We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

Explorer.exe doesn't start

pbhakta asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-03-17
Whenever I login, explorer.exe doesn't start, so my start menu or desktop items don't show up. I can run programs through Task Manager but the only program I can't run is Internet Explorer (iexplore.exe). When I try running explorer.exe through Task Manager the start menu just flashes and disappears again. Everything works fine in Safe Mode though. I tried System Restore and that didn't work. I have tried anti-virus and spyware checks but those didnt come up with anything. Thanks for your help.
Watch Question

JoeWeb Application Developer

Hi pbhakta,

Does this work as another user? Your profile may be corrupted.

If it doesn't work for another user, please run cmd.exe (to bring up a command window).
cd to your win32 directory.

cd %systemroot%
rename explorer.exe explorer.backup
shutdown -r -f -t 00

That will remove explorer, and reboot your machine.
On reboot, windows should see it is missing and replace it with a backed up version.
This may fix your problem.


joe- when I run windows normally i only have 1 user (me) when i run in safe mode i have 2 (administrator and me), I tried running in safe mode as administrator and as me but i had the same problem both times. seems like safe mode is no longer working either.

ill try kelly's solution next.


kelly- it didnt work, after reboot i still have the same problem. a new explorer.exe does show up in windows folder though and old explorer (explorer.backup) is still there.


by the way i have also tried clean booting (msconfig, only check boot.ini) and that didn't work.
You have a WinXP CD no?

Boot from it, agree to the terms.
Don't ener the recover console, that is the first time it asks you to hit r to repair, ignore that and continue.
Next it will search for windows installations and then will have an entry liek this.

1. c:\Windows

One of the options at this screen will be repair, take that option and let it copy over new files.
It will not format your hard drive, but it will whipe your registry and replace the system files to look like a brand new install.

Windows will work then, allowing you to still have your programs and user files.

You may have some corrupt system files that can be replaced by sfcscannow.
Note: If you run the Windows File Checker utility (SFC) with the /SCANNOW switch (sfc /scannow) after you install Windows 2000 hotfixes or security updates, updated or patched files that were installed may later be overwritten by previous versions of those files. So, you may have to download some patches after running this command.


I tried performing the repair with the XP CD that came with my computer from HP/Compaq but when it gets to the windows xp setup screen it works for a while then it gives me an error:

Copy Error
Setup cannot copy the file migregdb.ex_

I can either choose Retry or Cancel

At the bottom I can Browse for the file.

If I click Browse, it takes me to D:/i386, and the file is right there. I choose it and push retry and I get the same error. Retry just keeps bringing up the same error. If I click cancel it says something like do you want to continue setup without this file. If I push yes, I get another Copy Error with a different filename and it keeps going on and on. If I push no, it seems to continue to install then my computer restarts. I put in my power-on (BIOS) password and then it fails to start Windows. My computer automatically restarts and asks me for my BIOS password again, this time it takes me to a screen, windows did not start properly last time, I can choose a bunch of options safe mode, last known good configuration, etc.. Selecting safe mode and last known good configuration dont work. It just restarts again and asks me for my BIOS password. I have tried re-repairing with the XP CD 3 times.

Thank you for your help.
Sounds like a hosed CD to me.


Hosed CD?


I looked on Google and found that people had similar problems with repairing XP. I dont think the CD is a problem as I just opened it from its original packaging yesterday.

Please let me know

Thanks for your help.
Top Expert 2007

Let's check if something comes up in your hiajckthis log.

Please download HijackThis 1.99.1
Open Hijackthis, click "Do a system scan and save a logfile" don't fix anything yet.

Then upload the logs to any hosting sites,
or go to the below link and login using your Experts-Exchange username and password.
Click on "Expert Area" tab
type or paste the link to your Question
"Browse" your pc to the location of your Hijackthis log and click "Upload"
Copy the resulting "url" and post it back here.

OR: paste the log to either of these sites:
1. http://www.rafb.net/paste/
then at the bottom left corner click "paste"
Copy the address/url and post it here.

Also run regedit and check this key in the registry
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options
under "Image File Execution Options" key, check if explorer.exe and iexplore.exe are listed there.


How should I run HijackThis if Windows will not even boot up (see previous posts)? After I tried the XP Repair, Windows is failing to boot. I can turn on the computer through DSL Linux and also I can access the command prompt through the Recovery Console.

Thank you.
Top Expert 2007

>>so my start menu or desktop items don't show up. I can run programs through Task Manager but the only program I can't run is Internet Explorer <<

Check the TITLE of your question.
You said on your title you can run task manager, and you can run programs except IE.
explorer.exe <-- are you saying this runs via task manager?
He is saying, he used to NOT be able to get explorer.exe to start, then following our advice attempted a repair.
Now windows wont boot.

Answer you seek: wipe it and start over
Top Expert 2007

Ooops! my bad for not reading the thread, sorry lol.
I would expect that at this point the machine is beyond normal repair.
If you have partitioning software or can install a second hard drive into the machine to install a new OS onto, then youll have to just format and start over.

I have had to do that many times, and although it is a pain, its for the best.

Not the solution you were looking for? Getting a personalized solution is easy.

Ask the Experts
Access more of Experts Exchange with a free account
Thanks for using Experts Exchange.

Create a free account to continue.

Limited access with a free account allows you to:

  • View three pieces of content (articles, solutions, posts, and videos)
  • Ask the experts questions (counted toward content limit)
  • Customize your dashboard and profile

*This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Please enter a first name

Please enter a last name

8+ characters (letters, numbers, and a symbol)

By clicking, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.