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Solved: Explorer.exe crashes (turns on and off) on startup

Posted by Elon B. on January 2, 2009

I’ve just spent 4 frustrating days after Xmas, trying to resolve this problem on my laptop.
Basically, I can start my laptop and get to the XP Logon prompt and login as normal. On some occasions explorer.exe would start and I would see my taskbar appear at the bottom of the screen, attempt to load its start-up programs, but then it would just disappear and try to restart again. This restarting or explorer.exe may occur a few times, or just fail to restart altogether, leaving me staring at my desktops wallpaper.

On other occasions, after login, I would just be faced with my desktops wallpaper and explorer.exe won’t even start. On those occasions by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL, choosing the Task Manager, then selecting the “Processing Tab”, then File | New Task (Run…), from the menu bar allowed me to launch explorer.exe.

Windows Task Manager - New Task (Run...)

Windows Task Manager - New Task (Run...)

 

Task Manager _ New Task _ explorer.exe

Task Manager _ New Task _ explorer.exe

 In the past this worked fine, but last week it just failed to start at all.

 OK, so what did I do to solve this, without having to re-install Windows XP Pro.

It’s useful to know you can run any program from the Task Manager by using the “New Task (Run…)” option showed above. The explorer problem did not stop me from running other applications.

 I started to do all the normal checks, to eliminate the problem

  1. Re-Boot and go into Safe Mode. The problem still occurred.
  2. Ran Chkdsk. [ Run “cmd” from Task Manager to get a DOS Window]. The problem still occurred.
  3. Ran sfc /scannow.  I needed a Windows XP CD, which I slipstreamed with XP SP3, to match what was running on my laptop. Luckily, I had my own XP CD, and downloaded SP3 from Microsoft’s website. Alas, to no avail, the explorer problem still occurred.
  4. Now that I had created a Bootable Windows XP CD with SP3, I tried to run a repair of Windows XP. For some reason, I could not get this to work as XP didn’t recognise my hard drive, so the repair (“R” option) did not work. I did not fancy mucking amount with the Bios to try and fix this problem, so had to try something else.

So after my initial efforts, I had to rule out if I had any malware/viruses on my machine. I ran Internet Explorer, by running “iexplore” from Task Manager, then accessed two free online virus scanning sites, (Trend Micro Housecall and F-secure), that I used to remove some malware/viruses that my existing Anti-virus software had not eliminated.  After rebooting the problem still occurred.

Next I ran the Event Viewer, via Task Manager, (run “Eventvwr.msc”), to see if I could identify anything obvious that could be causing the problem. Though there were a few issues identified in the logs, some of which I tried to resolve, this ultimately did not eliminate the explorer.exe problem.

I also ran “msconfig” from Task manager and stopped all unnecessary applications from running at start-up from the “Startup” Tab. You could also attempt a System Restore from this application. Unfortunately, I had no restore points that could help solve my problem.

I also attempted to clean my registry using the following free registry cleaner, ERUNT. The problem with explorer.exe still occurred.

Solution.

Having exhausted myself over three days by following the usual corrective measures, plus browsing Google for clues, I came across the following Windows Debugging Tool. I installed this on my laptop, remember I could still access the internet, and set about running it against explorer.exe.

I had to set up the “Symbol File Path”, location,

Select "Symbol File Path"

Select "Symbol File Path"

which I set to “SRV*c:\SymbolPath*http://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols” after creating an empty “C:\SymbolPath” folder directory on my laptop [See Tip Below].

Windows Debugger _ Symbol Path via Web

Windows Debugger _ Symbol Path via Web

I then had to run the Explorer.exe executable.

Windows Debugger _ Open Executable

Windows Debugger _ Open Executable

This was located in my “Windows” folder

Windows Debugger _ Open Explorer.exe

Windows Debugger _ Open Explorer.exe

When it ran it through it came up with the following errors. Note, you need to press F5 each time it stops, until nothing else happens. This is reflected by the different coloured sections. 

