Windows Explorer won't run and desktop is blank

  • gadfly
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I am have a major problem with my PC and the bad news is I am not the most computer savvy person - so I could really use some help.

My operating system is Windows XP home edition. A few days ago I tried installing Norton Systemworks. I got an error message that said the install failed. Then the computer froze. When I rebooted I got a blank desktop. All I can do is open the task manager. The only programs I can run are Word Processing programs.

Windows Explorer is not listed in the tast manager nor can I run it. I removed all the Norton files I could find but right clicking on them only gave the option of deleting them not uninstalling.

When I try to run the computer from safe mode it's the same thing. However if I run it in the safe mode with the command prompt I can access regedit. I can't do a system recovery. I just get a blank window - no restore points.

I tried to do a repair reinstall. Everything looked like it was working but on reboot my old wallpaper popped back up and the same problem persisted.

Also, I can access the recovery console but I don't know anything about using it. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. I've been looking for answers for days and trying to get help from Norton but their last response was to email them a screenshot of my error message! I explained I didn't have that functionality.
  • ATNO/TW
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Post 3+ Months Ago

There are a couple of "cleaning" tools linked to in This Article
  • gadfly
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Unfortunately I can't access the control panel to do this. And I no longer have access to any norton folders since I deleted them and now can't view my trash. Also, I'm using systemworks 2006 (just additional information). I did remove the symantec registry keys but there was no apparent result.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Download SymNRT burn it to a CD and run it on the problem machine. Just burn it to a CD as SymNRT.exe Then on the problem machine go to Start| Run (or press and hold the Windows Key +R In the run dialog box type x:\SymNRT.exe (where x is the drive letter of your CD/DVD Rom)
  • gadfly
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thanks for the link. I tried running it from the CD and I got this error message: "This file does not have a program associated with it for performing this action. Create an association in the Folder Options control panel"

This is the same error message I get when I try to run any program. Of course I can't go to the control panel to create an association but on top of that I don't actually understand what this error message means.
  • ATNO/TW
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Well it's an executable file. It doesn't need a program associated with it. The fact that it won't run makes me wonder if your explorer shell is corrupt.

Try this. You said you could get to recovery console from the cd. OK go there and at the command prompt type:
chkdsk /f and hit enter

Follow any prompts and reboot if/when directed to. (Leave the XP cd in the drive on reboot but don't boot to it. Let chkdsk run. When it is complete it should boot to normal Windows and with any luck will have fixed the problem.
  • gadfly
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Post 3+ Months Ago

well, no luck. I tried chkdsk /f but that didn't run, it said unacceptable parameter or some such. I tried chkdsk /r and that ran. When it was finished it said it fixed one or more errors but when the computer rebooted nothing was different.
  • KatieTech
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I've had this problem before, but with XP Pro. Couldn't figure out what was wrong. You should be able to boot up just fine in Safe Mode and back up all your data.

I just reloaded Windows.
  • gadfly
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Post 3+ Months Ago

no - booting up in safe mode does not allow me to run programs or do anything else. The only thing I am able to do in safe mode is to get the command prompt and from there I can use regedit which I can't do when not in safe mode.

Speaking of regedit. I had deleted the symantec folder in regedit but that was it. I just decided to search the registry for symantec which I should have done before except to be honest I don't really know much about regedit in the first place so I am especially wary of deleting anything. Anyway I did find 6 registry keys when I searched.

The first two (Symantec.DownloadManger and SymantecDownloadManager.1) were interesting because they gave an error message "cannot open. Error while opening key" and they also couldn't be deleted. They were located in HKEY_Classes_Root.

