Windows Legacy OS forum

General discussion

error message: windows explorer has encountered an error

by eddiebigs / April 2, 2009 9:37 AM PDT

Hello, for no apparent reason, I keep getting this error message when I boot. The entire message says, "windows explorer has encountered an error and needs to close."

I have not done anything recent with the computer that could've caused this. It's my laptop and haven't used it in several weeks. It was working fine yesterday afternoon, and later that night, I got the error box.

When I close the box, i lose my desktop, and can't run a bunch of programs, including the "run" option.

Oddly, I am able to run my browsers and get on the web.

if I open the data report on the dialogue box this is what I see:

Error Signature

AppName: explorer.exe
ModVer: 5.1.2600.5512
AppVer: 6.2900.5512

I did some research on the forums and found several fixit options but they don't seem to apply to me because they are for different error signatures.

I did do a system restore, and it worked at first, but then on the next reboot, i got the error message again. Did another system restore, same thing.

I am using XP home edition on a Toshiba and believe I have all the service packs, but not sure about SP3. I cannot provide a model number cuz it is faded out, but perhaps a part no. will helP? PSM50U-01z00W.

Any suggestions

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: error message: windows explorer has encountered an error
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: error message: windows explorer has encountered an error
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Just so you know.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 2, 2009 10:23 AM PDT

The error signature is not going to help you here. If you keep thinking like this then we have to move to a wipe and fresh install.

-> Let me share the most common reason I see this error and that is a corrupt jpeg or avi file. Now before you claim it's not corrupt the real issue is that WINDOWS or a driver, codec or decoder thinks it is. What you believe does not matter.

The second most common item I'm running into is an AUTORUN file in some directory.

For the second item I'm finding AUTORUN EATER to help.

The first needs more investigation by you to see what files are being viewed by Explorer even if it's at the desktop.

-> IN CLOSING you told so little of the machine and it's care that it could be as simple as clogged heatsinks.

Collapse -
where do i start?
by eddiebigs / April 2, 2009 1:50 PM PDT
In reply to: Just so you know.

Thanks for your fast response R., I appreciate it. So I guess my first question is what do you need to know about my machine and it's care? I don't really use forums that much because I'm a bit of tech-moron so i'm not sure what your looking for. It's a 3 year old Toshiba with a faded model number. Do you need the model number? Do you know how I can ascertain that? I can read the part number and serial number. As for it's care, I haven't done much to it. I have AVG scanner on it but haven't run it in a long time cuz i don't use the computer that much. I always download whatever updates are available to it and to Windows though and it should be up to date.

I'm totally open to your suggestions about corrupt files but I don't know where to start. Also would love to try autorun eater but don't know what that is either. So, in short, where do I start?

Collapse -
found model number
by eddiebigs / April 2, 2009 4:07 PM PDT
In reply to: where do i start?

Here's the model number; M55-S325

Collapse -
Lets get started then, :)
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / April 2, 2009 8:38 PM PDT
In reply to: found model number

Bob's given you some ideas, so I will try and help you through them, although I am not as technically minded as others here.

1] Dust.

Excessive heat can be a killer for laptops. Often laptops are used on the lap, or on a soft service, (top of the bed, etc), where the vents are blocked and so heat builds up. Also, the vents can get clogged with dust. Here's an article that will help explain the basics of cleaning;

2] Corrupt jpeg or avi file.

A jpeg file is an image file, eg a photo. An avi file is a type of movie file. jpeg's and avi's are file extension types, such as "myphoto.jpg" or "myhomevideo.avi".

Bob is right that the "Explorer" will often fail when it encounters a corrupted image or video file, but I am not so sure this would happen on startup, unless there is such an image or video file stored on, (saved to), the Desktop.

The Desktop is the display you normally see once Windows has fully loaded. It should only display 'shortcuts' to files or applications, and not the files themselves. Can you remember if you have any image files or video files stored on your Desktop? If so, that may be why Explorer is crashing.