Microsoft (R) Windows Debugger Version 6.10.0003.233 X86Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
CommandLine: C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe
Symbol search path is: SRV*c:\SymbolPath*http://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols;C:\SymbolPath
Executable search path is:
ModLoad: 01000000 010ff000   explorer.exe
ModLoad: 7c900000 7c9af000   ntdll.dll
ModLoad: 7c800000 7c8f6000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\kernel32.dll
ModLoad: 77dd0000 77e6b000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\ADVAPI32.dll
ModLoad: 77e70000 77f02000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\RPCRT4.dll
ModLoad: 77fe0000 77ff1000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\Secur32.dll
ModLoad: 75f80000 7607d000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\BROWSEUI.dll
ModLoad: 77f10000 77f59000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\GDI32.dll
ModLoad: 7e410000 7e4a1000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\USER32.dll
ModLoad: 77c10000 77c68000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\msvcrt.dll
ModLoad: 774e0000 7761d000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\ole32.dll
ModLoad: 77f60000 77fd6000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\SHLWAPI.dll
ModLoad: 77120000 771ab000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\OLEAUT32.dll
ModLoad: 7e290000 7e401000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\SHDOCVW.dll
ModLoad: 77a80000 77b15000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\CRYPT32.dll
ModLoad: 77b20000 77b32000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\MSASN1.dll
ModLoad: 754d0000 75550000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\CRYPTUI.dll
ModLoad: 5b860000 5b8b5000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\NETAPI32.dll
ModLoad: 77c00000 77c08000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\VERSION.dll
ModLoad: 78050000 78120000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\WININET.dll
ModLoad: 00400000 00409000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\Normaliz.dll
ModLoad: 78000000 78045000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\iertutil.dll
ModLoad: 76c30000 76c5e000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\WINTRUST.dll
ModLoad: 76c90000 76cb8000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\IMAGEHLP.dll
ModLoad: 76f60000 76f8c000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\WLDAP32.dll
ModLoad: 7c9c0000 7d1d7000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\SHELL32.dll
ModLoad: 5ad70000 5ada8000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\UxTheme.dll
(404.268): Break instruction exception – code 80000003 (first chance)
eax=00191eb4 ebx=7ffde000 ecx=00000005 edx=00000020 esi=00191f48 edi=00191eb4
eip=7c90120e esp=0007fb20 ebp=0007fc94 iopl=0         nv up ei pl nz na po nc
cs=001b  ss=0023  ds=0023  es=0023  fs=003b  gs=0000             efl=00000202
ntdll!DbgBreakPoint:
7c90120e cc              int     3
0:000> g
ModLoad: 5cb70000 5cb96000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\ShimEng.dll
ModLoad: 6f880000 6fa4a000   C:\WINDOWS\AppPatch\AcGenral.DLL
ModLoad: 76b40000 76b6d000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\WINMM.dll
ModLoad: 77be0000 77bf5000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\MSACM32.dll
ModLoad: 769c0000 76a74000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\USERENV.dll
ModLoad: 76390000 763ad000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\IMM32.DLL
ModLoad: 773d0000 774d3000   C:\WINDOWS\WinSxS\x86_Microsoft.Windows.Common-Controls_6595b64144ccf1df_6.0.2600.5512_x-ww_35d4ce83\comctl32.dll
ModLoad: 74e30000 74e9d000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\RichEd20.dll
ModLoad: 5d090000 5d12a000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\comctl32.dll
ModLoad: 10000000 100a3000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\wvUnKAQK.dll
HEAP[explorer.exe]: Invalid allocation size – FFFFFFFB (exceeded 7ffdefff)
ModLoad: 76780000 76789000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\SHFOLDER.dll
ModLoad: 71ab0000 71ac7000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\WS2_32.dll
ModLoad: 71aa0000 71aa8000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\WS2HELP.dll
ModLoad: 76f20000 76f47000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\DNSAPI.dll
ModLoad: 78130000 78257000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\urlmon.dll
ModLoad: 52330000 5233d000   C:\Program Files\DAP\DAPIEMonitor.dll
ModLoad: 6c370000 6c462000   C:\Program Files\DAP\MFC42.DLL
ModLoad: 76080000 760e5000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\MSVCP60.dll
