Windows File Explorer crashes, freezes or has stopped working

If your Windows File Explorer crashes or freezes or you see an error message – Windows Explorer has stopped working & is restarting, on your Windows 10/8/7 computer, then this post will help you fix the Explorer freezing or crashing issues.

The 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 in time when you find that your Explorer crashes or freezes frequently. Additionally, you may also receive the following message:

Windows File Explorer has stopped working

Windows File Explorer has stopped working

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 to its default, where applicable & possible.

Go through the entire list first before you decide to implement any of our suggestions and remember to create a system restore point first so that you can always restore should the changes not be to your expectations.

Explorer crashes or freezes

If your Windows File Explorer crashes or freezes frequently, you need to carry out the following actions that may help you fix the problem:

  1. Disable the Preview Pane
  2. Disable Thumbnails
  3. Disable UAC temporarily
  4. Disable DEP and see
  5. Launch the folder windows in a separate process
  6. Check installed Add-ons
  7. Run System File Checker
  8. Check Problem Reports & Solutions Center
  9. Update Video drivers
  10. Troubleshoot in Clean Boot State
  11. Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool
  12. and so on.

Let us go through the suggestions in details.

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 10/8/7 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 File 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) 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 10/8/7/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.

Explorer crashes or freezes

It will let you view & disable suspect 3rd party shell extensions. Using the trial & error method, you may disable/enable the extensions to try and identify if any of them are causing a problem. ShellExView can 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 Graphics 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.

15) This post will help you if Explorer crashes when you right-click.

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 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.

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

Windows freezes | Internet Explorer freezes| Google Chrome Browser crashes | Mozilla Firefox Browser freezing | Edge browser hangsWindows Media Player freezes | Microsoft Outlook freezes | Computer hardware freezes.

Post ported from WinVistaClub, updated and posted here.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

21 Comments

  1. 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..

  2. 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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  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. Reid

    I had a problem with Windows Explorer crashing which I was finally able to fix by turning off the “Date Modified” in the header line. Weird – right? I could not find anything about it. Today – a similar problem occurred which I was able to fix with the disable DEP fix listed as number 7 above. I was only trying to right click on an external disk drive to add a folder and it abended every time. Thank you so much for this thread.

  7. sreejith

    Hai,

    I Had the same issue, i have checked all the posts & answers from varies sites but no one was helped. i have turned on the updates i have up to dated with all the updates after that the issue has been solved since 36 hours the machine not crashed in single time also.
    please try let me know the result

    Thx
    SK

  8. Plumber

    I have been using Vista home premium for some years now. In the initial years, no problem with the window explorer crashing and restarting but later it came every now and then. Annoying. Tried to look for help on the web but no success.

    Learnt something from my WD My Cloud installation yesterday. Scared me at the end of the night when I could not log in even as admin. Tried using other user id and no success. Later I realised the problem. There is a difference in which folder you click – the vertical left hand directory (A) or the directory on the main page (B). I managed to log in when I clicked on the folder in the main page. Pretty relieved and happy with that finding as I thought I could not log into my new WD toy again.

    Extending that finding to my Window Explorer problem, I find that if I use click on the folder in the main page, no more explorer crashing! I still get occasional explorer crashing as that were due to my habit in clicking on the folders in the vertical left window! Old habit dies hard. Ha.

    For those with this explorer crashing, try to click on the folders in the main page. Not the folders in the left window. Good luck!

    P/S I think this explorer crashing problem came about after some Service Pack update as I did not have this problem in the initial years. Really wish that MS would have taken the initiative and effort to resolve this once and for all by looking at their SP updates. I know MS has stopped their SP work on Vista now.

  9. Herbert Buetow

    I downloaded the “Shelxview” application. One by one I tried to disable various context menu handlers but the problem persisted. I noticed that several context menu handlers had been disabled for from the very start. I did something strange in that I enabled everything. Oddly enough the problem is now gone. Not saying that this is going to work for everyone, but it worked for me.

  10. PatSG

    For 3rd-party shell extensions, I found that the below tends to crash my Win Explorer in Win 7 SP1:-

    1) AudioShell
    — randomly crashes explorer.exe multiple times daily; Event Viewer states “Faulting module name: unknown”. Uninstalling AudioShell resolves the problem instantly.

