"Windows Explorer has stopped working" Pop-up and will not boot

I leave my computer on all the time, when I went to use my vista desktop computer yesterday with RAID 1, there was a Norton Pop-up on my screen stating, “Large amount of outbound data or traffic or something like that.)
At this point, I thought I would scan for viruses, and also thought I should update Norton's virus definitions first. After updating Norton's virus definitions, Norton wanted to reboot, I agree to the reboot, and when the computer started back up, that when it displayed a black screen with a working cursor and a popup that stated, “Windows Explorer has stopped working”

Here is a list of what I did next:

1.      I tried rebooting again and received the same error message, along with some other pop-up windows that said my dictionary was loaded, but this time I did a Ctrl+Alt+Del  which would also allow me to go to the task manager.  Once in Task manager, I went to new task and type CMD and type SFC/scannow. SFC found one file that needed to be replaced and successfully replaced. Once I rebooted I could see the windows vista welcome screen which I couldn’t see before.

2.      I rebooted again and use the F8 key and selected “Last known good configuration” which did not start; instead it started CHKDSK instead of “Last known good configuration." As it was running CHKDSK, it found a few issues, and then it froze. I had to do a power off to reboot.

3.      I did run CHKDSK again, and it found “The volume Bitmap is incorrect and windows also found problems with the files system. I also run CHKDSK again with /f, and I believe that is also set.

4.      This time I rebooted into safe mode, but safe mode wouldn’t work it just was a black screen with the word safe in each corner (I know that is normal) and a pop-up that said, “Windows Explorer has stopped working." At this point, I had to do another Power Off to reboot because nothing worked.

5.      I also went back to CMD and run Explorer.exe, and that didn’t work.

6.      I would also like to scan for viruses with Norton but can’t get back into Norton's window to run a scan.

If you have any ideas on what my next few steps should be I would really appreciate your help!

I don’t want to do in-place vista windows re-install, only as a last resort.

This is a good learning project for me on how to troubleshoot Windows start-up problems.

Thanks for any help you may provide.
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Test your RAM using memtest 86+, and the HD's using the manufacturer's diagnostic tools. You'll find those on the UBCD:


If a RAM module or disk is found to be bad, replace it or them.

If the hardware is fine, run a chkdsk /f /r again on all drive letters. Also, if you are using mainboard built-in fake RAID, don't use that. It is highly unreliable. If you want to use RAID 1, use your OS's built-in RAID. That is far more reliable and performs better. FakeRAID is nothing but crap and a marketing gimmick. Real hardware RAID controllers are better, but OS RAID 1 still beats those in most cases, and it is much cheaper, as real hardware RAID controllers are very expensive, as are the disks, since you need to use quality enterprise class disks with them.

Also, Never use anything Norton (Symantec). That is crapware from my experience. and not much better than the Viruses it is supposed to stop.

If this is a PC for personal (not business) use, I can fully recommend the free version of Panda Antivirus. It is very good and I have never had any issues with it, and I've used it for about a decade now. If it is for business use, the payed for version is good (licensing doesn't allow the use of the free version for business use). When installing it make sure you only select the AV itself, and not the additional stuff like firewall or toolbars etc. That would apply to all AV tools, not just Panda. A further advantage of Panda when compared to other AV products is that it uses very little resources, so your PC isn't bogged down by it.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Windows Explorer is fundamental to Windows operation and if it won't work you have serious issues. You cannot reinstall Windows Explorer.

You should be able to start from the Windows Vista DVD and select Repair (not Reinstall). If this works, it may repair your computer to a working state without losing software and data.

Back up first, in case the Repair cannot function.
BIDMCAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your help! rindi and John

rindi thanks for the Ultimate Boot CD, I did try the memtest 86+, memory test and it did not find any issues.

John I did try the Windows Vista DVD Startup Repair program and the Startup repair program said could not detect a problem.

I'm wondering if I might have a virus or rootkit. Do you know of a program Anti-Virus  that will run in DOS or CMD prompt?

Do you have any other ideas?

Thanks for all your help.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You can run your own Anti Virus application followed by Malwarebytes.  For Rootkit viruses, look at TDSKiller (Kapsersky) and see if it can remove Rootkits.

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Did you also test the disk using the manufacturer's diagnostic tool?
BIDMCAuthor Commented:
John - I couldn't remember Malwarebytes thanks for that information. I'm now  investigating TDSKiller (Kapsersky)  to see if it can be run from a command prompt.

rindi - I did break the connection between the RAID 1 drives and now running on one disk, this way my other drive will be intact with all my data. I tried to run the HD disk with The Ultimate Boot CD, it started loading a bunch of files than stopped and seem to freeze during the download so I rebooted and will be starting Spinrite shortly to test my Hard Disk Drive.

Thanks everyone for your help!
The diagnostic tools can also be downloaded directly from the manufacturer if it doesn't run properly from the UBCD. I wouldn't use spinrite for this.
what disk model is this?
run the diagnostic for your brand - eg seagate diag for seagate tool
BIDMCAuthor Commented:
The hard drives are Western Digital 2TB drives in a Raid 1 configuration.

I broke the Raid 1 configuration so both drive will be intact with all my data, and I could use one drive for experimenting and the other drive will not be touched.

I did try Data Lifeguard Diagnostics software, and the hard drive passed.

I'm thinking it might be a virus infection or a rootkit to the MBR or some other area of windows. I will be scanning for Virus to night.
>>  I did try Data Lifeguard Diagnostics software, and the hard drive passed.  <<  which diag did you run - short or long? you need to run the long one - or extended as they may call it
BIDMCAuthor Commented:
Sorry everyone for my comment regarding the illegal CD. I had no idea the was an illegal CD.

Nobus - I ran the quick test. I will run the extended test tomorrow. Thanks for your suggestion.
the quick test only tests a very little sector of the disk space, in order to verify the disk commands execute properly
the extended test tests all the space - that's why
BIDMCAuthor Commented:
Thanks John for your help with the Antivirus suggestions.

I have cleaned out my computer and everything is working now.

Thanks again!

BIDMCAuthor Commented:
Good Morning Everyone,

The problem with my computer turned out to be a virus.

I have rewarded the points to John Hurst for his suggestion regarding antivirus program.

I would like to thank everyone for their time and suggestion.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
@BIDMC - Thanks for the update and I was happy to help.
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