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Thread: Explorer.exe does not load upon startup/login

  1. #1
    Kirk Guest

    Explorer.exe does not load upon startup/login

    Windows XP Pro SP2 on Win2k3 domain.
    Since January's updates/patches, I've got 4 computers that sometimes will
    not load explorer.exe upon reboot or login. All you see is the wallpaper.
    It is intermittant, and there are no errors in any logs or popups. If you
    launch Task Manager and start EXPLORER.EXE manually using "File, New Task
    (Run)", everything comes up as it should.
    This started on just 1 PC every couple of days, but is now on 4 and is
    happening at least once per day. Anyone else have this problem or know of a

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    I am experiencing the same issues, which seem to have happened after I recreated the Default Profile (roaming) this year in an attempt to clean it up. Now I get users (very) intermittently not auto-launching explorer... I also created new images on all of the computers, so that as well as the intermittent nature of the problem make it difficult to troubleshoot. Were you ever able to resolve the problem?

    I'm glad to see that I am not the only one fighting this. I guess I'll keep checking to see if someone solves it.

    has anyone tried useing the repair option on the os disk

    On one of the machines having the issue, I re-applied SP2.
    I have not had the Explorer.exe startup problem since doing so, but do get
    other various issues.
    Because of this, I'm concerned I may have negated some recent security
    patches but WSUS reports that the computer is fully patched.

    There is nothing in the logs that would indicate anything failing or even a
    A user can be logged in just fine and when I log them off, and log on myself
    (or another user) the desktop never initializes. Start explorer manually,
    and you're off an running.

    We don't use SMS or home directories and very little is even installed from
    a network share that would cause the pointers that you're experiencing.

  3. #3
    Bruce Sanderson Guest

    Re: Explorer.exe does not load upon startup/login

    I observered this problem also here. Your situation may be different, but
    here's what I found:

    1. in the Application Event Log , the following entries each time the
    computer was restarted:

    Source: MsiInstaller, Event ID: 11327, User:
    computer\SMSCliToknLocalAcct&, Description: Product: Sun Java2Runtime
    1.4.2_07 -- Error 1327. Invalid Drive: h:\
    Source: MsiInstaller, Event ID: 11327, User:
    computer\SMSCliToknLocalAcct&, Description: Product: IBM eGatherer 3.19.
    Invalid Drive: h:\

    2. in the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows
    NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList, I found the GUID for the user accounts:
    SMSCliToknLocalAcct& and SMSCliSvcAcct& - the Value "ProfileImagePath"
    inside the key for the GUID has the corresponding user account name
    e.g. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows
    has the content - %SystemDrive%\Documents and

    3. in the registry, the key
    Shell Folders had the content "h:\Faavorites" for Favorites and (in one
    case) Personal
    e.g. for teh SMSCliSvcAcct& user account, the key:
    Shell Folders
    had the value "Favorites" set to "h:\"

    4. I changed the value of Favorites to %USERPROFILE%\Favorites for the two
    SMS related accounts and, for one of them, Personal from h:\ to
    %USERPROFILE%\My Documents.

    5. restarted the computer

    This seems to have cured the problem - I'll post again if the problem
    re-appears. I no longer get the Application Event Log entries (1 above) and
    explorer starts automatically at logon. I've tried logging on and off with
    different domain user accounts (both members of the local Administrators
    group and not) and explorer started each time. I've also done a couple of
    restarts then tested logon again with success.