I also found HKEY_Local_Machine\software\Microsoft\Security Center\Monitoring\symantecAntivirus (and symantecFirewall)

The other two occurences were value datas. In HKEY_Local_Machine\software\microsoft\Code store database\Distribution Units\6A344D34-5231-452A-8A57-Do64AC9B7862\Download Information for the value CODEBASE was the data value https://webdl.symantec.com/activex/symdlmgr.cab and for the INF value was the data value c:\WINDOWS\Downloaded Program files\symdlmgr.inf

Except for the first two I didn't try to delete any of them. Should I?
  • KatieTech
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Just reload. Save yourself any more trouble.
  • Alkatr0z
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Try booting into safe mode. Using the Task Managers -> Run to run this "sfc /scannow"
On another note try running a Command prompt by using "cmd" from the Run box and type in the following command:
reg query HKCR\exefile and copy and paste the results here. You can also make it automatically create a text file with the result by doing "reg query HKCR\exefile C:\exefilereg.txt"

Have you tried just typing "explorer" in the Run box as well?
  • makeweb
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Scan for viruses
  • classified
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Post 3+ Months Ago

did u try system restore ?
  • knexor2
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Assuming you haven't fixed this yet, can you import files into regedit?
  • jeeves86
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I'd just experienced this problem tonight on a friend's computer, it was the most bizarre thing I had ever seen. The computer would load as if it were loading regularly, but then after the XP welcome screen a dial-up prompt would appear. I would close it, and then an error code would appear, some kind of short alpha-numeric code. I tried the task manager and explorer was not running. I started it and got the same message, like explorer was corrupted.

To little avail, I ran msconfig and regedit, to find that there was a crapload of spyware and malware on this computer. It was very difficult to run the computer at this point, but I managed to get through a few things.

So I put the manufacturer's Windows XP CD into the drive, and what do you know, Explorer booted itself right up, along with all of the error messages that the computer normally got. It was like Explorer itself had to run directly from the CD.

Well there was no way I could fix this with what I had, I had to reformat the computer and re-install Windows. I couldn't run any programs when I first started up the computer, I was at a complete standstill, and someone with very limited computer experience, like my friend, would never be able to have figured out what to do. Heck, I couldn't even figure out what to do, I could basically only run things from command prompt.

So do you guys think? Spyware? Viruses? Sloppy deleting of files? Thanks for your information!

T.R
  • pabasarak
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Post 3+ Months Ago

1. rename your explorer.exe to explorer1.exe
2. change the value "Explorer.exe" in regedit HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon to "Explorer1.exe"
3. run "Explorer1.exe"
  • MI2
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I had common problem today. After an automatic update a client's computer wont load Windows Explorer and does not show icons and taskbar. Only the desktop walpaper and the mouse is shown. Task manager can be started with Ctrl-Alt-Del and I tried to start explorer.exe. A box came up saying "Windows cannot access the specified device, path or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access the item." To start Add/Remove Programs I used HijackThis. There is a button wich opens the Add/Remove thing. But none of the installed updates could be removed. There was no Uninstall button. Then I found a program called Trojan Remover on the internet, installed and started on that PC using Task Manager. The program said that there is a problem with some registry entry and missing files:

Removing the following registry keys:
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\WinLogon\Notify\igfxcui - already removed (or did not exist)
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\explorer.exe - already removed (or did not exist)


5:48:07 PM: Scanning ----- IMAGEFILE DEBUGGERS -----
Key = explorer.exe
Debugger file = C:\Program Files\Microsoft Common\svchost.exe - this entry has been removed [file not found to scan]

After restart windows started correctly with all icons and taksbar and so on.

I hope that helped someone
  • n0+4cIu3
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Post 3+ Months Ago

pabasarak wrote:
1. rename your explorer.exe to explorer1.exe
2. change the value "Explorer.exe" in regedit HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon to "Explorer1.exe"
3. run "Explorer1.exe"


YOU ROCK!!!
Out of all the information on the web about this issue, YOURS was the only one that worked!!!
One thing though, i couldn't rename explorer.exe to explorer1.exe so i grabbed an unaltered copy of explorer.exe from my laptop and renamed it while it was on the flash drive, then copied it to c:\windows.
AND IT WORKED!!!!

I LOVE YOU MAN!!!! :D :shock: :mrgreen: :D
  • ATNO/TW
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Great to see old advice is still helpful advice. Thanks for taking the time to let us know it worked for you.

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