After rebooting my Windows 8.1 PC today, I tried to access my files through the "This PC" icon on the desktop, which basically loads Windows Explorer and shows an all-drives view. But every time I do so, the desktop would do a "flash" effect (all desktop icons disappearing for a moment, then returning) and no Explorer window appeared
. I tried under Task Manager to End Task, then Run "Explorer.exe" again, but to no avail.
It was time to check the Event Viewer logs
. I checked under "Windows Log", then System, but didn't see anything. Under Application logs
, I did find the error I was looking for:
Faulting application name: explorer.exe, version: 6.3.9600.17039, time stamp: 0x53156588
Faulting module name: DropboxExt64.22.dll, version: 22.214.171.124, time stamp: 0x522fb12c
Exception code: 0xc000041d
Fault offset: 0x0000000000008e77
Faulting process id: 0x1414
Faulting application start time: 0x01cf5b292abee54a
Faulting application path: C:\Windowsexplorer.exe
Faulting module path: C:\Users\David\AppData\Roaming\DropboxbinDropboxExt64.22.dll
Report Id: caca4ba1-c71c-11e3-be94-bc5ff44776ee
Faulting package full name:
Faulting package-relative application ID:
So the culprit was Dropbox. I went ahead and downloaded the latest Dropbox installer, ran it, but to no avail. I then proceeded to uninstall it, and even that did not work in terms of fixing the problem. Apparently this DropboxExt64.22.dll is still loaded as an extension, so restarting the PC will likely complete the removal process, including that DLL module. After re-booting, explorer came back and worked without a hitch. Hopefully this bug will be fixed by Dropbox in the near future so I can add it again to my computer.
For you, however, the program causing the crash is likely entirely different. So the proper steps I recommend in fixing this problem is:
- Try restarting the explorer.exe process or Windows entirely first
- If the issue persists, go to Control Panel, Administrative Tools, and select Event Viewer
- Open up "Windows Logs", then Application, and look for events that has red circle with a white exclamation mark in the middle
- Single-click on it, and if the first line shows "explorer.exe", you on on the right track
- The line underneath it should tell you the name of the DLL that caused explorer to crash
- Once you identified the software associated with the error, go ahead and see if an update is available for it. Otherwise, you will need to uninstall it.
- Restart Windows and the the crash should be a thing of the past. If it still happens, however, repeat steps 2 through 6.
Problems like this can be pretty frustrating, especially if you are pressed for time. But with the proper information (in this case looking in the extremely useful Event Viewer), you can troubleshoot, identify and then resolve.