• Sign in to Neowin Faster!

    Create an account on Neowin to contribute and support the site.

Problem with explorer.exe (?)

Recommended Posts

Howard Davis    17

My OS is Win. 7. I have been having problems with Outlook (email) malfunctioning and crashing. Running a repair on Microsoft Office 2013 did not help. Upon shutting the computer down or attempting reboot when this happens, I sometimes get that explorer.exe is still running, and I must force shutdown, which takes several minutes. I suspect malware - AVAST antivirus indicates no viruses or malware, but does not finish the scan, stopping at 97%. I have Malwarebytes, but now it does not open. Support Assist likewise does not open. indicating an "unexpected issue" and advising rebooting and trying again later. 

 

In addition I found that autocomplete has my debit card number, though I did not knowingly consent to this and do not want that information in the computer.  

 

Under "properties" for explorer.exe I find it is a 3M file located in C:\Windows - no other location is indicated. Various fixes are available for explorer.exe online, but can I trust them? Is explorer.exe the problem, could malware be causing this, and what can I do other than pay Dell $129 for a one-time fix? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
goretsky    1,051

Hello,

Many anti-malware vendors offer a free, bootable version of their software in the form of an .ISO or .IMG file that you can download, write to a CD, DVD or USB flash drive, and then boot from to scan your computer for threats.  You may wish to see if your vendor offers something like this and give it a try.

 

Regards,

 

Aryeh Goretsky

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mindovermaster    2,356

https://www.malwarebytes.com/

 

Free version, run it...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Brandon H    3,096
20 minutes ago, goretsky said:

Hello,

Many anti-malware vendors offer a free, bootable version of their software in the form of an .ISO or .IMG file that you can download, write to a CD, DVD or USB flash drive, and then boot from to scan your computer for threats.  You may wish to see if your vendor offers something like this and give it a try.

 

Regards,

 

Aryeh Goretsky

 

I 2nd this. I keep a Kaspersky Rescue Disc USB around for this purpose. the rescue disc is free so I'd recommend it

malware can tamper with installed scanners so they won't detect it so bootable scanners are useful

 

https://support.kaspersky.com/viruses/krd18

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Vince800    256
6 hours ago, Howard Davis said:

Under "properties" for explorer.exe I find it is a 3M file located in C:\Windows - no other location is indicated. Various fixes are available for explorer.exe online, but can I trust them? Is explorer.exe the problem, could malware be causing this, and what can I do other than pay Dell $129 for a one-time fix? 

In this thread, we ascertained that you were in fact speaking to scammers and not Dell or McAfee. Have you still allowed this group access to your machine as it could explain a lot of the issues you seem to have time and  time again with your Windows 7 installation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Howard Davis    17
18 hours ago, Vince800 said:

In this thread, we ascertained that you were in fact speaking to scammers and not Dell or McAfee. Have you still allowed this group access to your machine as it could explain a lot of the issues you seem to have time and  time again with your Windows 7 installation.

Yes, the scammer convinced me he was from Dell by giving me my service tag number and other specific information on my computer that only Dell could (or should) have. He may have been a present or former Dell employee, or hacked Dell for the information. He can no longer access my computer and the spyware he installed was detected by Malwarebytes and removed - this was about two years ago. Only once since, This October 9th, I called Dell and paid for a one-time repair. A Microsoft Windows update would not properly install and/or my computer would not exit and just froze up on it. Strangely, after giving my debit card info to the Dell billing dept. and being connected to a tech, the tech asked me to repeat the card information. I did so, but later realized I should not have. I contacted a manager and explained my concerns about this, and he investigated. He called me back the next day to emphatically assure me the card information was secure. Still, I DO NOT TRUST DELL. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Riva    1,205
20 minutes ago, Howard Davis said:

Yes, the scammer convinced me he was from Dell by giving me my service tag number and other specific information on my computer that only Dell could (or should) have. He may have been a present or former Dell employee, or hacked Dell for the information. He can no longer access my computer and the spyware he installed was detected by Malwarebytes and removed - this was about two years ago. Only once since, This October 9th, I called Dell and paid for a one-time repair. A Microsoft Windows update would not properly install and/or my computer would not exit and just froze up on it. Strangely, after giving my debit card info to the Dell billing dept. and being connected to a tech, the tech asked me to repeat the card information. I did so, but later realized I should not have. I contacted a manager and explained my concerns about this, and he investigated. He called me back the next day to emphatically assure me the card information was secure. Still, I DO NOT TRUST DELL. 

Bit off topic but these are the merits of outsourcing your customer support to India. Why not do a fresh install of Windows? I wouldnt trust my PC after such incident

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Howard Davis    17
23 hours ago, warwagon said:

the first thing I would do is check the smart data of the hard drive.

