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Unable to open .exe files

Posted on 2015-01-31
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Last Modified: 2015-02-07
Hi,

I am unable to open .exe files. Every time I attempt to do so, I receive the following error message: "The service cannot be started, either because it is disabled or because it has no enabled devices associated with it."

I've run full virus scans with Malwarebytes Pro and with MSE, and nothing has been detected.

I have Windows 7, 64-bit.

Any guidance on how to fix this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Question by:tomore
11 Comments
 
LVL 20

Expert Comment

by:strivoli
ID: 40581624
Are you able to "open" a simple EXE file such as notepad.exe?
If yes, which is the EXE file you cannot "open"?
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LVL 63

Expert Comment

by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 40581626
If you are certain the machine is clean

Boot into safe mode

Open Windows Services  (hit run, and enter services.msc)

Set the startup type for "Application Information" to Automatic
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Author Comment

by:tomore
ID: 40581643
Thanks for the quick replies. These are third-party apps that I can't open - i.e. apps from download.com and Adobe updates. Notepad.exe works fine.
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Author Comment

by:tomore
ID: 40581645
By the way, I haven't booted in safe mode yet, but I did hit "run" and then typed "services.msc" and also received the exact same error message as above. So, the problem apparently goes beyond exe files.
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LVL 20

Accepted Solution

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strivoli earned 2000 total points
ID: 40581691
Your system might be clean but a probable previous issue (a virus infection?) might have corrupted system files need to render the OS functional. Your only chance might be to restore a previous system state or start from scratch.
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Author Comment

by:tomore
ID: 40581701
Ugh - thanks. What's the process for starting from scratch?
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Author Comment

by:tomore
ID: 40581721
PS - I back up my files regularly, but haven't created any system restore points that I'm aware of (unless Malwarebytes Pro or MSE - which are always running - do those for me, which I doubt). Thx.
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:VB ITS
ID: 40582064
Windows Updates generally creates restore points before installing update so you should be able to use those restore points.

Click on Start then type in System Restore in the search box, select System Restore from the list then go through the wizard.

Pick a restore point when the issue didn't exist and away you go.
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LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:web_tracker
ID: 40582132
I would use rkill, to restore your exe apps, or to restore apps that don't open properly. Rkill can be safely downloaded from the Bleeping Computer website. There are different flavors of this application. For example if you can not run exe applications you will download and run a rkill.com file, if you can not run an .com file then download and run a rkill.exe file. Another program I used to fix this problem is called FixExec, it can be downloaded from  http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/fixexec/
 FixExec is a program that is designed to fix executable file associations for the .bat, .exe, and .com file extensions. I would rename the extension scr which is a screen saver app. this will fool the malware thinking that this is not an application, when it is run and will fix the file associations for the apps that have a .bat , .exe, or .com extension.
Once you have your file associations fixed you need to scan and find the malware that messed up your system in the first place. I would start with malwarebytes.
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LVL 93

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 40582199
did you try this fixit yet ?   http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2688326
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Author Comment

by:tomore
ID: 40582659
Thank you, everyone. Unfortunately, I'm off to the airport for a work trip and will return Friday night. I'll circle back then after I've tried these next steps. Thank you again.
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