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explorer.exe wont load at startup

Posted on 2006-05-09
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Last Modified: 2010-09-22
when i startup my computer the explorer.exe does not start; i cant see my taskbar, startmenu, or desktop. i can open the taskmanager and run things from there though. same thing in safe mode. i have tried sfc /scannow, and i have even repaired XP with the installation CD. and still the same thing.
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Question by:ale700
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LVL 15

Expert Comment

by:venom96737
ID: 16645084
my guess would be the shell has been change for winlogon in the registry.  Try going to HKEY_LOCAL MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\windows NT\winlogon once there check the shell and make sure the data is set to explorer.exe.
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LVL 47

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by:rpggamergirl
ID: 16645228
Is it just the explorer.exe or also the IE won't work?

Look in your registry and see if "explorer.exe is listed in this key and check what the value of the Debugger is.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\explorer.exe
Debugger = c:\badguy.exe


You can try any of these:
http://www.kellys-korner-xp.com/taskbarplus!.htm

Restore taskbar and startmenu:
http://www.kellys-korner-xp.com/regs_edits/nodesktop.reg


Also let us see a hijackthis log, the culprit might show up there.
Please download HijackThis 1.99.1
http://www.cyberanswers.org/forum/uploads/HijackThis1991.exe
Open Hijackthis, click "Do a system scan and save a logfile" don't fix anything yet,
go here and paste your Hijackthis log --> http://www.rafb.net/paste/
then at the bottom left corner click "paste"
Copy the address/url and post it here:

Or copy and paste the log at --> http://www.hijackthis.de/ 
and click "Analyse", click "Save".  Post the link to the saved list here.

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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:FriarTuk
ID: 16645600
can you run explorer.exe from the task mgr, if so does it show your desktop after?  it is probably a virus or spyware issue, boot into safe mode by holding F8 during restart & select safe mode, then run a full system scan from a virus scanner as well as a spyware scanner.
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LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:mrenos
ID: 16646494
I would tell you what venom96737 sayed but the most importand is why this happent.
My suggestion is to scan your computer for viruses and spyware stuf.
Because if it happent once, it will hapent again.

Hope this helps..
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Expert Comment

by:Merete
ID: 16646843
If you can get back to safemode try using  safemode with networking.

As it is happening in safemode as well, maybe your first option is to choose from the advanced options screen NOT safemode but last known good config that worked.

Wait one question?
Do have xpsp2 onboard and if so is the xpcd you have the one installed with xpsp2?
If had a separate upgrade you can uninstall xpsp2 from add remove programs.
Maybe a bit hard to navigate to it though.

The other option is to boot from xpcd.
press any key  then choose R for recovery.
wait. once it gets to which windows use the cmd prompt here
type in chkdsk /r press enter
let it scan and fix any errors.
once its done take out the xpcd type in exit and windows will reboot.
Change your boot order back to HDO first  asap accidental instals can happen if you leave the xpcd in.
Then scan your computer for malware.

Good Luck
Merete


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Expert Comment

by:Merete
ID: 16646932
A virus called F-Nimda can cause this.
The SHELLFIX.REG file is used to fix Explorer startup problems
resulted from unconditional termination of F-Nimda tool during
its operation.

If F-Nimda tool is terminated by a user or operating system while
it is scanning a hard disk, there will be no icons and no taskbar
on Windows desktop. To fix the problem you will have to run the
SHELLFIX.REG file.

You can execute this file on an affected NT-based systems
(Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP) from Task Manager.
Please follow these instructions:

1. Press CTRL-ALT-DEL

2. Select 'Task Manager'

3. Select 'File' menu

4. Select 'New Task'

5. In the opened dialog window input the path to the SHELLFIX.REG
file, for example if the file is on a diskette, input
'A:\SHELLFIX.REG' (without quotes) and press 'Enter'

6. Windows will ask you if you want to add information from the
REG file to the Registry, answer 'Yes'

7. Restart your system and the problem will be solved.

Download the fix...
as they small you maybe able to use another computer and add them to a floppy then using run> browse to the floppy and click on the reg fix.

ftp://ftp.f-secure.com/anti-virus/tools/shellfix.reg save and run
otherwise unzip this and use the same method.
ftp://ftp.f-secure.com/anti-virus/tools/shellfix.zip save and unzip to its own folder and run

Good Luck.
Merete
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Author Comment

by:ale700
ID: 16695575
ok, so ive, repaired windows, whch took 2 days because i had to find my reg key. explorer is in the shell in winlogon in the registry. the kellys corner didnt work, im pretty sure all it did was try to add explorer.exe to shell. i have no viruses that i can tell that would do this. im fact im pretty sure this came about as a result of the removal of a virus, but that doesnt really matter right now. now im trying to reinstall iexplorer b/c i dont see it on my computer.
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Expert Comment

by:Merete
ID: 16695993
Hi is that internet explorer not explorer you are trying to re-install.
For future if you need to find your reg key use magic jelly ben.
The Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder is a freeware utility that retrieves your Product Key (cd key) used to install windows from your registry.
http://www.magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder.shtml

To re-install internet explorer6
Insert the Windows XP CD in your CD drive.