 

https://crystalmark.info/en/software/crystaldiskinfo/

Going to the site you linked to and attempting to download gave me:

"This site can’t provide a secure connection

www.winzipdriverupdater.com sent an invalid response."

Malwarebytes then came to life and told me the site was blocked due to a PUP. I do not understand this, but I will take no further risks with this site. 

 

Today there have been no symptoms of the problem I think due to explorer.exe., and today, unlike yesterday when there were problems, I could open Malwarebytes. A scan reported no threats detected. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Howard Davis    17
6 minutes ago, Riva said:

Bit off topic but these are the merits of outsourcing your customer support to India. Why not do a fresh install of Windows? I wouldnt trust my PC after such incident

I would install Win 10, but as I've said before I've heard of many people having trouble after doing this upgrade. I remember getting the awful Millennium OS with a new computer, and then upgrading to Win 7. After that I did have trouble - some software would not run and had to be reinstalled. Long time ago, so I don't remember all the details. I intend to keep Win 7 - I have decent virus and malware protection. My present computer is almost 5 years old and I'll probably be buying a new computer in a year or two. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim K    13,620

I'm sorry ... but it sounds like you've been had again.  What number did you dial to reach Dell Technical Support?  I wasn't aware that they would assist with home Windows issues (such as Windows Update)...could be wrong.  Just weird.

 

Nothing is wrong with the link warwagon posted.  The response you got sounds like you may have malware/hijacked/etc.

 

I would terminate your current Windows installation and start fresh (which, as Riva pointed out, should have been done after you fell victim the first time).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Howard Davis    17
25 minutes ago, Jim K said:

I'm sorry ... but it sounds like you've been had again.  What number did you dial to reach Dell Technical Support?  I wasn't aware that they would assist with home Windows issues (such as Windows Update)...could be wrong.  Just weird.

 

Nothing is wrong with the link warwagon posted.  The response you got sounds like you may have malware/hijacked/etc.

 

I would terminate your current Windows installation and start fresh (which, as Riva pointed out, should have been done after you fell victim the first time).

I called Dell at 800-999-3355. As I spoke to several different people and all seemed legitimate, I believe I did not reach a scammer site. For out of warranty computers they offer a one-time fix for $129, more if you want ongoing coverage. Of course they must be given access to your computer. In the first scam incident the scammer took a lot of time after doing the alleged repair, during which he installed malware that I later found and removed. There was no such time requested in this last fix. 

 

What exactly do you mean by "I would terminate your current Windows installation and start fresh." Install Win 10? No sense in reinstalling Win 7, as  it will not be supported much longer. Could I still have malware despite both Avast and Malwarebytes saying I do not? I've been OK for over 2 years since the scam episode.  I think it most likely there is an intermittent issue with explorer.exe if not something else, and today is just a "good day." Yesterday even Word crashed. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
+Human.Online    8,491

Come on man... again????

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
+warwagon    13,162
5 hours ago, Howard Davis said:

Going to the site you linked to and attempting to download gave me:

"This site can’t provide a secure connection

www.winzipdriverupdater.com sent an invalid response."

Malwarebytes then came to life and told me the site was blocked due to a PUP. I do not understand this, but I will take no further risks with this site. 

 

That's because you because you clicked on one of the ads on the site and not one of the actual download links.  Be careful what you click on websites if you are not blocking ads.  A LOT of sites will have ads with buttons that say "Download". Those are just an ad trying to fool you into installing their stuff. Assuming your smart data checks out, I agree with what other have said. Back up your data and  ....

 

tenor.gif

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Howard Davis    17
18 hours ago, warwagon said:

 

That's because you because you clicked on one of the ads on the site and not one of the actual download links.  Be careful what you click on websites if you are not blocking ads.  A LOT of sites will have ads with buttons that say "Download". Those are just an ad trying to fool you into installing their stuff. Assuming your smart data checks out, I agree with what other have said. Back up your data and  ....

 

tenor.gif

I clicked on your link to https://crystalmark.info/en/software/crystaldiskinfo/ and arrived at https://crystalmark.info/en/software/crystaldiskinfo/. I then clicked on the first download link on that page. I tried it again today with the same results as I reported previously. 

