View Full Version : Windows Explorer Crashing

11-23-2006, 03:39 AM
My Windows Explorer keeps crashing almost every time I open a My Comp folder to view files, and then displays the "send error" message, and then usually the desktop and icons come back, although not all the time.

I've tried many methods, including virus scanning and ShelEx, but neither have seemed to fix my problem. Anyone know what might be the cause, and if there is a way to get rid of the problem?

11-23-2006, 04:07 AM
I have no clue why it's happening; it happens to me when I run super low on memory sometimes, and sometimes randomly but never regularly like that.

if you have a program open, you can try alt+tabbing to it and using the Open dialog to jumpstart the explorer process (your windows will be in a different order on the taskbar though)

11-23-2006, 09:13 AM
It's probably a resource issue if you have an older computer and moreso, if the crashes happen with other applications, particularly more memory/CPU intensive ones.

Otherwise, it's more likely that you have a case of corrupt system files.
First check your resources (RAM and page file) via the task manager (ctrl+alt+del), and if those figures seem ok, you might want to try getting a hold of a Windows CD and running a repair installation. You can also run repairs using OEM rescue CDs that come with most non-custom computers.

Running a system repair will basically reinstall all critical parts of your system without removing your data. That means you may lose configuration settings like wallpapers and screensavers, but it won't delete, for example, your music.

What are your system specs (Windows version, CPU, RAM, video card, etc.)?

11-24-2006, 09:02 PM
I'm using Windows XP on an Acer Aspire 2003LCi laptop, 512 memory, 40GB HD, AMD Sempron processor 2800+

I only have about 400 MB on my C drive left, and 100 on the D, considering my HD is so damn small. I was considering purchasing an external/internal HD, but I wasn't sure that would solve my problem.

Where exactly is the RAM and page file? I'm not sure if I have the windows backup CD or not. Do you think running a system restore would help fix it, or do you simply reccomend wiping my computer clean? I have a feeling this might be related to a virus/worm although nothing seems to come up in tests.

11-25-2006, 01:35 AM
You can view the page file usage and available RAM by pressing ctrl+alt+del, and going to the performance tab.
For page file, just note down the number by the "PF Usage" meter.
For the RAM, look to the "Physical Memory (K)" section, and note down the numbers beside "total" and "available".

Your system is fairly up to date, so if it is a resource problem, it's likely that you have a memory leak of some description, when one process will keep consuming memory, but not releasing it when finished. This is usually indicated by the computer only crashing after it has been on for a prolonged period of time, and a reboot will fix the problem.
It's very hard to isolate and fix a memory leak, so sometimes the only option is to format and reinstall Windows.

Did you install any software around the time that the crashes started happening?

Definitely do a full virus scan and spyware check, and see if that turns anything up, because memory leaks can absolutely be caused by virii.

11-25-2006, 02:44 AM
Ok, I have a total of about 457200 physical memory with 74000 available, and the PF Usage is 419 MB.

The memory leakage sounds fairly accurate, as lately my computer has been turning off by itself after being on for awhile.

I don't remember installing any software around when it started crashing, unless downloading a program like Winamp counts, but no I haven't installed software by disk or anything for a long time.

I've been doing regular scans for viruses and spy/ad ware, and I found a ton of stuff a week or so ago, but I deleted it using Ad Aware and it hasn't shown up again. As for the viruses, I also deleted those and whenever one has come up recently, it has said it has been healed. However, I'll check again for both.

11-25-2006, 03:02 AM
The page file usage is quite high, assuming it has 500Mb total allocated disk space; your RAM is fine.

Now if the computer has just been turning off, then that could also mean that it is overheating. Do you use it often in a situation where the air vents are blocked, like on a duvet or soft surface, or something like that?

Does it ever just hard lock, or automatically reboot itself?

11-25-2006, 03:11 AM
Yes, I guessed it might be overheating as well. I use my laptop on my bed comforter, although I've been using it on here for over a year and have never had any problems until recently (although the lack of storage/possibly viruses might be a cause for that).

I haven't noticed it hard locking or automatically rebooting, it just shuts off. Like I'll go upstairs to eat dinner and leave it on my bed running, usually with Firefox open, and when I come back it's turned off.

11-25-2006, 03:34 AM
Don't use laptops on anything soft, get a book to put under it. See if it behaves differently after that.

11-25-2006, 03:43 AM
In that case, it could be the power management settings on the laptop.

You can check them by going to your control panel and then to power options. If there is anything in the "System standby" or "System hibernates" boxes, that may have caused it to turn off, especially if the laptop was running on battery at the time it turned off.
It may also have been a case of the battery simply running dead.

If it overheats, it will either suddenly switch off, actually shut down while in use or switch off and reboot instantly.
It can also suddenly bluescreen, and/or hard lock until you switch it off, but by default it will reboot, so unless you've had similar problems before, it's not likely you would have changed it.

If it is overheating, I hope it is still under warranty, because you can get it fixed for free. :p

If I were you, I'd back up my stuff, format the drive and reinstall Windows, just to be sure it's not a software problem.
Be warned that reinstalling Windows is not just a case of putting the disc in and reinstalling. That will install another Windows.
You need to format and then reinstall to have a clean drive. :p

11-25-2006, 03:57 AM
I keep my computer plugged in at all times, so it's not a question of battery life, and I checked the standby settings and it's set to "never", so it's not that either.

I'll probably just do what you suggested and reinstall Windows, if I can hopefully find the installation CD. This should get rid of any potential virii/worms that are on the computer right?

