Why Are There Two Explorer.exe Processes Running? - gHacks Tech News

Why Are There Two Explorer.exe Processes Running?

I check the running processes on my Windows system regularly to find potentially malicious or unnecessary processes. When I looked at the process listing today I noticed that two explorer.exe processes were running. I remembered that this could be a sign of malicious software disguising itself as a system process. When I checked the process paths I noticed that the location was identical and the standard explorer.exe location in the windows\system32\ folder.

Still, it felt strange that two process were started instead of just one. It took a bit of investigating to find the reason for this behavior.

When you look at both processes you will notice that they act independently of each other. You can see that for instance by looking at the memory usage or cpu utilization.

Two explorer.exe processes

I'd like to point out that you need to make sure that the two explorer.exe processes, or at least one of them, is not malicious in nature. It is a good idea to check the path first, if you see a different path for one process you may have a virus problem. You can check both explorer.exe files then over at services like Virus Total to check the files for malicious contents.

A settings in the Folder Options configuration of Windows Explorer explains the existence of two explorer.exe processes. Open Windows Explorer and click on Tools > Folder Options. Switch to the View tab there and scroll down until you find the following preference: Launch folder windows in a separate process.

If the preference is checked you have found the reason why two explorer.exe windows are running on your system. You can uncheck the option to have only one Windows Explorer process running at any time on the system.

The core reason for enabling the option is stability. It is usually safe to disable the feature so that only one explorer process is running on the PC.

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Comments

  1. odio said on October 26, 2011 at 9:17 pm
    Reply

    stability or 2 process running?

    The CPU usage with only 1 is less than with 2?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 26, 2011 at 9:25 pm
      Reply

      From what I can tell, two processes use more memory. Cannot really say about cpu utilization as it is usually very low on my PC.

  2. Midnight said on October 26, 2011 at 10:33 pm
    Reply

    I also periodically check the Task Manager and have never noticed two instances of Explorer running at the same time.

    I guess that means that my system is clean! :)

    I run KIS 2012 Full Scan once a week, as well as SuperAntispyware on a regular basis to make certain that nothing malicious gets onto my system!

  3. Threshold said on October 26, 2011 at 11:53 pm
    Reply

    Explorer has been giving me issues for over a year, hanging constantly.

    If I restart the process than most of the icons in the system tray disappear and I have to kill the process of the disappeared applications and restart them.

    Is there a way to avoid this?

    I get this error when explorer hangs in case anyone might understand what causes it:

    Problem signature:
    Problem Event Name: AppHangB1
    Application Name: explorer.exe
    Application Version: 6.1.7601.17567
    Application Timestamp: 4d672ee4
    Hang Signature: 5d20
    Hang Type: 4
    OS Version: 6.1.7601.2.1.0.256.1
    Locale ID: 1040
    Additional Hang Signature 1: 5d20aa6e1bf6514767ee4885920a9f51
    Additional Hang Signature 2: a33b
    Additional Hang Signature 3: a33bc558e9cbc12c1c267ec4c33000cc
    Additional Hang Signature 4: 5a5f
    Additional Hang Signature 5: 5a5f7dc08a91dc2e04d7ea00f660e09a
    Additional Hang Signature 6: d8da
    Additional Hang Signature 7: d8dab99e3390627643a6e8091838beb6

    1. Joey Cam said on November 3, 2011 at 9:39 pm
      Reply

      Try using the SFC command and see if it fixses the problem.
      1. Open up a Run dialogue box
      2. Type in, sfc /scannow
      3. Be patient and wait for the scan to do it’s thing

  4. Jupiter said on October 27, 2011 at 12:15 am
    Reply

    I would rather have the option enabled. If one explorer window freezes, it does not affect the other windows or the taskbar. Otherwise, you would have to kill explorer.exe, lose all your open explorer windows, and not be able to access your start menu.

  5. odio said on October 27, 2011 at 12:41 am
    Reply

    I had 2 “plugin-container.exe *32” from Firefox. Is this normal?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 27, 2011 at 12:51 am
      Reply

      Each plugin is running in its own container as far as I know.

  6. Vinícius said on October 27, 2011 at 12:45 am
    Reply

    Interesting!

  7. nevilis said on October 27, 2011 at 7:16 pm
    Reply

    There is also another reason to the multiple instances of explorer.exe running (sometimes there may be more than 2).

    The reason is because, like me, if you use Internet Download Manager or JDownloader and you do a right click and select Open Folder, it will launch a new instance of explorer.exe.

  8. Manish Jha said on October 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm
    Reply

    strangely even though in my system windows 7 32 bit launch folder in separate process in unticked..still i h always see 2 explore.exe running…
    i have been using kis 2012 and male ware byte all updated…

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 27, 2011 at 10:06 pm
      Reply

      Are they both pointing to system32?

      1. Manish Jha said on October 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm
        Reply

        yeah>>>>i could provide you screenshot if u want..

      2. Afrim Shaptafa said on November 26, 2014 at 9:14 pm
        Reply

        I have two explorer.exe just like manish jha and the launch folder in seperate process box is unticked as well but my second explorer.exe takes up ALL of my RAM and when i force close it it fixes itself for a few mins and the desktop itself does not close.

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