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Flashing icons, Windows Explorer stopping, dllhost.exe *32 high cpu usage

Posted on 2014-04-14
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Last Modified: 2014-04-23
Windows 7 Home Premium
Trend Micro Titanium AV

Most noticeable symptom is that the desktop icons & task bar started flashing on and off every 5 seconds or so.  You can run other programs when that starts but you cannot run any Windows items like control panel, file explorer etc.  You can run Outlook, Chrome and others.  

It does not happen in safe mode.  It does not happen for about 10 minutes after the computer boots.  Did determine that it does happen right after "Windows Explorer has stopped working" message.  Also noticed that dllhost.exe *32 process goes really high when this is happening too -- 100,000+.  

Ran sfc /scannow.  Still happens.
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Question by:ComputerMunkey
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Tony Giangreco earned 500 total points
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It sounds like your Pc is infected.

Here is a comprehensive list of items I would check based on your situation.

Hope it helps!

1. Install Process Explorer to find out what runs at startup
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653

2. If you haven't also ready checked for Viruses, update your virus definitions and run a Full Scan, deleting all virus and spyware detected

3. Download and run these free anti spyware apps
AdwCleaner
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/adwcleaner/

Kaspersky TDSSKiller
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/tdsskiller/

ESET online scanner
http://www.eset.com/us/online-scanner/

Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/malwarebytes-anti-rootkit/

www.malwarebytes.org
www.superantispyware.com
www.hitmanpro.com

4. If you don’t have any Anti Virus installed, here are a few free ones to try:
http://www.avg.com
http://www.avast.com/en-us/index
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security-essentials-download
http://www.bitdefender.com/solutions/free.html

If you are using Google Chrome and have the Conduit Search End and want to get red of it, here is how to do it.

1. Run this process to cleanup hidden adware
http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-Conduit-Search-on-Google-Chrome

2. Make sure is completely removed
http://malwaretips.com/blogs/remove-conduit-search-virus/

Check System Logs:
Go to All programs, Administrative Tools, Event Viewer. Check the System and Application sections for errors that may be causing your problems.

Check for corrupt system files:
Open an elevated command prompt and run this to check for corrupted system files.
sfc /scannow

Run a Disk Cleanup
Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Cleanup.
Include Temporary Internet Files and Temp files

Check for Disk Errors
Run Error Checking: Start, Computer, right click  on C:\, Tools, Error Checking.
Select "Automatically fix file system errors" and click start

Check for all programs that start at Boot using Msconfig
Start, Run, type MSCONFIG, on the startup tab, review the programs listed. Uncheck anything that should not run on startup
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by:Tony Giangreco
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If your system is so badly infected that none of those solutions work, then I suggest backing up your data and performing a clean Windows install.
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Expert Comment

by:Rob Miners
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Also try another Keyboard.
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by:Tony Giangreco
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Have you made any progress?
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by:ComputerMunkey
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It isn't my computer it is a customer's and I won't be working on it until later this afternoon.  Just wanted to see feedback on these particular symptoms because I did consider malware, but I see a lot of those and this just didn't quite seem like it.  dllhost.exe is in the correct location - syswow64.  

Thank you for the responses.
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Expert Comment

by:Rob Miners
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Have you made any further progress?
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Author Closing Comment

by:ComputerMunkey
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It did, in fact end up being malware.  Answer included much of my typical malware removal steps, but it didn't feel like malware to me at first, so this helped me go in the right direction.
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by:Rob Miners
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Thanks for the feed back and good to see that you're up and running. :)
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