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explorer.exe crashes on startup (but only on first login session)

By Anubeon
May 15, 2007
  1. Greetings All,

    My Windows XP laptop (recently repaired) seems to be experiencing some difficulties starting explorer.exe. Whenever I login (first session) after booting the system up I receive a rather generic message informing me that there was a problem with explorer.exe and it had to be stopped (plus the usual 'if you had open files...yadda,yadda...data could be lost...yadda,yadda...stuff). However when I log out from that session and swiftly log back into the same account (without a reboot) explorer.exe loads successfully with no hint of difficulty.

    I am at a loss to explain this one, at first I thought that perhaps I'd picked up a virus/malware but I would assume that if that were the case my explorer.exe woes would not be confined to the first login session only. Why would explorer so consistently fail to load during the first session after booting and succeed in the second (and I assume third and forth and...)?

    I'll probably perform an sfc scan at some point to see whether any system files have been damaged/compromised and I have already conducted several safe mode scans using Avast! Anti-Virus Pro, Ad-Aware SE Pro, A-Squared Free Edition to no avail. However if these symptoms sound familiar to any of you I would be most grateful for a diagnosis.

    Kindest,
    Lee

    (anubeon@gmail.com)
     
  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    Are we talking about Internet Exporer 6.0 or 7.0? Are all the Windows updates downloaded and installed?
    If IE 7.0, you can uninstall it, which will automatically go back to 6.0. Then you can try a new download of 7.0
     
  3. Anubeon

    Anubeon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Greetings raybay!

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. ;)

    I'm afraid that we're talking something a little more serious than internet explorer crashing. I was referring to explorer.exe (the windows shell/window manager) and not iexplorer.exe (Microsoft's poultry attempt at creating a usable internet browser).

    Thanks again anyway! :)

    Kindest,
    Lee.

    (anubeon@gmail.com)
     
  4. Janes

    Janes TS Rookie Posts: 77

    Ok well.

    One option is to Format and re-install. hehe

    But lets see....

    Try this..
    I quote:
    "Get your XP installation CD handy

    When you get to the desktop with no Start Menu.
    Press CTRL + ALT+ DEL to open Task Manager. Go to File/New Task, run and type in
    "explorer.exe"
    That should bring back your Start Menu and Task Bar
    Then Start/Run and type in
    sfc /scannow (there is a space before /)
    OK

    If that does not work
    Boot from XP CD to Recovery Console. At the c:\ prompt, exactly type the following:

    expand d:\i386\user32.dl_ c:\windows\system32\user32.dll

    Press enter

    NOTES:
    d: is drive letter for your optical drive. Your drive letter may be different.
    Be sure to include _ (underscore symbol) in shell32.dl_
    Put one space between _ and c:\windows\

    When its finished, remove your XP CD and reboot normally. "
     
  5. Anubeon

    Anubeon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Greetings Janes!

    As I said I'll probably perform an sfc scan later to see if that solves the problem. While we're on the subject is there any way to exclude certain files from being restored during an sfc scan? I'm thinking of my patched uxtheme.dll.

    Unfortunately my copy of Windows XP is OEM and as such I was not provided with a bona fide Windows XP installation CD (which is frankly a rip off and an annoyance all rolled into one). I do have a product recovery disk which I recently used to restore my system after a warranty servicing. Thus I am, perhaps ironically, in the process of recovering/rebuilding my system to form.

    I assume given the lack of a Windows XP CD I won't be able to perform the last step? Unless there is another way to boot to recovery console (I can't remember but that may be one of the options in the F8 boot menu).

    Oh and thanks for the response! :D

    Laters,
    Lee

    (anubeon@gmail.com)
     
  6. Janes

    Janes TS Rookie Posts: 77

    Mmmmm...

    Well, if you have a valid licence for Windows I guess it wont be a problem to have a copied cd, anyway, No I dont think you can exclude files from the sfc check.

    No Offense but Windows repair is never the smart thing to do, I have tried the a couple of times and everytime I end up formatting and re-installing Windows. First do the sfc check and see wht it does, after that try to get a copy of windows and try the steps stated above.

    Thats pretty much (as far as I know) your best option, if anyone else can give opinion please do!!
     
  7. Anubeon

    Anubeon TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well I've conducted a full sfc scan and it doesn't seem to have helped, also I don't think there is a way to run recovery console without a Windows XP installation CD. Great decision Microsoft; by baring vendors from providing genuine installation disks you've just trebled the number of incidences of piracy. So I guess I'll have to find myself a copy of the Windows XP Pro/MCE installation disk. How annoying.

    I've also noticed that the system configuration utility (msconfig) always (every session) displays a startup notification asking whether or not to startup with windows next session. No matter whether or not I check the 'do not start with windows' check box it always appears at startup (it's haunting me). Might be an entirely separate issue or a symptom of the same issue.

    Would now be a good time to use Windows XP System Restore? I have a few recent system restore dates which pre-date both of these issues but I am always rather reluctant to use System Restore.

    1. Because half the time it doesn't work; it takes you through whole bl**dy process and after restarting tells you that the computer was not restored providing no explanation what-so-ever.

    2. I expect that most issues can be solved with an sfc scan and those that can't would usually survive a System Restore at the cost of recent configuration changes (of which I'm usually quite fond of and too lazy to redo).

    For now I'm going to try an online virus scan, they tend to catch things that for some reason Avast! (even in boot time mode) doesn't.

    Laters,
    Lee.

    (anubeon@gmail.com)

    ---{UPDATE}---

    Well I've had a bash at running system restore and what do ya know windows failed to successfully restore my system to an earlier configuration. Really what bloody use is it then, I've rarely had a system restore go right, and on those very rare occassions that they have gone right it's been of no use to me.
     
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