Thanks for the help, it's much appreciated :)

11-25-2006, 09:37 AM
Unfortunately, reinstalling Windows doesn't necessarily destroy virii.
Formatting your hard drive is what will get rid of them.

Formatting your drive can be done in a number of ways, and unfortunately, is a fairly non-trivial exercise.
My personal preference is to use a Live CD for a Linux distribution and run the program "cfdisk" from the command line, however, having said that, cfdisk is not the easiest program to use.

I believe you could use a graphical partitioning tool such as Partition Magic to do it as well, which is a lot easier.
Just be absolutely sure to back up anything you might need, because formatting will destroy the data on your drive, and to recover it you would need to pay a large sum of money to a computer forensics company. :p

11-25-2006, 06:27 PM
I was actually considering installing Arch Linux (as recommended by a friend) once I format and reinstall Windows, although I'm not really sure of the steps required to do so.

If I were to use the Linux method to format, could you tell me where I would go to obtain the Live CD, and maybe some of the steps involved? I don't mean like a detailed run-through, just basic steps.

I might just use Partition, although it looks like you have to pay. Unless you can use a free trial version that is. I just want to make sure I know what I'm doing before I do it, as I'm not very experience in these areas unfortunately.

As for the backup disks, the only problem I see with that is that my computer only burns CDs, and I have at least 20GB worth of music/video I want to backup. Since a CD is only 800MB, would that mean I'd have to use about 20 CDs?

11-26-2006, 04:06 AM
Ok, I'll start off with the Linux part. Just for reference, most install CDs come with a partitioning tool to format your drive.

Live CD
A live CD is an operating system on a CD. If you turn your computer on with a Live CD in the drive, you will boot into Linux - running it doesn't touch the data on your hard drive. The easiest way to get one is to download an ISO from the website, and burn it to CD. After that, all you need to do is put the CD in the drive and turn your computer on and it will go.
Here are some download locations for various popular distros:
<a href="http://www.knopper.net/knoppix-mirrors/index-en.html">Knoppix</a>; <a href="http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/download.html">Damn Small Linux</a>; <a href="http://www.ubuntu.com/download">Ubuntu</a>; <a href="http://www.gentoo.org/main/en/mirrors.xml">Gentoo (I use this one mainly :p)</a>.
Also, you can get Ubuntu CDs delivered worldwide for free from http://shipit.ubuntu.com.

Ok, now that you have booted off of the Live CD of your choice, you need to format your hard drive.

First you need to mount your hard drive. This makes it accessible to the operating system. The command to do this would look something like this: "mkdir /mnt/hd; mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/hd".
The only part that you should need to change is the red part, as that is an identifier for the disks in your computer.
Next, you need to choose your partitioning tool. I recommend cfdisk (a command line partitioner, but most distros will come with other utilities, like fdisk, parted, qtparted or gparted (Gnome-based graphical utility). <a href="http://www.linux.org/docs/ldp/howto/IBM7248-HOWTO/cfdisk.html">Here</a> is a small howto for formatting using cfdisk.
Note: For whichever distro you choose, there is definitely help available specific to that distro in the community.
Ok, so if you fire up a partitioning utility, you need to create at least 2 partitions for Linux.
- You need a partition for the bootloader (if you choose to use the Linux bootloader and not just the Windows one).
- You need a root partition (your main one - should be large).
- You need a swap partition if you have less than 2Gb of RAM (used as "RAM" on your hard drive).
Once you create your partitions, you need to set the filesystem. I recommend ext2/3 for boot and root partitions, and Linux swap (as it is most commonly called by partitioners) for the swap partition.
Then you need to make one partition bootable. This will be your boot partition. This is also usually very self-explanatory when you see the utility.
This is the most important step - You need to write the partition table to disk. Up until now, you have just created a "draft" of your hard drive (no changes have been made yet). Writing the partition table to disk commits the changes, and this will actually destroy data on your disk.

Installing Linux
This varies a lot between distros, but you need to download the installation ISO from the homepage and burn that to disc. Then you need to boot up off of the disk, and follow the installation process. Again, there will be a large amount of support for whichever distro you choose.

Right, so that's if you want to use Linux. If not, the next bit is for you. :p

So you need to format your drive to wipe everything when reinstalling Windows. This prevents multiple copies from being installed.

Backing up data
This is a bit of a tough one for you, as you're only using a CD writer. Probably what I would do is either buy a cheap DVD writer (you can get one for about $US20 now) or borrow a hard drive off of a friend.
If you have an iPod or some other mp3 player with a hard drive, you can use that too. :p


Ok, go for the Linux live Cd option, and like above, mount your hard drive using something similar to "mkdir /mnt/hd; mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/hd".
Then fire up a partitioning utility, and instead of creating partitions, delete everything you have there.
Then write the partition table to disk.
Now your disk is clean, so you can reinstall Windows from a clean slate (Just put the CD in and it will sort your disk out). :p

11-26-2006, 10:26 PM
I've been gone for a week and this may not be useful at all since youve decided to reinstall with linux it looks like from skimming.

I've had problems in the past with errors like this when the hard drive was nearing filled.... but it may be unrelated.
I would advise deleting what you could live without after backing up to floppy/CD if possible... maybe freeing 400-600mb more space, then doing a disk deframent(or commonly called defrag)... and possibly a scandisk(error checking).

It may or may not help.... but had seemed to help with full hard drives in the past for me. Of course i haven't had a space issue with hard drives since getting a 250gb and a DVD-RW burner... four years ago... so it may be alot different in windows XP than windows 2000/9x