Feb 14th 2007 Windows Updates Crash explorer.exe – How to Fix It

Update: This post is incomplete, and I recommend you see the updated post for a permanent fix.

On Valentine’s Day of 2007, Microsoft released a slew of critical updates to fix 20 vulnerabilities in its phenomenally secure operating system, Windows XP.

It has been reported by many individuals and organizations that these updates have been causing problems such as crashing of Windows. I, too, had these problems on my Dell Latitude D820 (a laptop I love, btw). Below is how I fixed it.

First, the symptoms: Windows XP starts up fine, but once you log in, explorer.exe immediately crashes. At this point, two things may happen.

  1. You are a geek like me and have Microsoft Visual Studio, whose just-in-time debugger pops up and catches the crash. While ignoring the crash prompts, you can actually use the menus of Windows. If you exit out of the Visual Studio prompts, your start bar then disappears. This is what happens to most people —
  2. You are sitting at a blank screen looking at your background with no start bar, no start button, and no desktop images. In other words, things are looking hosed.

So here’s what to do:

  1. Hit ctrl-alt-del and click on the task manager. When it comes up, click on the File menu >> New Task (run…).
  2. At this point, we might as well see if this was just a one-time crash. Enter explorer.exe and hit OK. It crashes again. Damn.
  3. Now is a good time to go to System Restore and go back to your last known good safe point. Start up the computer and enter Safe Mode by pressing F8. It will then tell you that you’re in Safe Mode and you can hit a button to get to system restore. Go back, and all is well.

    That is, unless you’re like me, and your system restore is disabled…

  4. I now want to check the rest of the Windows Updates to see that I have everything. Get out of Safe Mode and back into Normal Mode. Run another task in the task manager, but this time enter iexplore.exe to start up MS Internet Explorer (note: This is the only time I’ll ever tell anyone to use MSIE over Firefox. Savor it)
  5. Tools >> Windows Update. Get all updates and reboot. No help for me. I go back into Windows Update and notice that one security update is not installing. This could be part of the problem, but of course MS gives you no useful error message.
  6. Plan B. Uninstall Service Pack 2. I’d love to uninstall the actual Windows Updates, but they’re not listed for uninstallation anywhere. Nice. So let’s get rid of SP2. To do this, you’ll need to get into your Control Panel, which of course you can’t do because your Start Button is fubar. Have no fear, go back into the Task Manager and run appwiz.cpl. Remove Windows XP Service Pack 2.
  7. Reboot. You now recognize that your day is going horribly and that you’re not getting any work done when you see a blue screen of death (don’t worry, your day will get worse too): NMI Parity Check / Memory Parity Error
  8. Go back to Safe Mode. I know my memory is fine. At this point, I was ready to start uninstalling drivers one at a time through the control panel. I choose the most likely culprit – NVidia Drivers.
  9. Reboot. Windows starts, and we’re back in business, albeit in Service Pack 1. Get your networking going, and re-download and install Windows XP Service Pack 2. This all takes a while.
  10. Reboot. Back in business in SP2! Download and reinstall your video drivers if you had the same blue screen of death as I did
  11. Plan C, in case you can’t uninstall Windows XP Service Pack 2 (it may have come bundled with your machine’s OS, I’m not sure) – get a Windows XP CD and perform a repair. I didn’t have to do this.

I am not responsible for anything that happens to your computer, and your mileage may vary.

In other news, a girl I had plans to go on a date with bailed because I “didn’t call to confirm the date yesterday”. So naturally, she pushed her workout plans back to the time of the date, and those workout plans are evidently irreversible. I’d expect no less from a girl from LA that I met at a bar. I’ll stick with meeting friends-of-friends from now on.

And this is why I prefer to use Linux and hang with girls from the Midwest. Far less bullshit once you figure ’em out.

As for the rest of you, get a Mac.

Posted in by Berto.

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