Looked around and didn't see this mentioned anywhere, so I hope this isn't a previously posted topic.
Whenever I try to open Explorer in normal mode, it opens, but there are no contents. When the mouse is moved over it, the "please wait" spinning circle comes up, like it's trying to access the drives, but failing to do so. It will remain like this even if left overnight. It can only be closed by ending task in task manager, then I need to manually run Explorer through the task manager file menu to get the task bar back, but still nothing will show up in explorer if opened. Desktop items are still visible and work fine, in fact as long as I don't need to use explorer or any of the features which depend on it (like windows update), I've never noticed that ANYTHING else is not working. I've even tried using a 3rd party file manager and that works great, so it's not that there is actually any problem getting at the data on any of the HDDs.
When in safemode, explorer works just fine, but as soon as I go back into normal mode it's back to the same problem. I have disabled all programs and non-microsoft processes in msconfig and that does not help.
I have run numerous virus scans with superantispyware, malwarebytes, spybot s&d, and kaspersky (only one is installed at any one time of course), and the system comes up clean. I've checked sysinternals autoruns and process explorer and don't see anything unusual in either of them, so I'm pretty confident that this is not a virus or rootkit.
The only recent change I can think of was the last batch of windows updates. And I did run into this problem one other time several weeks ago also right after installing several windows updates. At that time I fixed it by restoring the system from an image of the system drive, then after re-installing the windows updates everything still worked fine, so I'm not sure if the updates were simply coincidental to the problem, or somehow causing it. But since this has now happened twice in a fairly short period of time, I think I'd better try to get some help to see if anyone has a better solution than just restoring from backups whenever it happens.
edit - this is not the issue with the green progress bar taking forever to complete. It never shows up at all.