Explorer.exe Application error - Explorer will be closed by Windows - cycle

Posted on 2003-11-12
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Dell Inspiron 5000
currently Windows 2000 SP 3 (see below)
currently IE 5 (see below)

Every time I boot and log into Windows 2000, the desktop begins to appear and then one of the following windows appears:

explorer.exe - Application Error
The instruction at "0x77fcc641" referenced memory at "0x002e005f". The memory could not be "read".
Click on OK to terminate the program


Program Error
explorer.exe has generated errors and will be closed by Windows.
You will need to restart the program.

An error log is being created.

If I click OK on the first window, explorer closes, the desktop disappears, re-appears and then the error appears again. (Note - the memory address is not always the same)

If the second window appears, explorer closes by itself automatically and then the desktop disappears, re-appears and then the error appears again.

The errors also occur in Safe Mode.

I can End Task on explorer.exe before the error occurs and run almost any program (except explorer.exe) through the Task Manager File\Run command - (finding the correct commands and switches has been fun!)

I have done a complete online scan for Viruses at Symantec's site... It is Safe and Clean

I have installed and uninstalled Win2K SP4 and IE 6 with all updates.

I have run the repair options with the Win2K Pro CD.

I used Dell's diagnostic tools to verify the memory and hardware

I loaded LiteStep, a replacement shell for Windows (www.litestep.net) and it gives me a desktop and the problem is gone as long as I use LiteStep as my shell. I can even open file manager and it uses explorer.exe to do it (explorer.exe shows up in the task manager).

However, I need to run the normal native Windows explorer shell without these errors. My understanding is that re-installing Windows will wipe out my docs and programs.

Question by:HighTechGeek
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LVL 49

Expert Comment

ID: 9737399

Have you done all these

Repair IE :

Start > Run rundll32 setupwbv.dll,IE6Maintenance "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\Setup\SETUP.EXE" /g


Start > Run rundll32.exe setupapi,InstallHinfSection DefaultInstall 132 C:\windows\inf\ie.inf

Reinstall IE:

Description of the Internet Explorer Repair Tool

How to Reinstall or Repair Internet Explorer and Outlook Express in Windows XP

Repair Internet Explorer 6


Unable to Open Link

IE Eradicators:




IE Download (From 2.0 to 6.0) and Service Packs/Patches

IE Download (From 1.0 to 6.0) and service Packs


Author Comment

ID: 9737431
I had run the latest AdAware and cleaned off spyware.

I will look into some of your other solutions.
However, Internet Explorer works fine. It is Windows Explorer that keeps failing.

Sorry if I didn't make that clear...

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LVL 49

Expert Comment

ID: 9737449
Generally reinstalling windows on top of the current OS should solve the issue

Also try copying explorer.exe from some other machine and put it in yours


Author Comment

ID: 9737468
I have reinstalled Window 9X and ME on top of itself with much success.

However, I thought re-installing Win2K would wipe out the registry and user SIDs and basically you will have to re-install everything. When installing Win2K, it warns you that the My Documents folder will be lost and over-written. Is this just another bogus scare tactic from Microsoft?

I will try copying explorer.exe from another PC.

I am turning in for the night. I will check back tomorrow. Thanks, Sunray!
LVL 15

Expert Comment

by:Rob Stone
ID: 9738486
Does it happen on all profiles?

Try SFC /SCANNOW or reapply the current SP.

Author Comment

ID: 9739868
I replaced explorer.exe with no luck - same errors

I signed in with another profile and I do not get the errors, however, the errors occur using the built-in Administrator account. If that account is corrupted, is there a way to delete that account or rebuild it?

Author Comment

ID: 9739918
I had previously run SFC with no luck. I am re-applying the service packs now and will let you know.

Thanks Stoner79 and Sunray for your help.

LVL 15

Accepted Solution

Rob Stone earned 1100 total points
ID: 9740016
If you log on with another administrative account go to the Documents And Settings folder and rename the built in admin folder to Administartor.old or something.  Then log back in under the administrator.

Expert Comment

ID: 9740640
Log on with another account with admin rights.
move folder:
c:\documents and settings\administrator
to a different location (i.e. c:\backup\administrator)

log on again as administrator.
the user profile will be recreated (and your problem will be hopefully solved). You will have your old files in the backup folder (c:\backup\administrator\desktop, c:\backup\administrator\my documents, and so on)


Author Comment

ID: 9745433
This was my first question on Experts Exchange.

Sunray, thanks for the awesome suggestions. Sorry the answer turned out to be much simpler than I thought. Is there a way I can give you kudos or something?

Stoner79, thanks for showing me not to overlook anything (and putting an end to this headache!)

ralonso, thanks for your input!


Author Comment

ID: 10156502
Someone emailed me asking for the "simple" solution, so I thought this might help clarify:

It turned out to be a corrupt account(s?). I had to sign in with another account that had administrator rights and then the error did not re-occur. You can then create a new account to replace the corrupt account (if you need to use the original account). One of the problems that I had was that the built in Administrator account was one of the corrupted accounts. So, as Stoner79 said, if you log on with another administrative account go to the Documents and Settings folder and rename the built in admin folder to Administartor.old or something.  Then log back in under the administrator and it builds a new file.

Of course, then you have to copy over desktop shortcuts, documents and favorites, but in my case that was no big deal.