Just a note about Explorer. It's confusing. There is Internet Explorer, the browser, then "Windows Explorer", the file manager, (My Computer and My Documents are versions of Windows Explorer), and then there is "Explorer.exe", which is what displays the Desktop, taskbar, etc. In any Windows Operating System these are all interlinked, and so what affects one will often affect the others.

If you do have image or video files on your Desktop and Explorer keeps crashing on startup, then you can try and remove those files by booting the system into Safe Mode. Either delete them, or move them to a folder 'other' than the Desktop folder. Instructions here for How to boot into Safe Mode.

3] Autorun Eater.

It's possible that some malware has infected special files in the operating system. These files are 'autorun.ini' files are are hidden from view.

The utility Autorun Eater is available from

Download, install and run that, and see if it finds or fixes anything.

I hope that helps.


Collapse -
thanks and will do!
by eddiebigs / April 3, 2009 4:34 AM PDT

Thanks Mark for your suggestions. I will work on these over the weekend and see if any of them work. Whether they do or not, I will return here and give you an update. I appreciate your time and expertise. Stay tuned.

Collapse -
Same problem
by conkezz / April 3, 2009 5:26 AM PDT
In reply to: thanks and will do!

We have encountered the same problem. Have tried to download the autorun eater but unfortunately it locks us out of that as well! So we cannot run it. Its very frustrating. We also have e-mail and internet access. Our troubles started when we downloaded IE8 which we have now removed and gone back to IE7.

Be interested to know how you get on?

Collapse -
Tell us more about Autorun Eater
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / April 3, 2009 5:46 AM PDT
In reply to: Same problem

You say it locks you out.

Are you able to 'download' the file and save it to your hard disk? Or does the download fail? If so, try downloading it on a relative or friend's computer, transfer it to a CD, and copy it across from the CD to your hard disk, (the Desktop is a good temporary place), and install it from there.

Or do you mean, once downloaded, you cannot install it? If so, what error messages do you get?


Collapse -
more failure
by eddiebigs / April 3, 2009 3:04 PM PDT

Hey guys, so here's where I'm at now. I also tried to download and install the autorun eater and was unsuccessful. I did manage, after several failures to download it onto the hard drive, but when I attempt to run it from the box the dialogue box that pops up after the unzip, it fails. Any attempt to find the file through my start menu fails and crashes my computer. Additionally, both my browsers keep crashing on me now and it seems like the more i try to get into this thing, the more messed up I make it. I didn't bother trying to transfer the autorun eater from another computer because I wouldn't be able to access it anyway. I cannot view "my computer" from anywhere on the damaged machine. your thoughts?

Collapse -
safe mode not so safe
by eddiebigs / April 3, 2009 9:19 AM PDT

Ok Mark, so, I tried booting in safe mode to remove any potentially corrupt files from my desktop and the same thing happened in safe mode as it does in regular mode. I get the same error message which, when I close the error box I lose access to the desktop, or any folders or menus. However, when I leave the error box open and in the background, I can access my start menu, and certain programs (such as browsers) but still cannot view or access desktop. This true when I start the computer in normal mode as well.

Collapse -
If I was at the machine I would....
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 3, 2009 3:10 PM PDT

Start it in safe mode.

Then log on to XP Home's usual Administrator account and the very next thing I would do was to create a NEW USER ACCOUNT.

I'd log out, reboot and try that new account.

What I do next depends on how that helps or not.

Collapse -
in the meantime...
by eddiebigs / April 5, 2009 12:49 PM PDT

Ok, Mark, I'm going to try your suggestion tonight. In the meantime, may I ask, would it be easier if I just reinstalled my operating system? This is my laptop computer and I'm not all that certain i would be losing anything critical since my critical stuff is all on my desktop. What sorts of things would I lose if I reinstalled OS, and do you think that might be a good solution to this problem?