    I don't know exactly why, but, independently of the problem with explorer
    not starting at logon, I've observed that some application installation
    packages give the "Invalid drive: h:\" error and stop working if the
    Favorites special folder (or somtimes the My Documents special folder) is
    redirected to a network drive. In our logon script we map the drive letter
    h to the user's "Home Directory", redirect My Documents to h:\ and redirect
    Favorites to h:\Favorites. So, we observe this installation package failure
    frequently. The cure is to temporarily redirect the My Documents and
    Favorites back to the corresponding folders in the local copy of the user's

    I suspected that the SMS accounts acquired the settings for the User Shell
    Folders from the "Default User Profile" - I verified this in regedit by:

    1. click HKEY_USERS
    2. click File, Load Hive
    3. browse to c:\Documents and Settings\Default User
    4. select ntuser.dat; click Open
    5. key the name def
    6. navigate to
    HKEY_USERS\def\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell
    7. observe the content of the Values Favorites and Personal

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    I recently updated XP Home from SP1 to SP2, and installed IE 7.0 and Windows Defender. Everything seemed to be working normal. I left the computer on to autoupdate. When I got the next morning, I was suffering from the symptoms described in this thread. I also found this thread with the same discussion and lots of suggested fixes:

    I am unable to log on. The machine goes through a NT type log on screen asking for a password, which it never did before. It then goes to the desktop, but will not load any icons, nor am I able to call up the task manager with ctrl-alt-delete. Instead I get the following error message:

    "explorer.exe application error the application failed to initialize properly 0xc0150002 error code"

    I can boot in safe mode, but same results. I can boot in safe mode with the cmd prompt and I have tried all of the fixes listed in the above referenced thread with no success. Here is what happened:

    1. Used system restore from the cmd prompt, but it did not help, no change to the activity
    2. Tried to uninstall SP2 from the add/remove panel called up via appwiz.cpl while in safe mode cmd prompt screen. It fails with the message "windows could not load the installer for disk drive"
    3. I tried to rename the files in the C:\winnt\system32 directory, but when I enter that in the command prompt it says the path is invalid
    4. I do not have the Google desktop, but I do have the Google toolbar installed. However, when I try to remove it via the add/remove programs panel, it does nothing. Screen flashes, but no activity occurs.
    5. I can call up the windows directory and it shows the KB923191 update was installed. When I tried to run the commands suggested relative to $ntuninstallerkb923191$, I get various messages that the path is not valid or the file can not be found. In the add/remove programs panel, it says that this update can not be uninstalled.

    According to the log in the win directory, KB923191 was installed when I did all of the remaining critical updates after the install of SP2. The machine was running fine afterward but I left it on to be sure Windows Defender would run and update overnight. Auto update was also engaged. When I got up the next morning and checked the machine, I found it in the state discribed above.

    When I boot up in safe mode with cmd prompt, the prompt reads as follows: C:\Documents & Settings\Mary Brown.Mary> where Mary Brown is the users name. I am assuming that I enter all commands after the > in this string. I try to enter them with the C:\ prefix followed by the command, and with just the command alone, but they all fail except for the two related to the add/remove panel and the restore commands.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? I read the posting at andrewsworld about replacing two files

    but I am not sure if this would help or even how to do this, I would need more detailed instructions. thanks

    anybody have a suggestion?

    I have pretty much given up. I went ahead and did a full XP soft restore from the Compaq restore disc that came with the computer, but it did not fix the problem. It takes a long time for the computer to boot up, and it still forces you to use the NT style log in screen, which it did not do when purchased or prior to the SP2 download. I did not get the exeplorer.exe notice and I did get a desktop with icons. But I did get a tfswctrl.exe failure message wtih a reference to the same error code. The desktop does not display anything in the task bar at the bottom. Right clicking on the bar area and then clicking Task Manager in the drop down menu does nothing, nor does it do anything when you use ctrl-alt-dlt. Since there is no start button and I can not get a task manager up, I can not turn the computer off other than using the front power button. Some programs will load but very slow. I have no idea what is running as I can not call up the task manager.

    I guess I will do a hard restore and reformat the hard drive.

    I did a complete hard reinstall of the system and formatted the hard drive. As soon as I loaded the wireless adaptor, I logged on and downloaded SP2, IE7 and Defender and all of the updates. Then I installed MS Office and downloaded all updates for it. Everythign appears to be normal. Not much else to do, as a soft reset did not work. Must have been some code in the data somewhere, since the soft reset replaced the operating system and removed all programs installed since purchase. All it saved was data files, like word documents and pictures. But that did not clear up the porblem, so I had to completely wipe the hard drive and start clean.

