the brand name system / software installation allows you to legally use a regular OEM Windows CD, or a bootable copy of one, of the same version as the original software installation had, Home or Pro, along with the Product Key found on the official Microsoft sticker that's on the outside of the case somewhere, to re-install Windows.
However, that's more work for you.
After Setup has finished, you must load
- the drivers for the mboard including the main chipset drivers.
- the drivers and software for things that came with the system Windows didn't automatically find the drivers for otherwise - either from the drivers CD, or from the software downloads for the model on the brand name's web site

Whenever you load Windows from a regular Windows CD (or DVD) from scratch, after Setup is finished you must load the drivers for the mboard, particularly the main chipset drivers, in order for Windows to have the proper drivers for and information about your mboard hardware, including it's AGP or PCI-E, ACPI, USB 2.0 if it has it, and hard drive controller support. If you have a generic system and have the CD that came with the mboard, all the necessary drivers are on it. If you load drivers from the web, brand name system builders and mboard makers often DO NOT have the main chipset drivers listed in the downloads for your model - in that case you must go to the maker of the main chipset's web site, get the drivers, and load them.

Further info can be found on the brand name system's web site by searching using something such as: Recovery, or Recovery CD set, or Recovery disk set, etc.

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March 27, 2009 at 18:12:47
Wow, that was a lot to take in, but very useful. Thank you so much. I ran the diagnostics on the HD from the website posted a few messages back and it was fine. Since my mother is only interested in using her pc for the web, email and solitaire -- and since the repair didn´t work -- I felt like I had nothing to lose. I took the chance, followed your instructions with the drivers, and -- with the exception of a few more peripheries that need to be loaded -- my mother seems delighted with her new, speedier pc. I truly appreciate your help.

I think I may have inadvertently figured out part of the problem (I don´t know if it was the cause or not though). When I tried to reload bitdefender (AV and firewall package) it wouldn´t load as it was asking for the pc to have at least XP(Home) SP2. I don´t think my mother ever upgraded the SP´s before, but bitdefender was working. I think there must´ve been some update (possibly recently) that was interfering in some way. All seems fine, I updated her pc even with SP3 and so far so good.

Thank you again. Take care!

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March 28, 2009 at 09:15:31
We're glad to hear you solved your problem!

"I don´t think my mother ever upgraded the SP´s before....."

I think it's more likely some file or files got corrupted than SP2 updates had never been installed, otherwise Bit defender would have refused to install in the first place.

I just looked at the official SP2 updates CD I have - the folders and most of the files are dated 8/4/2004 - and the final SP2 updates download was available before that.

If Bit Defender was installed after that, say, within a year later, or later, it probably would have required SP2 updates.

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