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
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
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).
- Tap on the windows-key, type cmd.exe, right-click on the first result and select run as administrator from the context menu.
- 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
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
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?