SVCHOST.EXE error when opening "My Computer"

One of our users has had an error message show up lately on his laptop running WinXP Pro.  The error message says...

svchost.exe - Application Error
The instruction at "0x00a296bc" referenced memory at "0x00000000". The memory could not be "written".
OK to terminate
CANCEL to debug

The entry in the Event Viewer says...

Event Type:      Error
Event Source:      Application Error
Event Category:      (100)
Event ID:      1000
Date:            3/27/2007
Time:            1:32:29 PM
User:            N/A
Computer:      TIMLAPTOP
Faulting application svchost.exe, version 5.1.2600.2180, faulting module unknown, version, fault address 0x00a296bc.

For more information, see Help and Support Center at
0000: 41 70 70 6c 69 63 61 74   Applicat
0008: 69 6f 6e 20 46 61 69 6c   ion Fail
0010: 75 72 65 20 20 73 76 63   ure  svc
0018: 68 6f 73 74 2e 65 78 65   host.exe
0020: 20 35 2e 31 2e 32 36 30    5.1.260
0028: 30 2e 32 31 38 30 20 69   0.2180 i
0030: 6e 20 75 6e 6b 6e 6f 77   n unknow
0038: 6e 20 30 2e 30 2e 30 2e   n 0.0.0.
0040: 30 20 61 74 20 6f 66 66   0 at off
0048: 73 65 74 20 30 30 61 32   set 00a2
0050: 39 36 62 63               96bc    

It happens at various times, but I can faithfully recreate the error every time I open "My Computer".  Everytime I open "My Compter", the flashlight waves back and forth searching for drives for about 10 seconds.  Then the error message pops up and eventually all the drives show up.  

When watching Task Manager, there is a new svchost.exe process that appears when I try to open "My Computer".  Once the error message appears and I click OK to terminate the program, it disappears.

Any idea on how to narrow down what is causing the problem or how to fix it? Thanks.

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The crash maybe caused by faulty ram, virus of software error. Run memtest and if no errors is reported . The problem maybe related to virus. Run AV and Spyware to make sure your windows is clean,  If your windows still crashes, the problem may be related to software error.  If you search google, there has a lot of hits relating error at SVCHOST. You do not know which one can fix your problem. You have to analyse DrWaston log to find out the culprit.

Whenever an error occurs in a program, the error is handled by the program's error handler. If by any chance an error occurs and is not handled by the program, then Windows passes on this error handling to the windows default error handler i.e. DrWatson. The Dr Watson error debugger will write a log file Drwatson.log about the program that caused the error and other details about the error scenario which will include the task list of all the programs that were running at that time. You can open the Drwatson.log file to find out what program or service has caused this error.

Attach the following files at any webspace. I will study your log and dumps.
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\DrWatson\user.dmp
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\DrWatson\drwtsn32.log (XP)

Upload Minidumps to EE "Expert Area"
. Login using your Experts-Exchange username and password.
. Click on "Expert Area" tab
. Type url link of your Question
. "Browse" your pc to the location of your Minidumps click "Upload"
. Copy the resulting "url" and post it back here.

DrWatson is acculumated. If you have a huge DrWatson log (ie file size more than 2MB). Your windows has potential problem.  If the DrWatson log is more than 1MB, cut and paste the last 3 system crashes and upload the dump.  Rename DrWatson log to another name. When windows crashes, it writes a new DrWatson log.
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bruno71Author Commented:
I think we've got it!

Michko - I had already tried your solution.  Auto Updates was already turned off.  And the error I was getting was more generic.

cpc2004 - Thanks for pointing me to the Dr Watson log file.  This will come in handy in the future.  Unfortunately, it didn't help with this issue.

Calmar46 - Congratulations!  I've found a new favorite tool.  The Process Explorer app gave me more details on the source of the problem.  It had something to do with the Windows Image Acquisition service.  I disabled that service and haven't had any problems yet.  Thanks for your help.

Good onya! Guess that's why Microsoft bought Sysinternals.
Thanks for the points.
May I add that I also had the same symptoms and using the suggestion in this forum and the suggestion by Calmar46 to use the 'Process Explorer' I also found the Windows Image Acquisition service (which according to the Windows XP Administrative Tool is used for Cameras and Scanners) as 'at fault' but rather than disabling it I uninstalled the HP (Heap of Poo) Printer and Scanner software and the problem was resolved.  What HP Scanner software has to do with opening My Computer I have no idea, but by removing it, the problem was resolved none the less!  

Thank you Calmar46
bruno71Author Commented:
I found the same culprit.  The user had an all-in-one HP at home.  At home, it worked fine.  But when he was not connected to his home network, the HP software searched and searched and searched for the printer/scanner.  
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