ModLoad: 74720000 7476c000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\MSCTF.dll
ModLoad: 77b40000 77b62000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\apphelp.dll
ModLoad: 755c0000 755ee000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\msctfime.ime
ModLoad: 01100000 013c5000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\xpsp2res.dll
ModLoad: 76fd0000 7704f000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\CLBCATQ.DLL
ModLoad: 77050000 77115000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\COMRes.dll
ModLoad: 661c0000 663dd000   C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 2007\Office12\GrooveShellExtensions.dll
ModLoad: 68ef0000 68fe1000   C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 2007\Office12\GrooveUtil.DLL
ModLoad: 016d0000 0176b000   C:\WINDOWS\WinSxS\x86_Microsoft.VC80.CRT_1fc8b3b9a1e18e3b_8.0.50727.3053_x-ww_b80fa8ca\MSVCR80.dll
ModLoad: 68ff0000 68ff7000   C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 2007\Office12\GrooveNew.DLL
ModLoad: 7c630000 7c64b000   C:\WINDOWS\WinSxS\x86_Microsoft.VC80.ATL_1fc8b3b9a1e18e3b_8.0.50727.762_x-ww_cbb27474\ATL80.DLL
ModLoad: 68000000 68036000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\rsaenh.dll
ModLoad: 76380000 76385000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\MSImg32.dll
ModLoad: 77a20000 77a74000   C:\WINDOWS\System32\cscui.dll
ModLoad: 76600000 7661d000   C:\WINDOWS\System32\CSCDLL.dll
ModLoad: 58ab0000 58ad5000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\desk.cpl
ModLoad: 5ba60000 5bad1000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\themeui.dll
ModLoad: 77920000 77a13000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\setupapi.dll
ModLoad: 605d0000 605d9000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\mslbui.dll
ModLoad: 77920000 77a13000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\setupapi.dll
ModLoad: 76980000 76988000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\LINKINFO.dll
ModLoad: 76990000 769b5000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\ntshrui.dll
ModLoad: 76b20000 76b31000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\ATL.DLL
ModLoad: 7d1e0000 7d49c000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\msi.dll
ModLoad: 42ef0000 434bd000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\ieframe.dll
ModLoad: 76bf0000 76bfb000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\PSAPI.DLL
ModLoad: 75cf0000 75d81000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\MLANG.dll
ModLoad: 6bd10000 6bd20000   C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office 2007\Office12\msohevi.dll
ModLoad: 47280000 47292000   C:\WINDOWS\System32\mmcshext.dll
ModLoad: 723b0000 723be000   C:\WINDOWS\System32\hhsetup.dll
ModLoad: 5fc10000 5fc43000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\msutb.dll
(404.3a4): C++ EH exception – code e06d7363 (first chance)
ModLoad: 7e720000 7e7d0000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\SXS.DLL
ModLoad: 76360000 76370000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\WINSTA.dll
(404.3a4): Integer divide-by-zero – code c0000094 (first chance)
First chance exceptions are reported before any exception handling.
This exception may be expected and handled.
eax=00000001 ebx=00000000 ecx=7c8099fd edx=00000000 esi=7c8106c7 edi=10085ff8
eip=10027065 esp=00cefd24 ebp=00ceff90 iopl=0         nv up ei pl nz na po nc
cs=001b  ss=0023  ds=0023  es=0023  fs=003b  gs=0000             efl=00010202
*** WARNING: Unable to verify checksum for C:\WINDOWS\system32\wvUnKAQK.dll
*** ERROR: Symbol file could not be found.  Defaulted to export symbols for C:\WINDOWS\system32\wvUnKAQK.dll
wvUnKAQK!nieb+0x25ede:
10027065 f7bd04feffff    idiv    eax,dword ptr [ebp-1FCh] ss:0023:00cefd94=00000000
0:001> g
ModLoad: 71b20000 71b32000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\MPR.dll
ModLoad: 75f60000 75f67000   C:\WINDOWS\System32\drprov.dll
ModLoad: 71c10000 71c1e000   C:\WINDOWS\System32\ntlanman.dll
ModLoad: 71cd0000 71ce7000   C:\WINDOWS\System32\NETUI0.dll
ModLoad: 71c90000 71cd0000   C:\WINDOWS\System32\NETUI1.dll
ModLoad: 71c80000 71c87000   C:\WINDOWS\System32\NETRAP.dll
ModLoad: 71bf0000 71c03000   C:\WINDOWS\System32\SAMLIB.dll
ModLoad: 75f70000 75f7a000   C:\WINDOWS\System32\davclnt.dll
ModLoad: 02ad0000 02ae4000   C:\WINDOWS\system32\LMIRfsClientNP.dll
eax=00cef600 ebx=00000001 ecx=00365138 edx=00360608 esi=7c81cb23 edi=00000000
eip=7c90e4f4 esp=00cef448 ebp=00cef458 iopl=0         nv up ei pl nz na pe nc
cs=001b  ss=0023  ds=0023  es=0023  fs=003b  gs=0000             efl=00000206
ntdll!KiFastSystemCallRet:
7c90e4f4 c3              ret
0:001> g
       ^ No runnable debuggees error in ‘g’

