Fix: Windows explorer crashes or freezes

The Windows Explorer or the File Explorer in the Windows operating system, helps us browse our files, folders and other data on our computer. You may face a problem at some point of time when you find that your Windows Explorer crashes or freezes frequently. Additionally, you may also receive the following message:

Windows Explorer has stopped working

Windows Explorer Has Stopped Working Fix: Windows explorer crashes or freezes

This tutorial includes some troubleshooting steps that will help you address the Windows Explorer crashing or freezing issues. Quite possibly its one of your installed programs which may be interfering with the smooth functioning of explorer.exe. You may have to try them all. Hopefully one of the suggestions should help you. If an option doesn’t help you, you may want to restore it back to its default, where applicable & possible.

Windows Explorer crashes or freezes

1) First and foremost ensure that your Windows is up-to-date, and all Windows Updates have been installed. Next scan your computer for malware. If you have bought a new Windows 8 or Windows 7 laptop, maybe some pre-installed craplets are interfering with explorer.exe. Remove unwanted trialware and de-crapify your machine then.

2) See if you a System Restore makes the problem go away.

3) Run Check Disk.

4) Disable the Preview Pane in Windows Explorer and see if it helps. To disable the Preview Pane, click Organize > Layout > Preview Pane.

5) Disable Thumbnails and see if this stops the problem. To do so, open Folder Options > View tab > Check  Always show Icons, never thumbnail. Also remove the check for the option to Display file icon on thumbnails. Click Apply/OK.

6) If you are running Windows Vista, disable UAC temporarily and see if it helps.

7) Disable DEP or NoExecute Protection. Do note that Data Execution Prevention (DEP) is a security feature that can help prevent damage to your computer from viruses and other security threats. Harmful programs can try to attack Windows by attempting to run (also known as execute) code from system memory locations reserved for Windows and other authorized programs. These types of attacks can harm your programs and files. DEP can help protect your computer by monitoring your programs to make sure that they use system memory safely. If DEP notices a program on your computer using memory incorrectly, it closes the program and notifies you.

To do so, Run command prompt as Administrator. Then copy paste the following and hit Enter:

bcdedit.exe /set {current} nx AlwaysOff

This has been known to help in Windows Vista.

8) Launch the folder windows in a separate process and see if it helps. To do so, open Explorer. Click Organize > Folder & Search Options > View > Advanced Settings > Check ‘Launch folder windows in a separate process’ > Apply > OK.

9) Installed Add-ons are usually the culprit! Check if you have installed any helpers or add-ons to your explorer. Uninstall or disable them. Often, even 3rd-party shell extensions can cause Explorer to crash on particular actions. Several programs add items to the right-click context menu. To see them in detail, you may download the freeware utility ShellExView.

shellxv Fix: Windows explorer crashes or freezes

It will let you view & disable suspect 3rd party shell extensions. Using trial & error method, you may to disable / enable the extensions to try and identify if any of them are causing a problem. ShellExView can be also be used for solving context menu problems in Explorer, like, say, if the right-click is slow.

10) Run sfc /scannow and at the end reboot if the system file checker asks for it. The System File Checker will on reboot, replace corrupt system files, if any are found.

11) Type wercon in your Start Menu Search bar and hit enter to open the Problem Reports & Solutions Center. In the right side panel, click on View Problem History and navigate to where the problems for Explorer.exe may be mentioned. Double-click on the report to open it and see if anything there helps you.

12) Outdated or corrupt video drivers can cause Windows Explorer to stop working. Update your drivers and see if it helps.

13) Start your Windows in Safe Mode and see if you can recreate the problem. If the problem has disappeared, then it’s probably some startup program which is interfering with the smooth functioning of Explorer. Perform a clean boot and try to troubleshoot and identify the offending program.

14) Run the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool to check for possible memory problems, including testing of  the Random Access Memory (RAM) on your computer.

If something helped you, do let us know what did.

These Explorer related fixes may also interest you:

  1. Windows Explorer Crashes in a particular Video folder in Windows
  2. Explorer, Office, Movie Maker crashes in Windows
  3. Explorer crashes when performing any taskbar operations in Windows.

If your Windows Explorer crashes randomly in Windows 7 or in Windows Server 2008 R2 in a network environment, apply this hotfix from KB2638018. Also see if KB930092 and KB931702 pertaining to Explorer crashes apply to you. You can also open a Support Request at Microsoft or visit our TWC Forums if you need additional help.

Fix Freezes or Crashes with these resources from The Windows Club:

Windows freezes | Windows Explorer crashes  | Internet Explorer freezes| Google Chrome Browser crashes | Mozilla Firefox Browser freezing | Windows Media Player freezes | Computer hardware freezes.

Post ported from WinVistaClub, updated and posted here.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse aka HappyAndyK is an end-user Windows enthusiast, a Microsoft MVP in Windows, since 2006, and the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com. Please create a System Restore Point before trying out any software & be careful about any third-party offers while installing freeware. Add me on Google+.
  • 30yrsand$2trillionlater-bugs

    Explorer stall can also be usb drives on short powerdown. Context menus or aliased files and directories – like Documents can stall or hang as the drives boot up, or fail to. Persistent problems can sometimes be fixed by changing the powerdown or running a Keep Alive Timer program that periodically touches the drives that don’t allow it. The larger later drives 1+TB tend to have shorter powerdowns particularly when system is on battery..

  • Ben

    This totally helped me. Every time I would open a folder with lots of thumbnail images and scroll down too fast my explorer would crash. Unchecking the Display file icon on thumbnails in folder options is what fixed it for me. Now I can view thumbnails without explorer crashing every few seconds and having to start over. I am running windows 8 and have had this problem since the beginning, I am glad I finally found a solution.

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  • Rutilicus

    I’ve just disabled the 3rd-party shell extensions with the ShellExView utility and my problems are gone. I am very thankful to you for helping me with that terrible problem bothering me for months.

  • messss

    Can you please add some detail steps how one none tech. people can able to follow the steps to perform each of the above actions?

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