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Windows explorer will not load

Posted on 2011-03-15
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hey all.  One of our workstations totally crapped out after the last round of updates from Microsoft.  It's running 7 Pro (32 bit).  Two of the updates failed to install, and ever since the computer rebooted immediately after the update failure, explorer.exe is having major problems.

The two updates that failed to install were SP1 (KB976932) and a DirectWrite API update (KB2505438)

At first, explorer.exe would go into a crash/restart loop immediately upon loading Windows.  I tried all the usual suspects (clean boot, disabling all explorer add-ins, safe mode, etc.) but nothing worked.  In safe mode, explorer.exe wouldn't load at all, even if I started the task manager and tried to create the task manually.  I've tried logging on with different users, but the behavior is the same no matter who logs on, admin or otherwise.

I also ran a CHKDSK, which found several bad sectors, but it said that it recovered all of them successfully.

The current behavior when Windows boots normally is the same as the previous safe mode behavior: explorer.exe doesn't run at startup, and will not run even if I manually start the task.  When I try to manually run explorer.exe, another task, Windows Error Reporting, starts right along with it, and then they both shut down after about 2 seconds.

I can manually start any task other than explorer.  I can even start iexplore.exe, then type C:\ in the address bar and an explorer window pops open so that I can browse the computer.  I've manually started Outlook, our accounting software, and other applications.

Nothing is actually stored on our workstations, so a complete format and reinstall would not be catastrophic, but I'd like to save that for a last resort.  Any new ideas or insights as to how I might fix this would be much appreciated.  Thanks!
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Question by:hrdf-pipkin
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7 Comments
 
LVL 4

Assisted Solution

by:LeDaouk
LeDaouk earned 261 total points
ID: 35137817
try to check the event viewer
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LVL 7

Assisted Solution

by:harryhelp
harryhelp earned 264 total points
ID: 35137874
I have seen this before and it was down to a spyware issue. It seemed that the best solution to this was to format and reinstall.

Maybe you can try a Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware scan:
www.malwarebytes.org
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LVL 3

Accepted Solution

by:
MattyW earned 261 total points
ID: 35137955
"eventvwr" is the command to launch event viewer. If a drive starts getting bad sectors it's usually on its way out. I would play it safe and replace the drive. Even if you ran a repair from the Windows 7 CD or do a "SFC /scannow" to repair system files... it will most likely just continue to get Bad Sectors and fail again.
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LVL 11

Expert Comment

by:remixedcat
ID: 35138113
having any issues with loading the MMC snap-ins? if not do presented above.

Please re-run windows update again to see if it will resolve. If not, please reformat.
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Author Comment

by:hrdf-pipkin
ID: 35138138
The computer is barely three months old, so if the drive is on its way out, then I'll have to complain to our provider about that.  I did take a look at the event viewer, but it was not very helpful, since there were approximately a million and six errors.  However, I did look at the services MMC and noticed that most of the services were not running, even though I had set the msconfig console to load all services at startup.  I was able to manually start all of them except for Diagnostic Service Host.  The start button is disabled on that one.  I then went back into the event viewer and found the most recent restart, and sure enough, that is the first service to fail to load.  I'm wondering why it won't let me start it manually, though?

One other odd thing: When I go into Control Panel -> Programs and Features, and click on Installed Updates, the list won't populate and it tells me that no updates are installed on the computer.  When I try to have Windows Update search for updates, it runs endlessly.  Do these symptoms help clear anything up, or am I still looking at replacing the drive and doing a reinstall?
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LVL 11

Assisted Solution

by:remixedcat
remixedcat earned 264 total points
ID: 35138196
Please reinstall windows. I think something really bad happened.
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Author Closing Comment

by:hrdf-pipkin
ID: 35138520
Reinstall it is, then.  Thanks for the suggestions, all. 87.5 Internets for everyone.
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