 

Both yesterday and today I've had no problems; on both days I did not even try to bring up Outlook, but handled my email directly on the att.net server. As Outlook has been most frequently affected by this issue, I now suspect it might be the source of the issue, if not explorer.exe. When I've had the issue and attempted to shutdown or reboot, explorer.exe kept running and would not allow shutdown (in a reasonable time at least), so I had to force shutdown, which took a few minutes. This is the reason I suspect explorer.exe.  I am uncertain of the problem's cause, but it obviously is intermittent, and as I've said both Avast and Malwarebytes can find no malware. To experienced computer pros like many here are, installing a new OS is a simple matter, but I fear for loss of data or use of the computer entirely, as I need it daily for my work. I have Acronis backup to an external hard drive, but of course it is based on my present OS, Win 7.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Riva    1,205
1 hour ago, Howard Davis said:

I clicked on your link to https://crystalmark.info/en/software/crystaldiskinfo/ and arrived at https://crystalmark.info/en/software/crystaldiskinfo/. I then clicked on the first download link on that page. I tried it again today with the same results as I reported previously. 

 

Both yesterday and today I've had no problems; on both days I did not even try to bring up Outlook, but handled my email directly on the att.net server. As Outlook has been most frequently affected by this issue, I now suspect it might be the source of the issue, if not explorer.exe. When I've had the issue and attempted to shutdown or reboot, explorer.exe kept running and would not allow shutdown (in a reasonable time at least), so I had to force shutdown, which took a few minutes. This is the reason I suspect explorer.exe.  I am uncertain of the problem's cause, but it obviously is intermittent, and as I've said both Avast and Malwarebytes can find no malware. To experienced computer pros like many here are, installing a new OS is a simple matter, but I fear for loss of data or use of the computer entirely, as I need it daily for my work. I have Acronis backup to an external hard drive, but of course it is based on my present OS, Win 7.

 

You can use the built in Windows 7 backup utility  to create a backup of your stuff and restore in Windows 10 using the same utility.

You will need to think carefully about where you store data on your machine:

  • Documents Videos and Images
  • Outlook pst if not cloud synced
  • Game Saves, Mods
  • Source Code if any
  • Passwords, Bookmarks from Browsers

Double check the list for 3 to 4 days before you backup. Also keep a full system backup from Acronis just in case.

 

Alternatively, Get a rescue disc from Kaspersky, burn to disc, boot, scan the system just to be safe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
+warwagon    13,162
3 hours ago, Howard Davis said:

I clicked on your link to https://crystalmark.info/en/software/crystaldiskinfo/ and arrived at https://crystalmark.info/en/software/crystaldiskinfo/. I then clicked on the first download link on that page. I tried it again today with the same results as I reported previously. 

 

Both yesterday and today I've had no problems; on both days I did not even try to bring up Outlook, but handled my email directly on the att.net server. As Outlook has been most frequently affected by this issue, I now suspect it might be the source of the issue, if not explorer.exe. When I've had the issue and attempted to shutdown or reboot, explorer.exe kept running and would not allow shutdown (in a reasonable time at least), so I had to force shutdown, which took a few minutes. This is the reason I suspect explorer.exe.  I am uncertain of the problem's cause, but it obviously is intermittent, and as I've said both Avast and Malwarebytes can find no malware. To experienced computer pros like many here are, installing a new OS is a simple matter, but I fear for loss of data or use of the computer entirely, as I need it daily for my work. I have Acronis backup to an external hard drive, but of course it is based on my present OS, Win 7.

Did the download button look like this ..?

 

image.thumb.png.5de862957049dbf5d388b7fd0a9348a4.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Howard Davis    17
20 hours ago, warwagon said:

Did the download button look like this ..?

 

image.thumb.png.5de862957049dbf5d388b7fd0a9348a4.png

Yes, I checked the page again and that's it.

  • Facepalm 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Howard Davis    17
22 hours ago, Riva said:

 

You can use the built in Windows 7 backup utility  to create a backup of your stuff and restore in Windows 10 using the same utility.

You will need to think carefully about where you store data on your machine:

  • Documents Videos and Images
  • Outlook pst if not cloud synced
  • Game Saves, Mods
  • Source Code if any
  • Passwords, Bookmarks from Browsers

Double check the list for 3 to 4 days before you backup. Also keep a full system backup from Acronis just in case.

 

Alternatively, Get a rescue disc from Kaspersky, burn to disc, boot, scan the system just to be safe.

Thanks for the advice. Would there be no risk in using the Win7 backup utility? How can I do so?

I do not know how to access the items you listed above, nor how to double check them. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nick H.    9,905

At the office we make a backup of the personal folder which contains My Documents, My Videos, My Music etc. We also make a backup of Google Chrome's "User Data" folder (found under C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome). 

 

The Google folder I mentioned makes sure that your favourites and such are kept.

 

Once you've backed up those folders, nuke the machine and install Windows 10 (or an OS of your choice so long as it is updated). As Ripley said, "it's the only way to be sure."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Brandon H    3,096
46 minutes ago, Howard Davis said:

Yes, I checked the page again and that's it.

that middle download link is an ad. you actually have to scroll down.

