Explorer.exe infected or corrupted. Help!

March 5, 2011 at 03:30:44
Specs: Windows XP, 1 GB
I have a problem with my computer. I've discovered that my 'explorer.exe' is corrupted/infected. No Desktop icons or the 'START' bar bellow appear (or how do you call it w/e). I've tried to RIGHT-CLICK but the 'Taskbar' doesn't work either. I have the CD and tried to 'Repair' but it got me confused as hell (trust me, you wouldn't understand it). So my last chance is 'Recovery via the console'.


I'm at the 'Which Windows installation would you like to log onto
<To cancel, press ENTER>? 1' (scroll down to see the screenshot)

At this point, I need help from you. The 'explorer.exe' is at the 'Local Disk (C:)'.

Please tell me how to recover (or repair) using the recovery console. I'm very close.

If I use the 'Recovery via the console', would it delete all my programs?
Nothing of concern but I want to know what it'll happen.

Thank you...


I've read other similar problems but none of them really helped me. I have a similar problem but with other answers.


I'm a beginner of what I'm doing. Please bear with me.

See More: Explorer.exe infected or corrupted. Help!

March 5, 2011 at 04:10:57
Better please reinstall the operating system....


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March 5, 2011 at 12:10:15
First of all, how do you know it's corrupted or infected? Is it just because you don't see the desktop icons and start menu/task bar? Open up Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc), go into properties, and verify that Explorer.exe is running. If it's not, go to the Applications tab, click New Task, and type in explorer.exe

Secondly, when repairing a Windows installation, you don't use the recovery console unless you have good instruction to do so. When you boot from your Windows CD and it loads up, you get options to Setup Windows and Repair. Choose Setup, then choose your Windows installation, then choose Repair. This is the automatic repair, not repair via recovery console.

After it's repaired, you will need to do all the Microsoft updates again because your Windows installation will revert to the version you have the CD for.

Lastly, you do NOT need to reinstall Windows. A repair will reinstall the Windows files and keep your documents. A reinstallation will mean you lose your documents.

Apologies if I don't respond to your reply immediately. I don't check this site daily, but you're welcome to PM me as a reminder.

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March 5, 2011 at 16:12:34
Well, I've managed to open the Taskbar in 'Safe mode'. I might try and repair the computer there. Although, when I've clicked 'New Task', the 'explorer.exe' didn't exists but it gave me 'explorer.exe.vir'.

"Vir" from "Virus", perhaps?

It would look like this: C:\Windows\explorer.exe.vir

I said myself maybe that's it but when I've tried to open it, it asked me to:

-Use the web service to find an appropiate program


-Select the program from a list

When you boot from your Windows CD and it loads up, you get options to Setup Windows and Repair. Choose Setup, then choose your Windows installation, then choose Repair. This is the automatic repair, not repair via recovery console.

I actually done that but here's what options it gave me:

->To set up Windows on the selected item, press ENTER

->To create a partition in the unpartitioned space, press C

->To delete the selected partition, press D

There isn't a 'Repair' option. There isn't a 'To repair the selected Windows XP Installation, press R'. That option doesn't exists at that part.

I have multiple drivers: C: D: & E:

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Related Solutions

March 6, 2011 at 15:44:00
--Repairing Explorer.exe--
I'd try booting in Safe Mode w/ Networking, get Malwarebytes Free, and do a full system scan.

If that doesn't fix your problem, navigate to C:\WINDOWS\system32 then locate and delete explorer.exe.vir It should be replaced almost immediately with a new copy named explorer.exe. If it doesn't, navigate to C:\WINDOWS\system32\dllcache locate browserui.dll and copy it to C:\WINDOWS\system32

--Repairing Windows--
My previous steps were from memory, but I got it now. After you boot from a Windows XP Installation disk, it takes a minute or two to load setup files, then takes you to a screen:

After pressing Enter at the Setup screen, press F8 at the license screen, then it should detect your Windows installation and show you this screen:

This is where you'll press the R key to repair the Windows installation. It will bring your installation back to the version from the disk. So, if your disk is Windows XP Pro SP1, your installation will be brought back from SP3 to SP1. After the OS repair has completed, some tools in Windows may not function until you update back to Service Pack 3 and all the other Windows updates available.