    2) Avira Antivirus “Scan Selected Files” Context Menu
    — crashes explorer.exe sporadically; Event Viewer states “Faulting module name: shlext64.dll, shlext64.dll_unloaded”

    Otherwise, I found that some DLL files in the WindowsSystem32 folder may also sometimes cause Win Explorer to crash. If these DLL files are corrupt, running sfc /scannow might resolve some of these DLL-induced crashes. Otherwise, one might have to replace the problem DLL files with a good copy from somewhere. Some examples:-

    Faulting module name: msi.dll, version: 5.0.7601.17807
    Faulting module path: C:windowssystem32msi.dll

    Faulting module name: SHELL32.dll, version: 6.1.7601.18429
    Faulting module path: C:windowssystem32SHELL32.dll

    Faulting module name: DUI70.dll, version: 6.1.7600.16385
    Faulting module path: C:windowssystem32DUI70.dll
    => Note: Corrupted/ Outdated GPU drivers may induce DUI70.dll to crash Win Explorer/ Control Panel.

  11. shah

    if you are asus user, u may try to remove/uninstall the ‘asus webstorage’.. i found this usefull for the problem. http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-system/windows-7-home-premium-corrupted-file-pintlgbimd/f39e62df-aaf0-4bfd-adbd-cd8e874a5297?page=3

  12. ???? ?

    number 5 fixed my problem

  13. dany

    hi , ‘ve just disabled the 3rd-party shell extensions with the ShellExView utility , my problem is caused by “Spybot-S&D Explorer Integration ” i disabled with ShellExView.

  14. Nindhitaa

    Hi. i just upgraded my laptop with windows 10 yesterday. but when i open file explorer it has starts error and freeze directly, need about 2 minutes for normal again and close itself.
    Anyone can help me ? Thank you 🙂

  15. Ron

    no result found

  16. Robert Francis Hyatt

    Hello, Name is Steven, Florida, I just found your comment after 3 weeks of trying Every example! Thank you to you & God! shellview disabled it…

  17. Conrad Braam

    For me, I opened a powershell window (will require you to elevate)
    type
    get-process vpreview|Stop-Process
    the hung explorer (MDI window to be more precise,) will close and other explorers will stay open. I suspect problem is where the previewer can hang if it opens a file on a removable or network drive that goes away unexpectedly.

  18. ThanksForAllowingGuestPostingA

    I have this problem only when running new .exe files. Why? Because I
    FIREWALL THE WINDOWS SHELL (for security, in principle, e.g. Zero-Day
    attacks and just excessive desire for privacy beyond bothering to check
    exhaustively what every process is actually doing – and Microsoft like
    Facebook, DO tend to shift the goalposts, so err on the side of caution
    /tinfoilhat). So, firewalling explorer.exe stops it checking for
    certificate-revokation (or something like that, OH SO INTELLIGENTLY ON
    TCP PORT 80 AND NOT SSL-secured itself – ironically!)
    NO ONE else has mentioned this anywhere that I can see from a quick web search.
    Weird
    that no-one had the same (whitelist only ESSENTIAL processes for
    internet connectivity) setup as myself… and would have absolutely seen
    the same issue as I have over multiple machines and Windows versions…
    hey, maybe there’s a reason for the paranoia?! Or maybe this is a
    reason for the hangs – and they are only hangs, not crashes, generally
    (IIRC).

  19. JAK

    I’ve had the same problem – AudioShell (latest version) crashes explorer.exe, but the older version I had did not. Also running Win 7.

  20. Wes Libbey

    WIN10 Safe Mode has a choice of correct directory errors. It worked for me.

  21. Clive

    This is a very old article, but nether-the-less I was researching this problem and came across this. I had explorer crashing every time I tried to go from windowed mode to full screen and and back again in the flight simulation program, it turned out to be my Avast Anti-Virus application, as soon as I had uni-stalled it my problem with explorer crashes went away. I tried everything else before. Problem was I had used Avast for the last few years with no problem, so looks like an update to Avast caused this very frustrating event. Hope it helps someone even at this late stage.

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