Ask Leo: What do I do when Windows Explorer crashes?

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By Leo Notenboom

Windows Explorer keeps crashing on me. Sometimes, all that I need to do is open a folder in it, and *poof* – it’s toast. Why? And what do I do?

And to be clear, I’m talking about Windows Explorer – not Internet Explorer.

Windows Explorer is a very special program. In many ways, it “is Windows”, in that it’s actually the program that’s responsible for displaying the task bar, the Start menu, the task-switcher, and a fair amount more.

Oh, and it’s also the program that you can use to browse around your hard disk to look at files and folders.

It’s definitely completely unrelated to Internet Explorer, but there is one characteristic that they share that can cause the kinds of problems you’re seeing.

They can both be extended.

When Windows Explorer dies

You may have noticed that when Windows Explorer dies, in some cases it takes the Windows taskbar and Start menu with it. As I mentioned, that’s because those are actually displayed by Windows Explorer.

Normally, when that happens and the base instance of Windows Explorer dies, other components of Windows are supposed to notice and start it up automatically again. That’s why you might see the taskbar disappear and then reappear after a few seconds.

Sometimes, that doesn’t happen. In that case, you can typically type CTRL+ALT+DEL and start the Windows Task manager, and then click the File menu followed by Run, or click the New Task… button:

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This post is excerpted with Leo’s permission from his blog.

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