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Windows will not start, 'Explorer has performed an illegal operation' on startup.

I was recently uninstalling some unwanted software from my system (Kazaa and Sidefind) when the system crashed. When I rebooted I was presented with the Windows 98 installation screens asking for registration code and such (I assume the registry may have been damaged). I proceeded with the setup and had to reboot again. Now whenever I start the computer, Windows attempts to run, I get a login window for Microsoft networking, then I get an error pop up saying 'Explorer has performed an illegal operation' and can get no further. Most of the data on the hard drive is not backed up so I can't just reformat. Any suggestions on how I could salvage my dying computer?
2 Solutions
you could slap that hard drive in another computer to recover the data.  Then format that computer.  OR.  and if you do this you must be very comfortable with dos and careful.  You could del tree your windows directory and reinstall windows.  Before doing this, you would need to copy the data that might be on the desktop or in my documents to the root of the c drive.  I would go with the first option and use the 2nd for emergency only.
Try starting up in "Safe Mode".

Keep jabbing the F8 key fairly soon after pressing the Power On button.  It should reach a menu of "Boot Options".
You should see several options, and one of them will be "Safe Mode".
Arrow down to it, and press <Enter>.
It can take a while to start up into Safe Mode.

If you can get into Safe Mode, go to MSCONFIG's "Startup" tab and uncheck everything except  SystemTray.

(Start menu > "Run" option > and type MSCONFIG > then click "OK")

It would also be interesting to know what Startup entries were listed.

Personally, I would first try and reinstall Windows on top of itself after booting to a Win98 Boot Floppy with CD-Rom Support.  Install to WINDOWS rather than any other folder it might offer, eg. WINDOWS.000.

The object isn't to create a parallel functional installation, it is an attempt to restore missing files, or overwrite corrup files and registry settings.

Most of your program settings remain untouched this way, but you would have to reinstall programs like Office 2000 and upwards, Internet Explorer 5.5 and upwards, and any Windows or MS Office patches or updates.

Remember, experts, the emphasis here is on:

>>> "Most of the data on the hard drive is not backed up so I can't just reformat". <<<

Steven.  Your member profile gives no hint of your level of expertise, so please excuse me if I sound patronising.

Do you understand what njxbean meant by >>> "slap that hard drive in another computer to recover the data"? <<<

To elaborate, you would have to do, if you have access to another computer, is this:
(While the computer is powered off)

1. Open the case and remove the connected wires from the rear of you hard drive.
2. Remove the screws and carefully slide the hard drive out of the bay.
3. Change the small plastic jumper on the back so that it is set to "Slave" rather than "Master".
4. Find a secure platform to raise the drive right up close to the other computer.
5. Locate the flat ribbon cable that comes from the motherboard and plugs into the back of that computer's hard drive.  Hopefully it will have a 2nd connector half way down it, because the end one is normally connected to the "Master" hard drive.
6. Carefully pull that cable out towards the hard drive from your computer and plug the connector into it.  ** Take great care to ensure you plug it in the right way up.  There should be one missing pin that matches up with a blanked-off section of the connector **
7. Locate a spare power supply plug of the type that goes into the existing hard drive and CD drive, and plug it into your hard drive.
8. Power up and see if this 2nd hard drive is recognised and is accessible in Windows Explorer.  If Not, then shut down properly and let us know, because you might have to access the CMOS Setup Screen early in the boot process and tell it to "autodetect" the drive.

All things going well, you should be able to see your data on this 2nd Drive, and can copy it to a separate folder on that computer's hard drive.  Optionally, you could also burn it all to a CD as well to give you a backup.

If you were then prepared to disconnect your drive, reset it to master, and connect it back into YOUR computer, you could then boot to a Win98 boot floppy with CD-Rom Support and either try the "Dirty Install" I mentioned above, or just FORMAT the drive and reinstall Windows from scratch.

To recover your data from the backup, just do the same procedure and copy it back.

Do you know where to locate all your configuration settings and program data to back it all up?

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Try first:

Boot up hit F8 repeatedly until you get a black an white screen.
Choose dos mode
Put a floppy in the slot
go to Windows/command
type copy scanreg.exe a:
go to the a:
type scanreg /restore
choose a date for the registry when the system worked
Hi Steven,
are you running Internet Explorer 6? I had a similiar problem and it turned out that IE6 was the problem. I had to go back to IE5.5
You will need to boot into safe mode to do this


steven_griceAuthor Commented:
I tried starting up in Safe Mode but this had the same result as a normal boot so nothing useful could be achieved.

I also tried the so called 'dirty install' of Windows and this attempted to reformat the drive (perhaps I did something wrong) so that was no help.

Finally, I tried Joe's scanreg suggestion and for only a few minutes work I was back up in no time (if only I had tried it first...)So, many thanks to Joe for solving my problem.

I would also like to thank BillDL for the help with copying to another HD as I am buying a new larger drive and can use this advice for copying from old to new.

Cheers, Steve.

You are very welcome. I have been on this site since 1999 and just love helping people. I also have learned so much by reading other's comments comments and the URl they have posted.

You're welcome, Steve.  Hope everything goes to plan.  If not, then you know where to ask :-)

I am happy that we helped you. This is a wonderful site.

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