    Good luck.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    i have the same problem since 2 days ago.
    at first, it seems it is occuring everytime i boot.
    yet later,it became haphazardly,but most of the time,
    explorer won't load and i have to manually load it from task manager.
    moreover,i can't run explorer,control panel,internet explorer,
    but i can run other softwares.
    i don't want to format the disk as i have so much information on my disk.
    so i will search for more info.
    i think i had a browser hijack before this happens.
    my system restore was resetted.
    n my browser was hijack to some website where they are trying to sell me
    winsecurity or something but i can't find that website again.
    i m using nod32 and i scanned the system
    it found nothing
    n i can't load def...ntuser.dat in registry
    too bad.

    moreover,after i manually load explorer,
    if i try to run explorer or internet explorer,
    my machine crawls to a snail

    and after i manually loaded explorer,
    there are a number of occurences of dwwin.exe and drwatson in the task manager lists

    i don't know if i can help other people having the same symptoms.
    well,my problem is solved now.
    i just downloaded the autoruns.exe from sysinternals.
    that soft is pretty good.
    it just shows up a lot of info on startup programs.
    n there,
    i found that there are certain entries under many categories including
    explorer and internet explorer.
    it seems like those entries are put there by some spyware or adware since the entries are like random characters and when i search for those entries in google,i can't find anything.
    and nod32 didn't find anything suspicious on my harddisk after i scanned.
    so i figure that if any respectable software developer put those values in the autorun,they must also be searchable in google.
    so i just disable those entries and reload,
    then shazaam,the explorer no longer has any problem at all as well as internet explorer.
    but i found some entries in the autoruns which shows file not found.
    so i also disable these entries since i recons that if file is not found but the computer is running somehow so i think that they are not really that important and since they are not found anyway,i also disable them again.
    now my system is back online without the need to reformat.
    i also found that my rundll32.exe was hijacked because it has a command line to some files which when i searched on google regarded as a spyware so that i can disabled that entry in autoruns and registry as well.
    but my nod32 found isass.dll from time to time even though i can't find it in registry or harddsik.anyway,i think it is fine as long as nod32 can find it which means that it can't do much and whenever the nod32 found the isass,i run the autoruns to check new entries,n i found one new random character entry in autoruns and disabled it.i can't find any physical spyware or adware yet i think that is ok as long as i don't have to format my hdd.
    i hope that this info can be useful to people out there who can't load explorer or internet explorer.i hope that they can find this forum and this autoruns.exe from sysinternal because i have been so desperate when blank or nothing shows up on my screen when i boot and have to run windows explorer from task manager.i am putting in more keywords here so that people can find this forum discussion by googling.

    -explorer not load automatically at startup boot
    -blank screen on boot startup
    -desktop doesn't load
    -blank or black desktop
    -cannot run use windows explorer and/or internet explorer
    -have to run windows explorer from task manager
    -cannot open windwos explorer
    -cannot open control panel
    -cannot run programs

