Windows Explorer Has Stopped Working Fix

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 27, 2010
Updated • Oct 5, 2016
Windows, Windows tips

Windows Explorer is an essential program of the Windows operating system. It is one of the backbones of the operating system powering not only file browsing and operations but also the taskbar and start menu.

The message "Windows Explorer has stopped working" is relatively common judging from the number of web pages and solutions that users and webmasters have posted over the years on the Internet.

The goal of this troubleshooting guide is to provide users who are experiencing the Windows Explorer error with the most common solutions and fixes.

Note: Microsoft renamed Windows Explorer to File Explorer in Windows 8 and 10. This has not changed the fact that File Explorer may throw "has stopped working" errors as well. Most of what is recommended below applies to File Explorer as well because of that.

Windows Explorer Has Stopped Working

Solution 1: File Check

sfc scannow

This solution checks the operating system for missing and corrupt files and replaces them with the original file version to make sure only valid files are used. This helps in cases of data corruption and malicious attacks that have modified or deleted core operating system files.

1. Click Start, and then type cmd in the Start Search box.
2. In the results area, right-click cmd.exe, and then click Run as administrator. You may be prompted to type the password for an administrator account. Click Continue if you are the administrator or type the administrator password. Then, click Continue.
3. At the command prompt, type Sfc /scannow, and then press ENTER.

The scan may take a while. What it does is compare existing files on the device to the original files. If it notices files that are not original, it will try to replace them with the original version.

Solution 2: Scan Disk

windows explorer fix

Files and folders may be valid, but it can still be that the hard drive has bad sectors or other problems that lead to this Windows Explorer error message. Scanning the hard drive that Windows is installed on for disk errors is another option to resolve the issue.

1. Open the Start Menu and click on the computer link.
2. Right-click the hard drive that Windows is installed on (usually c:) and select Properties from the context menu.
3. Switch to the Tools tab and select the Check Now button under Error-checking
4. Make sure that both options are selected before you press the Start button.
5. The Disk check needs to be scheduled as the disk is in use when the operating system is running. It will start the scan automatically on the next startup.

Note: You may run Check Disk in the following way instead. This is useful if the computer link is not displayed in the start menu anymore (which is the case on Windows 8 and newer).

  1. Tap on the windows-key, type cmd.exe, right-click on the first result and select run as administrator from the context menu.
  2. Type chkdsk and hit enter.

Solution 3: Updates

Make sure your system is up to date. Check for Windows updates (via Start button > all programs > Windows Update) and software updates if the software is running in the background. Make sure you update drivers for the hardware as well (especially video card)

Solution 4: Scan the system with security software

A virus or other malicious software might be the cause for the issues with Windows Explorer. Scanning the system with security applications ensures that no virus or other malicious code is running on the system that is causing the problems.

Check out this extensive listing of security applications. Recommended are for instance Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, DrWeb and Gmer. You might want to run at least one program in the categories anti-malware/spyware, anti-rootkit and anti-virus.

Solution 4: Disable Third party services and tools

system configuration

Another possible cause for the Windows Explorer has stopped working error message is a third party program or service that might be conflicting with it.

Please note that this may be caused by programs that interact directly with Windows Explorer, e.g. plugins or shell scripts might do that.

To eliminate that possibility we need to disable all third party services and programs. This is best done in the System Configuration tool.

1. Click on the start button, type in msconfig in the run form and select the Msconfig tool from the search results.
2. Switch to the Startup tab first and remove all selected entries there. Please note that this can mean that a security software is disabled. You might want to keep that checked just in case. It can however be the cause for the explorer problems.
3. Switch to the Services tab and check "Hide all Microsoft services" at the bottom. This ensures that only third party services are displayed. Disable all the selected services as well and restart the computer afterwards.

Solution 6: Check For Memory Problems

windows memory diagnostics

This can be done in Vista, Windows 7 and newer versions of Windows. Click on the start button, type mem and hit enter. This will open the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool which will perform a memory scan on the next system startup.

Solution 7: Corrupt non-system files

The error message can appear if the Windows desktop or the startup directory of Windows Explorer contains corrupt files. The most common cause are multimedia files that are corrupt. It can also be that you are only experiencing the issue when opening a specific folder or drive in Windows Explorer.

Try to locate the corrupt file and move it or delete it so that it resolves the problems. If you cannot use Windows Explorer to delete or mote the files use the command line to do so.

This sevens solutions have resolved the "Windows Explorer Has Stopped Working" issue in the past. You might want to check the Event Viewer if the problem persists or fall back to a previous system restore point to resolve it.

Have you been experiencing this error message? If so, what have you done to resolve it?

Windows Explorer Has Stopped Working Fix
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Windows Explorer Has Stopped Working Fix
If you receive the error that Windows Explorer has stopped working, you may want to try the most common fixes for the issue to repair it.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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