If you get to the Repair Console, you're in the wrong area:

If you don't get to the second screen which detects your previous installation and allows you to repair it, then something isn't right. You mentioned C:\ is your Local disk. Is the D:\ a CD/DVD drive of sorts? I'd assume so. Is E:\ an alternate drive like an additional internal hard drive, external hard drive, or flash drive of sorts? If so, try disconnecting drive E:\ and then see if you're shown the Windows installation as shown in picture 2.

Apologies if I don't respond to your reply immediately. I don't check this site daily, but you're welcome to PM me as a reminder.

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March 7, 2011 at 07:40:05
I've managed to make it with Network. I've downloaded Malwarebytes. Right now, while I'm writing this, it's doing a full scan.

I'll be back if things got any better...

No luck... there aren't any icons or the 'START' bar.

I have to tell you some things, Xps86. Just in case...

1) With or without network, in 'Safe mode', I still don't see any icons or the 'START' bar. My computer was hit pretty bad.

2) When you said about repairing the computer with the Windows' CD, you gave me this image: http://a.imageshack.us/img839/9466/...

Instead of giving me that *good* screen, it gave me something alike this one: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/46/1...

That isn't my screen and you can see there isn't a 'Repair' option. I have something like that but a little different. Still, the same options appear.

3) I haven't found the 'explorer.exe.vir' in 'WINDOWS'. It isn't there...

4) It didn't showed me the 'dll.cache' folder but the 'browserui.dll' was, already,in system32.


I've found 'explorer.exe', somehow...

I deleted it. Did I done a good thing? By deleting it?

I'm restarting the computer.

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March 7, 2011 at 08:22:36
*Sorry for the double post.*

I've deleted the 'explorer.exe' (the old one) and I've copied a new 'explorer.exe' in 'WINDOWS' in 'Safe mode'.

That's it! I've managed to repair 'Safe mode' with another 'explorer.exe'.
OMG, I'm very close to fix it.

What should I do now?
When I start up Windows normally, it doesn't has icons or the 'START' bar. But in 'Safe mode', no problem.

Also, the 'Task manager' doesn't work either.


No use. I think I have to return in 'Safe mode' to finish the repair.

What now?

*Additional information*

Everytime I open in 'Safe mode' (after I've pasted the new and healthy explorer.exe), there's a message it's telling me:

Windows is running in safe mode.
This special diagnostic mode of Windows enables you to fix a problem which may be caused by your network or hardware settings. Make sure these settings are correct in Control Panel, and then try starting Windows again. While in safe mode, some of your devices may not be avaible.

To proceed to work in safe mode, click "Yes". If you prefer to use System Restore to restore your computer to a previous state, click "No".

Afterwards, I've tried to see what the 'BACKUP' program says.

START > All Programs > Accesories > System Tools > Backup

The Backup Utility cannot connect to the Removable Storage service.This service is required for use of tape drives and other backup devices.
Please exit and start the Removable Storage service using the Systemservices function of the Management Console.

I'm not sure if I need the 'Backup' utility to repair my computer.

Xps86, I need you more than ever on this. I'm very close...

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March 7, 2011 at 12:11:00
You're doing great! Sorry about mentioning browserui.dll. I was helping someone else out but meant to replace that name with explorer.exe to help your situation. Glad you were able to figure it out though.

Now that you've replaced Explorer.exe, you should be getting that message when you boot in Safe Mode. It's basically saying, "You booted in Safe Mode. Do you want to be here or did you mean to use System Restore?"