The reason I said the fix was “simple”, was because all I really had to do was sign in with another account. I never really discovered “how” the accounts got corrupted or how to “fix” the accounts, but recreating the accounts sure beats reinstalling the OS!

If you have a whole bunch of PCs that are doing this (like the person that emailed me), you may have some work cut out for you or you may want to find out what’s causing the accounts to become corrupt.

By the way, after recreating the accounts, the problem has not recurred in 2 months on this particular PC.

Expert Comment

ID: 10218857
Through another search, I had found a suggestion that .jpg files with long names (such as are found in the various "Temporary Internet Files" folders) might be causing this problem.  I deleted all of them from all of the user accounts and the problem seems to have gone away with this method (after rebooting).


Expert Comment

ID: 10837762

I had this problem in windows 2k on a dell optiplex computer explorer.exe application error when I logged on in my profile.  When I logged on as administrator or anyone else the problem did not manifest.  What it turned out was that a SHORTCUT ON MY DESKTOP WAS CORRUPTED (no lie).  This may have been caused when I downloaded a security patch I don't know.  What I did to fix this was to put all desktop shortcuts in a folder and put some out on the desktop to see which one causes the problem.  Even when this shortcut appeared in a folder and even the recycle bin it cause the error when viewed on the screen.

I also tried to get rid of spyware or aberrant programs this didn't fix the problem, but overall is a worthwhile thing to do.  I couldn't believe how much junk was there.  I used ad-aware 6.

Expert Comment

ID: 10930683
Glad I sifted through the pages.

Have the exact same problem since loading AOL9.0 (blek!)

Give these suggestions a try.

I only have the one account (administrator). Will this be a problem?

thanks for the info.

Expert Comment

ID: 11523409
Well People:

I am also getting the Explorer.exe - Application error with the message about "The instruction at "XXXXXXXXX" referenced memory at "XXXXXXXXX". The memory could not be "read". Click on OK to terminate the program.

I tried everything on this forum and actually reloaded the SW again into my system, clean install without success. After Windows XP Pro, I added NSW 2004, SpySweeper 3 and Office 2003 alone with ALL the Windows Updates up to date. The problem is that once I completed this, I opened a Windows Explorer window, try to right click on Drive C: and BUM, error again !!!

It seems to be a virus of some kind or adware hocked to the explorer.exe file.

Any other ideeas about what is causing this annoying behavior? could it be SP2?, it started until 2-3 weeks back.



Author Comment

ID: 11524324
JMP - like I said above... I never really found out WHY this happened, just what to do to get around it. If anyone can figure out what causes the problem in the first place, maybe you could post so we can all avoid whatever it is we are doing...

JMP - if you create a new Windows administrator account (like this article suggests) and your problem persists, then this article is not the answer you are looking for. Maybe you should post a question (note that this question is closed), and then if you get an answer that works, post a reply here as a related issue.

By NSW, I assume you mean Norton System Works? You need to use NSW carefully... used incorrectly, it can damage your system, deleting required files and registry entries. Also, I would recommend using Lavasoft's AdAware (www.lavasoft.com) and Patrick Kolla's Spybot Search and Destroy (www.spybot.info) in lieu of SpySweeper.

Expert Comment

ID: 11525540
Ok Thanks, you are right, I have tried with the solutions in here but the problem persists.  I'll try posting a new issue.


Expert Comment

ID: 12582425
I had a similar problem... explorer would crash when I right clicked on a file giving me a '.... memory could not be "written"  .' I noticed that this happed after I installed my video codecs (Dr Divx bundle, Xvid, and Ligos Indeo).  I assumed that one of those added something to my context menu (the right click menu).  I ran ContextEdit, Version 1.2 a old pcmag utility and the Dr Divx added a context menu that would crash explorer.  I disabled it any was able to go about my merry way. Unfortunately PCmag has moved to a pay per download or subscription download basis... the single file would cost $5.97 subcriptions more.  The file name for the download is cnxtedit.zip and was written by Gregory A. Wolking if you want to look around for it.  There might be something else out there that could help and wouldn't charge.

Expert Comment

ID: 13376123
This remains an ongoing issue with my 2K partitions-- SP4 hasn't addressed it.--and I've seen it somewhat more infrequently with XP SP1 & 2.

Sometimes, as suggested above, reinstalling IE Explorer will clean up some of MS Explorer's problems as they're highly interrelated in terms of system resources and routines.  But ultimately I think the problem lies with poorly constructed OS's and unprotected Kernals--read ALL-- MS Windows from Win2.1 to WinXP pro.  

Long filenames will do it, or filenames with strange characters,  but the main culprit seems to be with media files--jps's, mpg's...  Another issue is that CD & DVD drives are cobbled onto an IDE interface or worse a USB or 1394 interface-- and when the media itself is problematic it can often result in system deadlock--the timeout's for those devices is far slower than the hardisks for which the  IDE was conceived.

And yeah, I'm sure corrupted Registry values, or dynamic link libraries, or registered classes.... can contribute to the mix.

Often when my desktop disappears--as some instantiation of  "explorer.exe"** hangs, I can go into device manager--delete the offending "explorer.exe" PID and then use an application  like "Diskdata" to scan a partition and when it's done scanning I explore one of the folders.  That brings the whole shebang back.   When it's DVD ROM drive related nothing will do but a reboot.

**and we ARE talking MS Explorer here NOT IE Explorer.

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