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Troubleshooting Windows Explorer Errors

A HelpWithWindows TechFile

By: Arie Slob

I get messages from people having problems with Windows Explorer crashes on a regular basis. Mostly they go something like this: "When I right-click a file in Windows Explorer, I get a message that Windows Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close" or "When I try to browse through the folders on my computer, I receive an error message that Windows Explorer needs to close."

In a lot of cases, these errors are caused by 3rd party shell extensions that are not functioning properly.

Windows Explorer right-click contect menu These shell extensions are responsible for creating the options you'll see on the menu when you right-click a file using Windows Explorer. Some 3rd party applications will add their own "action" to this menu, and this can cause problems.

If you look careful at the picture on the right, you'll see several non-standard additions to the right-click menu: "Sacn with Microsoft Security Essentials", "Format Factory (F)", "Acronis Recovery" and others.

To try and find if a 3rd party shell extension is causing your Windows Explorer to crash on certain actions, you'll need to download this handy (and free) utility: ShelExView. It will let you view & disable shell extensions.

After you downloaded & executed it, ShelExView will show all shell extensions installed on your system. You could sort the entries so that you'll have all non Microsoft shell extensions grouped together. Next, select all these non Microsoft shell extensions, and disable them. Try the sequence that would previously have resulted in Windows Explorer crashing (for example browsing a folder, or right-clicking a file). If no crash occurred, one of the shell extensions you disabled has been causing the crash. To find out which one, start enabling one shell extension at a time, each time testing to make sure you can still use Windows Explorer without it crashing, until you find the shell extension that would cause Windows Explorer to crash.

Click for Larger View

ShelExView gives you all additional information you need to know such as the product & company name of the shell extension, as well as the version number. If you would like to continue using the software of the 3rd party whose shell extension is causing the Explorer crash, contact the company responsible, and check to see if there is an updated version of the software you are trying to use.

Another cause of Windows Explorer crashes can also be attributed to the existence of viruses or spyware on the machine. To tackle this, start by running one or two on-line virus scans. I'd suggest the on-line scan from eTrust and/or Trend Micro's HouseCall.

To combat any spyware that might lurk on your machine, I'd suggest the following programs: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, Javacool's SpywareBlaster, or SUPERAntiSpyware. As with Anti-virus scanners, run at least two different ones, they will detect different things!

If you need more help in fighting Spyware or Virus infections, start by reading these instructions on our support forum, and post a message in the appropriate forum.

Below I have listed a number of Microsoft Knowledge Base Articles dealing with Windows Explorer crashes:

KB Art.#


Applies to    


Fatal Exception Error When Opening or Closing Control Panel

Windows 95, 98


You receive an "Invalid page fault" error message when you try to view the contents of a folder or its subfolders by using Thumbnail view in Windows Explorer

Windows 98, Me, 2000, XP


Explorer Caused an Invalid Page Fault in Module...

Windows 98, Me


"All Folders" pane missing or Windows Explorer is blank

Windows 95, 98


Err Msg: Windows Encountered an Error Accessing the System Registry

Windows 98


Error Message Typing Address in Address Box or in Open Box

Internet Explorer 4.x, 5.x


Error Message: Explorer Caused an Invalid Page Fault in Pdm.dll

Windows 98 Second Edition


Cannot Rename System File in Windows Explorer

Windows 2000 Server


Error Message: Explorer.exe Has Generated Errors and Will Be Closed by Windows

Windows 2000


Windows Explorer May Hang When Viewing Images

Internet Explorer 5.x


Error Message When You Open a New Folder

Windows 98, ME


Error Message When You Use Windows Explorer to Search for Files or Folders

Windows 2000


Windows Explorer Stops Responding When You Take Ownership of Folder Without Selecting a New Owner

Windows 2000


Dr. Watson Error Message May Occur When You Copy and Paste Files by Using Windows Explorer

Windows 2000


Desktop Is White and Error Message Reports a Windows Explorer Error in Browseui.dll

Windows Me


FIX: "Explorer.exe has generated errors" error message when you click the "Properties" of Outlook 2000 or search for files or folders

Microsoft Outlook 2000


Error Message: Explorer Caused an Invalid Page Fault in Module Browseui.dll

Windows 98, 98 SE


Error Message: Error Loading Explorer.exe You Must Reinstall Windows

Windows 98, 98 SE, Millennium Edition


You receive an "Explorer.exe has generated errors and will be closed by Windows" error message

Windows XP


Windows Explorer May Stop Responding When You Close a Window

Windows XP


Access Violation in Windows Explorer When You View Printer Properties in Active Directory

Windows 2000


Error Message When You Start Windows Explorer: Explorer.exe Has Generated Errors and Will Be Closed by Windows

Windows 2000


Windows Explorer Quits When You View Contents of My Computer

Windows XP


Windows Explorer Quits and Generates an Error Message When You Try to Map a Network Drive

Windows 2000, XP


Explorer.exe Repeatedly Generates Access Violation Error Messages After You Log On