Collapse -
no access to adminstrative user account
by eddiebigs / April 5, 2009 1:00 PM PDT

Mr. Profitt, I am unable to log into the ADMIN account in safe mode. I get the same error message and have the same access problems as before. Cannot open control panel, or any other folder for that matter.

Your thoughts? (Again, thanks for your time and effort)


Collapse -
Tell me why you think...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 5, 2009 1:21 PM PDT

Tell me why you think you can't log onto the administrator account in safe mode?

It's its the password we can fix that with NTPASSWD (google that.)

Sadly we are fast reaching the point where the OS has been too damaged. Hope you can get your files out.

Collapse -
safe mode
by eddiebigs / April 5, 2009 3:07 PM PDT

OK, so, i boot up in safe mode, the options screen comes on, I select "boot in safe mode", another screen comes up with a bunch of lines of character strings (most containing the word "partition" if that means anything, and then, that screen disappears and I boot into Safe mode. At this point I can see the users screen. I have two users, me, my wife, and the ADMIN user. No matter which of these three I select, the user boots up in safe mode, and as soon as it's finished, the error box (same one "windows explorer has encountered an error") pops up. at which point I am unable to access control panel or any folders in safe mode.

I'm actually not that worried about lost files if we need to reinstall operating system. I have everything backed up that I need. Of course, I don't know how to reinstall the OS, but if you think this will help, i'm sure all I'll need is a starting point and I can go from there, unless it's more complicated than that. Do you think that will help?

Collapse -
by eddiebigs / April 5, 2009 3:09 PM PDT

oh, and PS, I'm not sure what you mean by a password problem, i have not been asked to enter one as of yet

Collapse -
I agree with Bob, and your own thinking
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / April 5, 2009 8:14 PM PDT
In reply to: PS

Perhaps it is time to start over.

You asked what you would lose with a re-install, and the answer is, 'everything'. The re-install would wipe the the Operating System off and replace it. Any personal files, any software you have installed yourself since getting this system, any settings such as email, ISP connection, any address books or contacts. All would go.

To give the re-install a better chance of working, most users would delete the existing partition where the OS is, and reformat it before re-installing

You may find it useful to prepare yourself first.

It's a Toshiba, so I assume it is an OEM system. OEM = Original Equipment Manufacture, where the manufacturer, in this case Toshiba, supplies the computer with the OS pre-installed, and usually with other 3rd party software also already installed. Computer manufacturers usually nowadays do not supply the XP CD install disk, preferring some other method, such as a hidden recovery partition on the hard disk. That partition can be accessed soon after the system is turned on, and will 'recover' the system to factory state.

Some older machines came with the XP CD and also a Drivers CD. In that case the user could do the re-install work themselves. That Drivers CD is vital. Windows will not work without drivers, such as motherboard drivers, hard drive drivers, (in the case of SATA drives), video card drivers, etc. If the hard drive is SATA, then the drivers are usually provided on a floppy disk, as these drivers need to be installed during the XP CD installation process.

If you have the XP CD, then you first need to confirm that the computer's BIOS will boot from the CD. If it does not, then you cannot use that CD to install the OS. For many that means accessing the BIOS soon after startup, and checking the Boot Order, to set the boot order so that the CD Drive is top of the list. Each computer make has different methods to access the BIOS.

That's why I suggested preparation. You may find it useful to check what CDs and floppy disks came with the computer if any. A visit to the Toshiba web site would help as their Support pages may provide a step by step guide to re-installing for your model make and number.

The site below, (two pages), helps with guidance on either a repair install or full re-install;

I hope that helps, and good luck.


Popular Forums
Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Help, my PC with Windows 10 won't shut down properly

Since upgrading to Windows 10 my computer won't shut down properly. I use the menu button shutdown and the screen goes blank, but the system does not fully shut down. The only way to get it to shut down is to hold the physical power button down till it shuts down. Any suggestions?