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Windows 7: no longer able to restart Windows Explorer

13 Feb 2014   #1
pikalax

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
 
 
no longer able to restart Windows Explorer

Following a string of updates installed this afternoon, I am no longer able to restart Windows Explorer, be it from the context menu or from Task Manager (Run explorer.exe). The old instance closes successfully, but the new instance does not run. I am no longer able to run explorer.exe from system32. C:\Windows\explorer.exe still works, but it's the explorer.exe that can't be configured to start with administrator privileges.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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13 Feb 2014   #2
MilesAhead

Windows 7 32 bit
 
 

There should be a Restore Point from before the updates so you can roll it back.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Feb 2014   #3
pikalax

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
 
 

I tried that and it worked, though not without some residual DLL-related crashes on boot. I backed up the system32/explorer.exe to my desktop and started the updates again. I'll report back after the reboot.

EDIT: No dice. Not even restoring the backed-up copy of Explorer.exe seems to have helped. The system32 copy of explorer.exe is still unable to run; when called, it does not appear in the process list, which means something is killing it as soon as it is launched. Here's the list of all the updates installed.



It seems to be dependent on where explorer.exe is run from; swapping around various instances of explorer.exe seems to have no effect. To reference my earlier problem, running explorer.exe from C:\Windows causes the system tray icons (volume, network, power status) to be irrestorably missing. Running from C:\Windows\System32 formerly fixed the problem. Running from C:\Windows\SysWOW64 only brings up an Explorer window, not the desktop.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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14 Feb 2014   #4
MilesAhead

Windows 7 32 bit
 
 

Unfortunately, unless you see a post where someone tracked down the offending update and named it, it's a process of elimination. Is there some particular update you need? My inclination would be to restore to a working state and leave it that way. Then I'd watch for indications of the cause.

But that's my modus operandi. Not everyone agrees. But I hesitate to install fixes in a bunch unless it's a formal Service Pack. Just too many variables in the equation.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Feb 2014   #5
pikalax

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
 
 

I think I've solved my problem using the following two steps:
1) I went into C:\Users\[MY-USERNAME] and showed all protected hidden files. There were several files named ntuser.dat followed by a 64-bit string. I moved all but three of them to a backup folder on my desktop and restarted my computer. I was then able to restart Explorer from system32.
2) My original problem with explorer.exe was that it would launch from C:\Windows with standard privileges, causing the battery, WiFi, Volume, and Action Center system tray items to be irreversibly hidden. I solved this problem by going into regedit to the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\Shell and changing its value from 'explorer.exe' to 'C:\Windows\system32\explorer.exe'. After a restart, this problem was determined to be fully solved.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Feb 2014   #6
MilesAhead

Windows 7 32 bit
 
 

Good job. Thanks for posting the solution.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Feb 2014   #7
AddRAM

Windows 7 Pro x64 Windows 10 Pro x64 Creators Update
 
 

You should still Run a system file check if you haven`t yet.

SFC /SCANNOW Command - System File Checker
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Feb 2014   #8
pikalax

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
 
 

I did run that, and it found no issues it could repair.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Feb 2014   #9
pikalax

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
 
 

UPDATE: The problem returned following the most recent Windows update, but was resolved when I logged off and back on without a system reboot, implying the problem is potentially related to the automatic login protocol I set up on this machine. I'll try disabling that prior to my next round of updates and report back. For now, though, I am marking this as SOLVED.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Feb 2014   #10
UsernameIssues

W7 Pro SP1 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pikalax View Post
~~~
2) My original problem with explorer.exe was that it would launch from C:\Windows with standard privileges, causing....
~~~
Does "standard" mean the medium integrity level?

no longer able to restart Windows Explorer-exp.png

If so, then that is as it should be. Entire papers have been written on how Microsoft manages to force Explorer to stay at the medium integrity level for security reasons. If you manage to get around that, your system might not be as secure as it should be.



Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by AddRAM View Post
You should still Run a system file check if you haven`t yet.

SFC /SCANNOW Command - System File Checker
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pikalax View Post
I did run that, and it found no issues it could repair.
Does that mean that there were no integrity errors?
Or
Does that mean that there were integrity errors that could not be repaired?


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 no longer able to restart Windows Explorer




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