Windows XP crashing
December 21, 2004 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Win XP Problem: Windows Explorer (and My Computer) keep crashing. If I bring either up, it crashes immediately (the computer doesn't crash). Around the same time, I noticed I'd acquired some spyware. So I ran Ad-aware, and it seemed to get rid of the bad stuff. But Explorer still crashes. I ran Norton Anti-Virus, which claimed it found viruses but couldn't fix them because I needed to adjust the properties of some of the Norton files. But I can't adjust these properties, because I can't get to the files (because Explorer crashes). Help.
posted by grumblebee to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Have you tried booting up in Safe Mode and opening explorer or my computer from there?
posted by googly at 7:00 AM on December 21, 2004

That will quite possibly work. Or you could try A43.
posted by ed\26h at 7:16 AM on December 21, 2004

You could hit ctrl+alt+del, bring up the task manager, then do file, new task. from there you can browse for an app to run, including notepad to edit documents. I've seen a problem similar to this and explorer wouldn't even launch in safe mode.

Something else you can try, if you have access to a PC with a CD-R, is to build a BartPE CD. This is a WinXP environment that runs off of the CD, and gives you access to the hard drives. You can choose to add in AdAware and Norton Antivirus to the build so you can scan your hard drives for problems. It's helped me fix a few issues in the past. Or at the very least, to salvage files from a computer that would otherwise be inaccessible.
posted by bDiddy at 8:13 AM on December 21, 2004

A while back I got into some trouble with spyware. It came in through a tweaked version of the Sasser worm that liked to reboot my machine, and one of its hallmarks was a self-perpetuating spyware trojan horse.

It doesn't sound like we have the same problem exactly, but there are some similarities. I've documented my approach on my blog, and I would especially recommend Hijack This coupled with some support from the spyware forum I referenced. It was HJT on top of Ad Aware (useful) and Norton (pretty useless) that helped me tackle this problem. I'd also second what googly said about safe mode.
posted by sagwalla at 8:38 AM on December 21, 2004

These days, I use a three-pronged approach to cleaning out malware:

AdAware, Spybot - Search & Destroy, and HijackThis

Each tends to find something the other two overlooked. Even then, you will often have to result to brute force to remove some malware. Bastids.
posted by briank at 11:51 AM on December 21, 2004

one thing to check: is explorer really crashing, or does it just look like it is?

lemme explain. i was helping a guy in the department fix his windows box a week or so ago - explorer crashed when opened: except it didn't. what it did was throw up a random error ('error in dll XXXX and windows needs to restart") and i realized that by dismissing the dialog box i was really working with the crapware, and clicking the box was essentially me asking the system to shut down. by ignoring it i could still work with explorer underneath the dialog, just moved it out of the way. so not really an explorer crash, but a good facsimile thereof.

whatever crapware he had on there dumped thousands of copies of random dll files into the windows and system directories (realized this when searching for the dll that threw the "error"). by killing all 25 megs of these (mostly zero-k files!) the system was finally ok again and could handle a full spybot S-D and ad-aware scan, followed by norton 9 with the "extended threats" feature.

may or may not help you, but worth sharing.

anyway, if i can't get ad-aware to run i try spybot S-D; seems to be less targeted by crapware right now. some malware actively kills ad-aware scan attempts, but S-D can occasionally sneak by.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:56 AM on December 21, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. I've run adaware, hijackThis and spybot. They all found stuff, but Windows Explorer still crashes whenever I open any folder.

Norton AntiVirus found this virus:


Which it can't remove. I've found various sites that give you remove instructions, but none that I can get to work. Any ideas?
posted by grumblebee at 4:02 PM on December 21, 2004

posted by geekyguy at 5:56 PM on December 21, 2004

If you could back up your important files, format the drive and start over, would that be an acceptable solution? Frankly, I think trying to remove something this thorny is going to be more trouble than it's worth.

I'd suggest using Hiren's boot CD to boot up, back any files off to CD or external hard drive, wipe, start over, replace the files, run an immediate virus scan/spyware scan to make sure that none of your critical documents were infected, and call it a (very bad) day.
posted by gd779 at 8:33 PM on December 21, 2004

Response by poster: gd, I'm on the verge of following your instructions. I HATE reformatting my hard drive, because my job involves me working with dozens of applications. It takes days to reinstall them all. UGH.
posted by grumblebee at 6:42 AM on December 22, 2004

i'm on win2k, so xp might differ, but have you tried:
delete anything you don't recognize in

stuff that "won't go away" frequently has a thingy which reinstalls it in one of those locations.
posted by juv3nal at 7:26 AM on December 22, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks. I'll try it!
posted by grumblebee at 10:33 AM on December 22, 2004

Response by poster: For anyone still following this thread, it looks like the problem is solved!

I posted my woes at a great site called, and a kind guy posted a solution. Windows explorer is working again, and I seem to be virus free.

posted by grumblebee at 3:47 PM on December 22, 2004

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