    the best advice from me would be
    -use decent antivirus like nod32 or bitdefender but still they can't find some exe which were packed using custom made packers
    -use at least one process explorer or task manager which can show u the commandline and exe location so that u can find out more about a running process
    -i prefer to run diamond cs process guard and regdefend from gss whenever i m going to run some suspicious exe after being scanned by nod32
    -you will need unlocker.exe if u want to delete some running process or dlls which are found guilty after being searched in google has many applications for u,check out their page
    -have some startup manager like autoruns for power users and tuneup utilities for normal users
    -use alternate browsers like firefox or opera apart from internet explorer or at least install them so that u can use them when ur ie is hijacked
    -use or at least install some explorer-like software like foldersizes or whatever application that will give u access to ur files to be able to search or delete some files in case u cannot run windows explorer
    -it will be good to have some port to program mapper which will show u what programs on ur box is connecting to which site,for this u can use diamond cs port explorer or any sniffer or omnipeek or colasoft capsa or other less technical softwares from sysinternal namely tcpview
    -i included sniffers because sniffers will show u what other port monitoring softwares won't b able to show u since these port monitor will show u realtime data and u will have to strained ur eyes to see if the spyware only connect for a short time and then time out but sniffer will show u a captured stream and u can even filter certain ip address to get more detailed info
    these tips will be helpful to u if u r a program junky or a download monger like me.
    it would be a great pleasure for me if i can help someone before reformatting their harddrive.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Is everyone here experiencing the problem on a domain? I am having this problem with our Lenovo T6x line of laptops when they are joined to the domain. Myself and some other engineers have traced this issue to being with the Scripts that go off at startup (or at least that's our best guess at this point). I am curious if everyone else is experiencing the problem on the domain because I've done some severe testing and found that before the machine is profiled to the domain, the issue NEVER happens. I did over 300 reboots of my T61 with a fresh image, with all updates, hotfixes, and drivers, and never once had the "explorer.exe not loading" issue happen. As soon as I joined it to the domain, the issue happened within 5 reboots, and then every ten or so reboots after that. The fact that it doesn't happen until it was joined to the domain was why I never saw the issue when I was building the image and didn't realize it was a problem.

    As part of my testing, I turned off all startup items and all drivers. However the problem still happened. I tried joining the default Lenovo image to the domain, and the problem also happened.

    Then I checked the startup procedures using Autoruns from systinternals. Explorer.exe (the shell) loads with the rest of the startup procedures. The only item that happens before this is execution of .vbs scripts passed down from Group Policy on the domain. I had the engineers take me out of my usual group on the domain and put me into a special group that does not have any scripts that run. I re-profiled with those group policies and BAM - the problem DISAPPEARED.

    I asked to be put back into a group with scripts and once agian, within ten reboots, the problem appeared.

    Thus I feel that this has something to do with a script problem on our domain, I wonder if everyone else's experience is similar. This issue is a major headache for our users and I've been trying to solve it for weeks. However I can't find any logged errors of scripts not running or anything else so I am stumped as to where the problem is occurring. I know that it doesn't happen when scripts aren't run, but I don't know what's wrong with our scripts. Our scripts do the same thing as listed in the first couple posts, they map network drives.

    I don't know if this information helps or complicates anything...

    No, I think that it is related to the hardware in the machine and the scripts that are running. We have several machines at our offices:

    HP/Compaq 510s
    HP/Compaq 530
    HP/Compaq 5100
    HP/Compaq 5700

    Toshiba Portege M400 Tablet
    Lenovo T61
    Lenovo T60
    Lenovo X61s
    Lenovo X60
    IBM T40
    Dell XPS M1330

    I have built the images for all of those machines. The images are nearly identical, and are identical in terms of hotfixes and updates. However, only the Lenovo T60, T61, and Dell XPS M1330 have this issue. All other models have been tested and NEVER have the explorer.exe does not load issue. This leads me to believe that it is not a hotfix or update.

  7. #7
    npage1 Guest
    I was having the same problem with on of my t60's and even after tw
    rebuilds was seeing the same issue, we also do run a login script and
    was thinking it might be the issue, just for the heck of it I installe
    XPsp3 and it worked

    I was able to get 50 start-ups with absolutly no issues at all and i
    fact it looked like it was running faster

    If possible, please try installing XPsp3 and let me know if that fixe
    your problem.

    My school district has same setup and problems as you. Started happening
    after we installed NetOps on our labs and removed Altiris Vision 5.0 (curious
    if you have similar applications running.)

    We have multiple labs, at multiple school sites on multiple hardware having
    the same explorer error as what is listed here. Some labs have SP2 and couple
    have SP3 (but both have same issue, so I don't think it's Service Pack
    related) Think it may be NetOps on my lab that messed it up, and we also run
    Deep Freeze on all these PC's to prevent changes by the students.