Open Start / Run and type: rundll32.exe setupapi,InstallHinfSection DefaultInstall 132 c:\windows\inf\ie.inf << exactly as is in one long entry
( Just copy/paste the above entry)

press enter.

You can also use the I386 folder from the CD, just copy it to your HD, but make sure you change the installation path to the new location.

Internet Explorer6 full download
http://www.petri.co.il/download_the_full_ie_package.htm

Alternatively run a scan fopr corrupted files.
at start run type in sfc /scannow press enter you will need you xpcd

AutoPatcher XP May 2006 Update
Size: 225 MB
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Tweak/System-Tweak/AutoPatcher-XP.shtml



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Author Comment

by:ale700
ID: 16696087
nope. i installed ie7 and no difference. i ran sfc again and it found no problems. id try to run another norton antivirus scan, but its giving problems saying it doesnt work in repair. any ideas? again, i log in and i see a flash of the taskbar at the bottom of the screen but then it dissapears and explorer.exe is not in my running tasks, and i cant start it maunally. and it doesnt work in safe mode. im getting desperate
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Expert Comment

by:rpggamergirl
ID: 16696116
In your registry, did you check under the key "Image File Execution Options" if explorer.exe is listed?
If it is listed, delete it.

Some viruses put that entry there with some bad value, that when the bad value is gone explorer.exe can not start, and deleting the explorer.exe under "Image File Execution Options" will fix it.


HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\explorer.exe <-- delete this explorer.exe if found in this registry path.

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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:FriarTuk
ID: 16696126
if you are trying to add internet explorer, then we should assume the repair corrected your system enough that you can boot into windows ok & view your desktop, correct?

IE should be under c:program files\internet explorer, however the icon may just not be on your desktop, to add: right click desktop - click prop's - click desktop tab - click customize desktop - check desktop icons you want shown
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:FriarTuk
ID: 16696145
argggg. you guys were posting while i was still reading.

are you saying you can boot normally, but after boot the taskbar disappears, there is not an explorer.exe in your task list, right?  are you other desktop icons there & can you hit cntl + esc to bring up the start button menus?
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:rpggamergirl
ID: 16696165
are both Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer not working?

can you please check in those registry I mentioned above what is listed under Image File Execution Options?

If both "explorer.exe"  and  "iexplore.exe" are listed?
If so, delete both, delete only under Image File Execution Options do not delete anywhere else.

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Accepted Solution

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Merete earned 1200 total points
ID: 16696306
awe gee, lol can I say those words, look its probably easier to just format.
you say> ok, so ive, repaired windows, whch took 2 days because i had to find my reg key.
Repairing windows will not remove any nasties if you have some still hidden.
If there is so many critical windows components corrupted it seems the best solution is to foramt. delete the partition. You have your xp key now or use magic jelly bean to find it write it down.
If possible download this auto patcher as it has all the patches burn it to a cd before clean install, then while offline ( donot access the internet until you have an anti virus program installed and updated and windows patched with the most urgent) if you go online after a clean install  you put all the work you have just done at risk of a new infection.
2006 auto patcher
OS: Windows XP
 Size: 225 MB
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Tweak/System-Tweak/AutoPatcher-XP.shtml

Clean Install Procedure with Illustrative Screen Captures
http://www.theeldergeek.com/xp_home_install_-_graphic.htm
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Author Comment

by:ale700
ID: 16698478
ok, windows is still not working. i tried IE7 (which i found out doesnt work with norton). so i installed ie6 off the winxp cd. still doesnt work. i might as well do a format and clean install. my computer is almost 3 yrs old, so it had it coming. ill try wat rpggamergirl was suggesting, then if nothing else works, i shall start anew. the weirdest thing is that explorer starts (which indicates that there is nothing wrong with winlogon in the registry), but then immidiately stops, which seems to say "hahahahahahaa, got you".
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:rpggamergirl
ID: 16698846
>>the weirdest thing is that explorer starts (which indicates that there is nothing wrong with winlogon in the registry), <<

Let me explain why I wanted to see what is listed under Image Executions Options, if the virus/trojan added a value in the "debuggers".

Explorer.exe isn't really lost, it just wont load because of the Image File Execution Options-key. This one loads before everything loads, and because Explorer and IE was hooked onto together with the 'debuggers' -- when the 'debuggers' are gone, windows want to load them, but they are not there. So, it wont load Explorer and Iexplore.
So deleting those keys is the solution:
Just try it, you don't lose anything by trying my suggestion.
You can also use this reg file to delete those keys.

Copy and paste the text below(including the line REGEDIT4) into a text editor such as Notepad.
Save this text as Fix.reg. Make sure the "Save as type:" is "All Files (*.*)" and save it to your desktop.
Double-click on Fix.reg. When it asks you to merge the information to the registry click Yes.
Reboot after.