Windows 2000


"Explorer.exe Has Generated Errors and Will Be Closed By Windows" Error Message When You Try to Install Service Pack 3

Windows 2000 SP3


Explorer.exe may generate an application error when you close a folder

Windows XP SP1


Windows XP halts on desktop when loading Windows Explorer, after upgrading to Service Pack 2

Windows XP


Access Violation Occurs in Windows Explorer When the My Computer Window Is Refreshed

Windows 2000


You receive a "Windows Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close" error message when you try to open My Network Places in Windows XP

Windows XP


Windows Explorer Stops Responding When You Try to Rotate a JPEG Image in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer

Windows XP


"Access Violation" Error Message in Windows Explorer on Windows 2000-Based Server

Windows 2000 Server


Windows XP Explorer Pane flickers on mapped network drives

Windows XP


Windows Explorer Stops Responding When It Tries to Sort More Than 1 Million Objects on a RAID Controller

Windows 2000


Mipmapi.dll Error Message When You Point to "Send To" and Then Click "Mail Recipient" to Send a File in an E-mail Message

Windows 2000, XP


"Explorer Has Encountered an Error and Needs to Close" Error Message When you Start Windows XP

Windows XP


Error Message Occurs When File is Right-Clicked, or Problems Occur When Opening Certain Files in Autodesk or Discreet Products

Windows 2000, XP


Windows Explorer stops responding and the shortcut menu does not close when you use the SHIFT+F10 keyboard shortcut

Windows XP


My Computer and Windows Explorer unexpectedly quit when you try to open My Network Places or Shared Documents in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003, XP


Windows Explorer Does Not Start After Resuming From Hibernation

Windows Server 2003, XP


A delay may occur before the contents of a folder are displayed in the Windows Explorer Folders pane in Windows Server 2003 or Windows XP

Windows Server 2003, XP


Explorer.exe repeatedly quits unexpectedly in Windows XP

Windows XP, XP SP1


You receive an "Explorer.EXE - Entry Point Not Found - The procedure entry point SHCreateThreadRef could not be located in the dynamic link library Shlwapi.dll" error message after you install the MS04-038 security update

Windows XP SP2


Windows Explorer stops responding, or you receive an "unexpected network error occurred" error message when you use the Client for NFS service to connect to a NFS volume in Windows Services for UNIX 3.5

Microsoft Windows Services for UNIX 3.5


Windows Explorer may exit unexpectedly when you use it to view TIFF files in the Details view in Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003


The Explorer.exe process may unexpectedly quit when you try to search for a file in Windows XP or in Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003, XP


Error message when you restart a Windows XP-based computer: "Explorer.exe unable to locate component"

Windows XP


You may experience problems in Windows Explorer or in the Windows shell after you install security update MS06-015

Windows 2000, Server 2003, XP


Windows Explorer randomly generates an access violation and closes when you refresh the wireless network list on a Windows Server 2003-based computer or on a Windows XP x64-based computer

Windows Server 2003, XP Professional x64


Windows Explorer may stop responding on a Windows XP-based client computer in a domain environment, and CPU usage is very high on the primary domain controller

Windows XP Professional


Windows Explorer stops responding on a Windows Vista-based computer when you try to open a file or a folder that resides on a Sony Ultra Portable universal serial bus drive

Windows Vista


Windows Explorer crashes when you try to remove the $WINDOWS.OLD folder from a computer that has been upgraded to Windows Vista

Windows Vista


Windows Explorer stops responding or the Svchost.exe process stops responding when you try to copy encrypted files to a WebDAV resource in Windows Vista

Windows Vista


Error message when you log on to Windows Vista: "Windows Explorer has stopped working"

Windows Vista


Error message when the Explorer.exe process crashes on a Windows XP SP2-based computer: "STOP 0xc0000005"

Windows XP SP2


Error message when you try to copy files from a Windows Vista-based computer to another computer by using Windows Explorer: "Out of memory There is not enough memory to complete this operation"

Windows Vista


FIX: Windows Explorer crashes when you minimize Windows Media Player

Windows Vista


You receive an error message in module Olkfstub.dll in Windows Explorer when you open a folder that contains many .msg files or many .oft files

Microsoft Office Outlook 2003


Windows Explorer closes and restarts on systems that run OneCare Family Safety

Windows Vista, XP


Why do I receive the following error message when I use Windows Explorer in Windows Vista to rename folders: "The file or folder does not exist"

Windows Vista


Windows Explorer stops responding when you try to view thumbnails for Quick Time content on a Windows XP-based computer that has Windows Live Photo Gallery installed

Windows Live Photo Gallery


Windows Explorer crashes when you try to use a shortcut to open a file that is located in a WebDAV folder

Microsoft Office 2007


Windows Explorer may crash when you try to expand a parent folder in the Windows Explorer navigation pane in Windows Vista or in Windows Server 2008

Windows Server 2008, Vista


Windows Explorer stops responding for approximately 30 seconds when you try to access the DFS resources in a Windows Server 2008 domain

Windows Server 2008