    What we've noticed so far is that if you login and manually run explorer.exe
    then logoff or reboot the pc it will work for that user, atleast it appears
    too. But if you change users to a new one that doens't have a profile on th
    pc, then it will do it again.

    We're currently checking login scripts to see if any of our policies or reg
    keys got corrupted. But we're still unsure.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    I was having this same problem (on 3 separate machines), but found a solution that worked for me. Here's what I was running with:

    Windows XP Professional Version 2002 SP3
    Dell Optiplex 755 w/ Intel Core2 Duo
    Windows 2000 domain in mixed mode

    Explorer would stop launching correctly after connecting to the domain and rebooting a few times. It could still be launched manually through the Task Manager.

    For me, it turns out that the drivers for my Dell 1450 wireless USB adapter was causing the issues. There's a little blurb in the readme mentioning how the update is not recommended "on computers which have replaced the Microsoft Graphical Identification and Authentication (GINA) Logon screen for network logon." I didn't believe that had been modified, but it seemed suspicious. I hadn't even finished uninstalling the drivers and Explorer unhung and launched itself. It's worked fine since then.

    Here's the version of the driver: v.I8.1.50,CM2.03.17,DR3.3.34, A06
    It's packaged in self-extracting .exe labeled R114876.EXE

    I have 24 Dell laptops and 9 Dell desktops at work, all running XP Home (Home was not my choice). The laptops all refused to start explorer.exe and had to be started manually most, but not all, of the time. Wracking my brains for what could have been different, I didn't think of the wireless card (although I should have--the WLAN driver has caused endless trouble on a friend's Compaq laptop).

    Once I replaced the current driver with an older version, the explorer problem went away on my test computer. Hopefully it will never return and I can apply the solution to my whole flock of laptops.

    And the problem only appears once this certain user is logging in with the network cable connected.

    After my computer logs on only the wallpaper and mouse appear. Nothing else. I open task manager and try to open explorer.exe from there but it says that i do not have permission to open this file. I can run all my programs by opening them from the task manager but i can't open explorer.exe!!!!!!! I don't want to lose all the data on my hard drive. Someone help me....

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    My PC also seems to have this problem along with another problem.

    1st problem is explorer does not start in normal mode. I tried doing it manually(via task manager) but nothing happens. Everything works great in Safe Mode.

    Problem #2 is when I do get explorer to work in normal mode, my keyboard acts weird. It works slower ad skips alot, meaning I have to keep pressing the same key several times to get it to work and it seems to happen on only certain keys and the space bar. It works perfectly fine in Safe Mode.

    As for problem #1 and you wondering how I get it to work sometimes, well, while it is starting up I click on the My Computer Icon while the PC is starting up and before everything has actually started up.

    After a while Explorer disappears and I can then get it back manually with Task Manager.

    I am on a home network and this PC is running Windows XP Professional Version 2002 with SP3. The other PC is running Vista 64.

    Has anybody found a sure fire fix for Problem #1? I notice some people have had large networks with different fixes.

    My router is from TMobile and I never had any problem with it before. I recently had a virus(Vundo) and removed it but I'm wondering if it still has some type of lingering effects on my PC.

    I will try the unhooking the network cable solution that was suggested and get back with you to see if that worked.

    So I restarted my PC with the network cable disconnected and explorer worked fine so what does this mean? Does my network card driver need an update or set back to a previous driver?

    Problem #2 still exists as well.

    I tried logging on and then hitting th F8 key and then we asked I tried logging on to "Last time Windows was working" Or something like that....don't quite remember since it's been a while...maybe you have to be white to get a real reply around here but it helped solve the explorer probem but my IE ran very slow. I attribute that to CAISS, though.