REGEDIT4

[-HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\explorer.exe]

[-HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\iexplore.exe]
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Expert Comment

by:Merete
ID: 16706843
lol ale700
btw I used to have a problem like this, explorer has encountered a problem and need to close, what fixed it for me I upgraded my ram to 1 gig bought a new video card gforce 6600GT new windowsxp pro. and new 380 w power supply Unit. Clean format.
No more explorer problems.

ok as your halfway thinking about formatting we can play for a while and see if we can fix it.
What is the events and id's in control panel administrative tools event viewer>applications.
 try unsinattling Norton temporarily.
Install avg as a safety net till we can figure out what is happening.
Norton has a lot of issues with high cpu usage taking over the computer deciding what is and is not important.
Download Full Internet Explorer 6 SP1 Standalone Installer
http://www.liewcf.com/blog/archives/2005/04/download-full-internet-explorer-6-sp1-standalone-installer/all-comments/

AVG AntiVirus free
http://www.majorgeeks.com/download886.html

ntdll.dll Windows Explorer Problems
http://www.softwaretipsandtricks.com/forum/windows-xp/9366-ntdll-dll-windows-explorer-problems.html

Windows Explorer - Errors
http://www.colba.net/~hlebo49/errexplo.htm

cheers Merete
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Author Comment

by:ale700
ID: 16714750
ok. sorry it took so long to get back to you, but i looked in the registry where you specified (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options) and explorer and iexplorer are not there.  and the probem is that windows does not issue an error. it merely terminates explorer.exe as soon as it starts. there is nothing in the it also seems to stop loading everything else in the startup (there are only 33 items running instead of the usual ~45). im gonna get some software installers together, backup personal data and get ready to reformat.
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

by:Merete
ID: 16714883
sounds like a fun day ahead :) you'll be glad once it's done, use the snapshot to capture your settings.
Good Luck ;)
dont forget to use magic jelly bean to get your liscence key makes like easy.
http://www.magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder.shtml

And these too.
2006 auto patcher
OS: Windows XP
 Size: 225 MB
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Tweak/System-Tweak/AutoPatcher-XP.shtml

for guidance.
Clean Install Procedure with Illustrative Screen Captures
http://www.theeldergeek.com/xp_home_install_-_graphic.htm
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Author Comment

by:ale700
ID: 16714905
and i just tried the DEP option recommended on ST&T (link in merete post above) but to no avail.
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Author Comment

by:ale700
ID: 16714929
snapshot?
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Author Comment

by:ale700
ID: 16714936
and if anyone knows of a wesite that lists places to look for personal files (like my doecuments, or remind me of my firefox extensions etc  etc.) just to help jog my memory. thanx.
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Expert Comment

by:FriarTuk
ID: 16714939
1) windows boots
2) windows hangs
3) the startmenu, taskbar, & desktop icons never show up
4) you can run taskmgr & explorer.exe is missing

In taskmgr, on the appl tab, can you click New Task & run explorer.exe?
If yes, does your start menu, taskbar, & dsktop come up?
Can you also run regedit.exe?
If yes, export your RUN keys from hkcu & hklm, then delete them entirely.

You stated "i have no viruses that i can tell that would do this. im fact im pretty sure this came about as a result of the removal of a virus."

But i have seen a virus that inserts itself so deeply in the registry & replicated many times as different file names, that no matter what you run it will kick off.

If you remove it, it can come back as it is linked to system files upon bootup.  It took me 3 days on/off to manually remove it.  Your best bet is to backup & format.  But I would go one step further & run killdisk on it, to be sure everything is wiped from that drive.  Then during installing you can repartition & format.

http://www.killdisk.com/downloadfree.htm
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Expert Comment

by:Merete
ID: 16715109
snapshot print screen
its very handy
http://www.seoconsultants.com/windows/print-screen/

Just press the PRINT SCREEN key. Next to F12 key..  This will save the snapshot image of whatever is presently on your desktop screen
  Open Paint, which is located by going to Start, All Programs and Accessories.
  Click Edit and then Paste and note  you now see the picture you "snapped" of whole desktop.
  in  the Paint program, go to file and save as. you have the option of viewing, saving, printing or even modifying the image.
  Close the Paint program. Or PSP6

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Author Comment

by:ale700
ID: 16717300
sorry didnt understand (snapshop = printscreen?). i just went through programfiles and copied down the names of any program i had that ill want later. and i took all my music and video and my documents and transferred them to an external drive. good thing i save all my installation discs and keys.
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Expert Comment

by:Merete
ID: 16723287
yep no worries, not everyone uses this, I just find it handy for ip addresses settings, lol even take a snapshot of my start menue all programs so I can remember what programs I had. Same here I save all my installers keys. I format every 6 months cleans out the regestry.
ale700  if you want to back up your emails in one easy swoop, open outlook express tools options go to maintinenece, then the STORE folder
click on the store folder button it will bring up a small panel >> change the location to your external drive create a folder folder for it. Then Apply and ok, it immediately moves the entire lot over to this new location.
When you get your windows back up and running set up outlook express again,  then go to file import message> outlook express6>tick to import messages from  an OE 6 store directory . sweet as all back exactly as was before.

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