explorer.exe has generated errors


C

Cranky Frankie

Hello, I'm getting the "explorer.exe has generated errors, a log file
will be produced error" on a Windows 2000 SP4 Dell. The MS KB articles
talk about removing Norton Clean Sweep but I don't have that program
installed. All my virus programs and ad programs come up clean.

This is my kid's computer and the have AOL IM and some file sharing
programs on it. I don't remember ever having this problem before these
programs were installed. Unfortunatley, I don't have msconfig to
disable startup programs to see if it doing this stops the error.

At times the errors come one right after the other. You click OK, the
desktop goes blank, then refreshes, and you are OK until the error box
comes up again, maybe a minute later. The Dr. Watson log file got up to
83 meg before I deleted it. The error came again, of course - here's
the beginning of the Dr. Watson log file:


Microsoft (R) Windows 2000 (TM) Version 5.00 DrWtsn32
Copyright (C) 1985-1999 Microsoft Corp. All rights reserved.

Application exception occurred:
App: explorer.exe (pid=860)
When: 12/29/2005 @ 17:32:31.872
Exception number: c0000005 (access violation)


Does this ring a bell?

I tried putting my original W2K disk in for a reinstall but since I'm
up to SP4 it won't let me do a reinstall without wiping everything out.
Ouch. I'm trying to avoid that.

Any info will be really appreciated.
 
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Hi Frankie:

I've been struggling with the same problem this past week. We did a machine shuffle here and I got a "new" machine and so I did a low-level format on all the drives (SCSI, the Adaptec BIOS allows access to that function), so there is no possibility that a boot sector virus could have survived. I did a clean install of Windows 2000, applied SP-4, went online with Windows update and applied the other required and suggested hot-fixes and patches. I started installing software, but decided I didn't really need or want .NET, so I tried to remove those patches. While I was installing more software, Windows Explorer crashed with a c0000005 error, it fact, it started crashing a lot. I had three drives and two folders from our Windows 2000 Servers mapped as drive letters, and I had the three drives from the old machine (the one being replaced) mapped as more drive letters. Because my first explorer.exe crash occoured when I clicked on one of these mapped folders, I wondered if all the mappings acted as some sort of trigger.

I did some investigation, but I wasn't sure if it was a Microsoft problem, or a registry hack problem, or something else--so I did another low-level format of drive C and started over.

I installed Windows 2000, SP-4, the post-SP-4 rollup, then hopped online with Windows update and applied all the required and many of the suggested hot-fixes and other patches (leaving out .NET this time). I started installing applications and ran into a minor problem with the installation of the 7.04 patch for Paint Shop Pro 7 when it complained about not being able to replace a DLL. Shortly after that I experienced another explorer.exe crash with the c0000005 error code. At that point I'd moved all my personal files off the server and onto my physical drive E, and because the new machine was not fully setup, I'd mapped my personal folder back to the old machine--so My Documents on both machines pointed to the same files. Thinking that having two machines with a shared My Documents might be a problem, I logged off and shut down the old machine.

All's been quiet for the last two days, until I just now when I went to check the rev numbers on explorer.exe--then it abruptly crashed, same error code. It seems if I launch Explorer through My Documents rather than throuigh My Computer, it's a bit less likely to crash. Doing some research on this, I'd found where someone suggested to disable FastFind to reduce the number of crashes. Reducing the number of mapped drives seems to reduce the frequency of crashing too. Currently I don't have any anti-spyware or anti-virus programs installed or running--just an external firewall. So we can't blame the anti-software for the crashes.

Here's a screen shot of Search Results, over which I've written the rev numbers of each file. You can see that 5.0.2920.0 came on the Windows 2000 CD, but was overwritten by 5.0.3700.6690 with SP-4. I don't know if rolling back to old version would clear this up.




Someone suggested that ntdll.dll was used by explorer.exe and could be the cause of the problems. Here's a screen shot of Search Results with rev numbers by each file (sheesh, what an ugly font). The original was replaced by SP-4, which in turn was replaced by a rollup version. I don't even know if this DLL might be related to the problem.




I've been using Windows NT since February of 1995 and it has been rock solid for me. About the only problems I've had have been due to: a hardware failure, a boot sector virus, and bad drivers. Stuff like Windows Explorer NEVER CRASHES. This is completely unacceptable. I don't want to reduce the crashing, I want to eliminate it.