    Anyhow, try restarting and as soon as you get anything on your screen, keep hitting the F8 key until you get black screen with a few options asking you where you ant to start and choose, "Last working" etc...something like that.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    My problem is, after i tried to install Tiger Milk Mac Transformation pack,
    nothing is loaded except the blank desktop. No explorer, no icons, no start menu bar etc..
    so i tried to uninstall it and the problem still remained.
    i have no system restore point. I already tried repair window and nothing worked out.
    i can manually load explorer.exe, but only an explorer is open and still no start menu no icons.
    I have to do that every time windows start up.
    I have been looking for an solution to solve this.
    If u guys know something, could u help me out?
    I have been trying any solution that i came across now (Fixing registries). But still not OK.

    I ended opening a new user account and it solved.
    Anyway Thx very much

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Re: Explorer.exe does not load upon startup/login

    Explorer not start windows log on:

    Just follow the step:

    Start>run>regedit enter
    Go to below line:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
    Make sure that nothing to be there except below lines:

    Shell Explorer.exe

    Userinit X:\Windows\system32\userinit.exe
    X is your windows drive C or D ..

    Exit and resrtar your system:

    Just shout and say <I have done it> after your problem is solved !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I had the same problem and came across your post but in vain.

    No more problem now.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Re: Explorer.exe does not load upon startup/login

    I had similar problem all of a sudden with an administrator account on a quite freshly installed Windows XP Pro x64 on a HP G62. I couldn't identify any specific cause for that problem...

    - Only with that account, others were fine
    - Taskbar and icons wouldn't show at startup (on every boot)
    - explorer.exe was visible in the task manager
    - manually starting explorer.exe didn't work
    - killing it and restarting it wouldn't help
    - login out and in again would finally make Windows Explorer work; but quite annoying to log in, out and in again!

    I've looked around for a few solutions on forums that didn't work for me. I finally figured out this quick fix that worked for me; hopefully it can help someone else...

    - Go to Control Panel > User Accounts > Change the way user log on and off
    - Toggle "Use the Welcome screen" then Apply
    - Reboot
    - Start over again

    (Note: I already had (and left) "Use Fast User Switching" disabled on my system)

    At the first reboot the taskbar showed fine, and at the second reboot all was back to normal for me.

    I guess the Welcome screen setting were rewritten into the registry, fixing the issue.

    Please let others know if that worked for you!

  13. #13
    P.A. Toot Guest

    Re: Sorry about messy posting

    Replying to a post from Feb 07?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2012

    Re: Explorer.exe does not load upon startup/login

    Ok thought I would add my 2cents to this as this has just killed
    My computer for 30mins

    Not sure what caused it but the solution was to add permissions on the windows dir

    Only way to access the correct window was
    Navigate to root dir
    Right Click windows dir
    Close browse window
    Close new task window(run)
    Move task manager
    Click security tab of windows properties
    Add full control to power users, users and system

    I am the only user I have an administrator account so no big deal

    I suspect a service was halting the logon sequence due to insufficient privileges

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2012

    Re: Explorer.exe does not load upon startup/login

    I had a similar problem.....XP suddenly quit loading the icons and the desktop on startup...It was incredibly slow to start up, and it would ONLY show the desktop if I used task manager and dropped processes one by one.

    I agree with "thesexiestguy", that SysInternal's utility "autoruns.exe" was the key. I found a few bogus processes running, like something from "WeOnlyDo!.com" and unchecked them. Also unchecked anything that said "Missing File"....Now, the startup is fast and the desktop icons appear, and I don't have to use task manager to drop processes. "Autoruns" actually showed processes that were NOT listed under Task Manager. It's a great tool.

    Also, this started happening when I got some kind of hijack that affected the bios and Explorer a few weeks ago. Weird things were happening, like Ctrl-C would not work, etc. The keyboard would lock up (not a hardware problem). I ran scannow to repair XP SP3 and that seemed to help a bit, but that's also when the desktop icons quit appearing on startup, after I rebooted 3 times.

    Even if you don't use "Autoruns" to cut the processes, at least run it to see what truly is running behind the scenes. It'll now be a necessary tool on any of our PC's!

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