 

image.thumb.png.b026641f4996d429bf45aab71618fca9.png

 

Which leads you to select the edition you want:

 

image.thumb.png.405339d16e45d850f910f0c425a980b2.png

 

Or there are quick links above the ad on the previous page:

 

image.thumb.png.40392cb12b53b1bb7c2ddf94b49f98c3.png

 

 

I'd recommend you install an adblocker like ublock origin in your browser to avoid clicking fake links.

On 10/26/2019 at 4:52 PM, Vince800 said:

In this thread, we ascertained that you were in fact speaking to scammers and not Dell or McAfee. Have you still allowed this group access to your machine as it could explain a lot of the issues you seem to have time and  time again with your Windows 7 installation.

Considering the issues you've had in the past as well your system is likely still compromised. I'd highly recommend backing up important documents and wiping your computer for a clean install.

 

 

Edit: and despite what you've heard from the vocal whiners on the internet there is nothing wrong with Windows 10. you are very unlikely to have an issue upgrading (formatting and installing Windows 10 as a new OS in this case) and I would recommend biting the bullet and installing Windows 10 after you wipe your current install as support will be better and last longer.

 

If you do end up having any issues on Windows 10 we'd be happy to help you through them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Howard Davis    17

For the last two days my computer was fine. Malwarebytes ran and found no malware.

 

Today, Withing a few minutes of my first bootup and going to the att.net server for my email, I had a blue screen crash. I've had such crashes on 6/18, 6/11/ and 4/22/19.

Upon reboot I ran Avast free antivirus. It showed no browser threats and no malware, but again it stalled on "performance issues" and after a wait I stopped the scan.

Malwarebytes will not open, even after another reboot, though it worked fine yesterday and found no threats. When done today I tried to shutdown, but again I got "waiting for explorer.exe - playing logoff sound." I finally had to force shutdown. It took several minutes to do so. 

 

Going to the Arena Ethnobotanicals website and attempting to make a purchase, I was told "Your connection is not private - attackers may be trying to steal information from this site." I did not go through with the purchase.

 

I'm at a loss as to the cause and nature of this problem, or if it poses a risk to my personal information. 

 

Would installing Win 10 be a sure fix?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Howard Davis    17
6 minutes ago, Brandon H said:

that middle download link is an ad. you actually have to scroll down.

 

image.thumb.png.b026641f4996d429bf45aab71618fca9.png

 

Which leads you to select the edition you want:

 

image.thumb.png.405339d16e45d850f910f0c425a980b2.png

 

Or there are quick links above the ad on the previous page:

 

image.thumb.png.40392cb12b53b1bb7c2ddf94b49f98c3.png

 

 

I'd recommend you install an adblocker like ublock origin in your browser to avoid clicking fake links.

Considering the issues you've had in the past as well your system is likely still compromised. I'd highly recommend backing up important documents and wiping your computer for a clean install.

 

18 minutes ago, Nick H. said:

At the office we make a backup of the personal folder which contains My Documents, My Videos, My Music etc. We also make a backup of Google Chrome's "User Data" folder (found under C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome). 

 

The Google folder I mentioned makes sure that your favourites and such are kept.

 

Once you've backed up those folders, nuke the machine and install Windows 10 (or an OS of your choice so long as it is updated). As Ripley said, "it's the only way to be sure."

I attempted to backup to a USB Sandisk flash drive, but now find I cannot access the drive. There is no indicating sound made as usual when removing or inserting a USB flash drive. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nick H.    9,905
10 minutes ago, Howard Davis said:

Would installing Win 10 be a sure fix?

No. But your system is compromised, that much is sure. Formatting the system will at least remove that concern. If the problems persist after that then we can look in to things like hardware issues.

 

I can't stress formatting enough, not upgrading. Wipe the whole damned computer and start from scratch. It's not difficult and if you get stuck along the way we can continue to help; providing you have another way of accessing the Internet to talk to us. ;)

Just now, Howard Davis said:

 

I attempted to backup to a USB Sandisk flash drive, but now find I cannot access the drive. There is no indicating sound made as usual when removing or inserting a USB flash drive. 

 

Do you have another stick you can try? Otherwise this is going to be tough...

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Brandon H    3,096

agreed, you really will want to format and start fresh with a new install to be sure you're not compromised any longer. as I mentioned before, malware can mess with installed antivirus scanners causing them to not detect the issue. A boot scanner like Kaspersky Rescue Disk or just straight formatting and starting fresh would be the best options.

 

Again I'd highly recommend going to Windows 10 for your new install. We can assist you with any issues on 10 but I doubt you'd have any. If anything still acts up then it could be hardware starting to fail and we can assist you in determining that.

 

As for your USB, can you try putting it in another PC to see if it reads? this should rule out your computer acting up causing it to not read if it does detect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.