Frankie, since your post is relatively new, I thought I'd post and let you know that you're not alone. I'll continue to investigate this problem and if I come up with a solution I'll post it. Meanwhile, if anyone else has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Scotty
 
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ScottyDM,
I suggest you use Memtest86+ to test your system memory. This program creates a bootable diskette and cannot be read by DOS or NTFS utilities.
It's also possible the SCSI card has an intermittent memory bit.
Since c0000005 errors point to conflicts in memory, I'd say on a newly formatted and installed drive I'd bet you have a hardware problem.

CrankyFrankie,
In your case, I would also test the memory, but I feel your problems lie in software conflicts and I would not be surprised one bit if you did a thorough scan and cleanup of spyware/adware/junk, using at least 3 different programs for that purpose and find out that, your system is infected.

Just for the record, those conflicts in memory (something is expected...but something else is provided) could be hardware based and/or software based.
 
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Well I've let this lie dormant for far too long. The good news is that I identified the problem and the solution and now my system is 100% functional.

While the c0000005 error is a memory conflict, I don't believe this was a hardware problem. The main reason was that it only affected one program and it seemed to be patch dependent--that is it worked at 100% until I installed something, then it was like flipping a light switch and that one program would crash within 20 seconds of opening it.

The first thing I did was to start uninstalling patches. I didn't do them in the proper order, but eventually I had a stable explorer.exe--except that parts of Windows 2000 were not displaying properly. This was actually good news as it meant the explorer.exe problem was patch dependent. I blamed the broken bits of the OS to be due to my sloppy uninstallation methods.

I did another low-level format and started again from scratch. I installed an old copy of Windows 2000 Pro without any service packs, then I installed SP-4, and finally I logged onto the MS update website. I did not select the Express option, but the Custom.

Once inside Windows Update I carefully reviewed the high-priority and the optional updates, hid the optional updates I didn't want, then checked the release dates. I started running the updates in small batches selected for their release dates--that is, I ran all the high-priority and optional updates that were released in the same month. My theory was that before I'd run all the high priority updates first, then the optional, and an old optional update was not compatible with one of the latest high-priority updates.

After each small batch of updates I'd reboot and test explorer.exe. After many cycles I finished with no problems. I did a backup of drive C to tape and started installing apps.

After several days I realized I'd need my FTP client so I installed it just as I always had--with all the options. Shortly after installing the FTP client I ran explorer.exe and it promptly crashed! It was the FTP client--a nearly 3-year-old copy of WS_FTP Pro.

I uninstalled the FTP client and explorer.exe was fine again. (Actually, I tested it several times and the crashing was very consistent.) There were two optional components of this old copy of WS_FTP Pro that seemed like they might be a problem: The first is integration with Windows Explorer (explorer.exe) and the other is integration with Internet Explorer. I remembered that on the MS support site there was an article about an old version of IE causing explorer.exe to crash with a c0000005 error. The solution was to upgrade IE to v4.x something. Apparently IE is so deeply intertwingled with Windows that parts of it can effect the stability of Windows (including explorer.exe). Because I'd not really used either of these features of WS_FTP Pro before, I reinstalled it without those features and my system has been fine.

I don't think WS_FTP Pro is necessarily bad. I think that installing an old copy of WS_FTP Pro on top of the latest Windows patches is bad. I suspect that these integration options will replace a few of Window's DLLs and you end up with a combination of DLLs that's not stable. I'd bet if I'd installed that old copy of WS_FTP Pro before I started installing the patches, everything would work.

Potentially, it's not just one bad app. UltraEdit32, WinZIP, and Winamp all integrate themselves with Windows Explorer by adding items to the right-click menu. dBpowerAMP integrates itself with Windows Explorer so that you get extra function when you hover the pointer over a music file. And there are numerous tool bars and Internet geegaws that will integrate themselves with Internet Explorer. And that's just the stuff we install on purpose. What about spyware? I guess the lesson is to be careful and test when mixing new OS patches and old apps that like to insert their code into the OS.

Anyway, it's done. It's stable. I'm happy.

Scotty
 
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Great to hear you have solved the problem, Scotty!
Your problem in a previous post seemed random so memory was suspect, but I was wrong on this one.

Very nice explanation too, level-headed and logical.

Thanks for sharing the results.
 

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