You shouldn't need to use the Backup function. That's Microsoft's tool if you want to take files from your present hard drive and place them on a different one.

In post 5, you mentioned running Malwarebytes. Did it find any threats? That explorer.exe.vir has me wondering and I'm still searching around the web for answers. The real explorer.exe is the shell, the GUI of Windows which includes the Start menu, desktop icons, etc. There is still a problem which is why you can't see these things when you boot normally. Even without explorer.exe running, you should still be able to use Task Manager, so this problem is even more difficult.

Now that you can boot in Safe Mode and you have the option to use System Restore, I would suggest you try restoring to a point before you had any of these problems on your computer. I think you may have a problem with another of Windows' important files, winlogon.exe. I also think we should stick with one repair method at a time and come back to WIndows Repair later if need be.

Apologies if I don't respond to your reply immediately. I don't check this site daily, but you're welcome to PM me as a reminder.

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March 7, 2011 at 14:01:03
Actually yes, the Malwarebytes did find many threats. But, sadly, it solved nothing.

I've done a system restore. The problem came in February and I choose a date somewhere in December.
And the result... no icons, no 'START' bar.
I check, again, in 'Safe mode', and this popped:

"Restoration incomplete"

It said that no changes were made and it asked me if I would like to try again.

I've done it the 2nd time and this happened, while the restoration: the blue bar came at the middle *35%-45% completion* after 3-5 minutes and then, in 1-2 second(s), it popped to the finish like the restoration was done.
I check the results in 'Safe mode': "Restoration incomplete".

Hmm... does winlogon.exe has something to do with this?


This is more like a surprising moment. You know, after I've turned off the computer and started it normally, for a second, I thought the problem was solved. But read here: the icons came back (most of them had the default icon or what it is called): http://www.cutelittlefactory.com/wp...

*It's the one selected.*

But the 'START' bar was missing, although the icons came back, unclickable and no response from the 'Task manager'.

Do you think the winlogon.exe has something to do with this?
This moment happens when I enter, firstly, in 'Safe mode' and then, after I've turned the computer off and turned it on, I enter normally.

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March 7, 2011 at 21:27:31
I was looking around the web for people who have had similar problems to yours and some of them pointed to a problem with winlogon.exe too, so I'm just curious if you had any input on it. Your problem is unique for my experience, so we both get to learn something new.

After running Malwarebytes and fixing the threats, did you run it a second or even third time until it picked up zero threats? Another free program I suggest is SuperAntispyware. No program is perfect at detecting and removing threats, so it's good to try multiple programs, and these two are awesome. One thing to note, SuperAntispyware will also detect Tracking Cookies which aren't necessarily malicious but a good thing to clean up anyway.

System Restore failing is not a good sign, and we may be looking into Windows repair again soon.

Apologies if I don't respond to your reply immediately. I don't check this site daily, but you're welcome to PM me as a reminder.

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March 8, 2011 at 05:35:55
No, I haven't done a 2nd run of Malwarebytes. Also, I'll download SuperAntispyware and do a 2nd run again.

I'll come back a bit later.

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March 9, 2011 at 09:36:30
*Alright, sorry, again, for the double post.*

I've runned both Malwarebytes and SuperAntispyware.

I've opened it normally and all the icons, everytiem, I think, I turn on the computer, the icons appears, I can select them for a brief moment but then they become unselected.

I'm very close. But still, you mention about this winlogon.exe.
What should I so, now?



No, wait... I've turned it on the 3rd time and no icons, no 'START' bar.

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March 12, 2011 at 00:57:44
No solution, then?

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March 15, 2011 at 16:16:22
I've re-done, again, with the SuperAntispyware and I've discovered teh option of repairing some programs. I've selected them, clicked 'Repair' and restarted. The results were the same: no chances.

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March 17, 2011 at 18:07:18
I'll try and find help somewhere else...

Reinstalling Windows is out of the question because this happened sudden and I'd lose important data.

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