 

The errors (in purple font), indicated I had a problem with two dll’s, “msutb.dll” and “wvUnKAQK.dll“. Even, though “ntdll.dll”, seemed to have a problem, having Google’d about it, I decided to concentrate on the other two errors as, after I pressed F5 the first time, explorer.exe continued to run and the taskbar appeared on my desktop. It wasn’t until I pressed F5 the subsequent times that it disappeared.

 Tip

A useful tip to know is that from most applications, when you launch the dialog box to “open” a file, e.g. from Task Manager or even Notepad say,

Notepad - Open a file

Notepad - Open a file

From the dialog box, you can search for the file you’re after, (you may have to change the “Files of type” option to see “All Files”), and then once you found it, right click on it to bring up the shortcut menu for the item.

Notepad - View Files Shortcut menu

Notepad - View Files Shortcut menu

This allowed me to “Rename” both the “.dll” files to “.dl_”, so that they weren’t accessed when explorer ran, but not deleted, just in case I still needed them. You can also use this method to run/open files, create new folders, delete files ….. etc,  as well.

After I had renamed the offending dlls and ran the explorer.exe file via the Windows Debugger tool, Explorer started and stayed open. Viola, at last. 

I rebooted to see if it was resolved, and yes it was. For good measure I re-installed XP SP3, to correct any other issues I may have had. I believe this added the correct version of the dll files, as shown above.

I hope this helps some of you who have suffered with this problem. Having Google’d this issue I have seen how frustrating it has been for some computer users. I’m not saying your problems will be the same as mine, but hopefully the debugging tool will identify where your issue lies.

I must say thanks to my wife, who has had to put up with my bad mood over those few days as I became obsessed with fixing this problem.

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6 Responses to “Solved: Explorer.exe crashes (turns on and off) on startup”

  1. Geo said

    You are a life-saver man !

    Like

  2. Stantcho Stantchev said

    In my case it was McAfee antivirus entapi.dll. And it was crashing outlook as well. Your approach definitely works. Great Job!

    Like

  3. hey, your post really aids, today i receive the same troubles, and i have no clue on what are the best registry cleaner. luckily i research bing and found your post, it helps me get rid of my trouble.
    thanks againone thing, may i paste your entry on my blog? i will add the source.regards!

    Like

  4. Elon B. said

    “may i paste your entry on my blog” – If you add a link to my blog, then fine.
    Regards

    Like

  5. […] Solved: Explorer.exe crashes (turns on and off) on startup … – Jan 02, 2009 · Basically, I can start my laptop and get to the XP Logon prompt and login as normal. On some occasions explorer.exe would start and I would see my …… […]

    Like

  6. […] Solved: Explorer.exe crashes (turns on and off) on startup … – Jan 02, 2009 · The errors (in purple font), indicated I had a problem with two dll’s, “msutb.dll” and “wvUnKAQK.dll“. Even, though “ntdll.dll”, seemed to …… […]

    Like

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