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What is killing Explorer.exe?

Discussion in 'Windows XP' started by columbo, Jan 24, 2006.

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  1. columbo

    columbo Thread Starter

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    Hey all,

    I'm trying to fix a problem that just popped up this weekend. Machine has been running perfectly for the longest time now, but ever since last Saturday, it has been incredibly sluggish, usually with 100% CPU usage and explorer.EXE is always spiking in "mem usage" (usually around 54,000 K).

    The machine has a PIII 667 MhZ CPU, 256 MB RAM, 6 GB HD and is running Windows XP Professional (SP2 and all other critical updates installed). Norton Internet Security 2005 suite is installed.

    I have run a full-system scan using updated Norton defs, and even checked again with Ewido and Trend scans; Found nothing.

    I have tried defragging the HD, running CHKDSK repair, cleaning up all the old temp files and running a manual repair off the XP CD without any effect.

    Now here is the weird part...

    Figuring that it had to be related to Norton, or the network connection or something, I booted it up in safe-mode to see what would happen....

    IT STILL DOES IT....even in safe-mode!

    I am positive that it is not virus-related. I am positive that it is not related to Norton (because no Norton components loaded in safe-mode). And I am positive that it is not related to any new devices or software that has been installed (since nothing was added to the machine immediately prior to this).

    The only things I haven't tried yet are:

    -Downloading and installing a BIOS update (last time I checked the manufacturer's website, there wasn't a newer one available)

    -Formatting the HD and re-loading XP from scratch (I really didn't want to have to do this because this is a Frankenstein machine that I put together and I don't have any of the drivers)

    So I am asking the brilliant (or even the mediocre) members of TSG to offer me some further suggestions as to what may be causing this bizzare explorer.exe problem.

    Thanks!

    Columbo
     
  2. Rollin' Rog

    Rollin' Rog

    Joined:
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    The first thing you should have done was try a System Restore. But since you have now done a repair/reinstall those restore points are lost.

    Does it matter what profile you log into in Safe Mode?

    Are any errors showing in the Event Viewer other than the normal "Dcom" errors you get when booting to Safe Mode?

    If you terminate and restart Explorer, does the problem persist? Terminate it from the Task Manager, then select File > New Task and start it by entering "explorer.exe".

    You say Explorer is spiking in "mem usage", but is it Explorer that is consuming the CPU time?

    Frankly I don't even see how you could run a full antivirus scan or do any of those other things with the cpu usage at 100 %.

    Is the computer unusually slow to boot and open programs?
     
  3. columbo

    columbo Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    Hey Rog,

    Didn't make any changes though; I figured a restore wouldn't matter?

    As for the other points:

    -There is only one profile on this machine; Do you think it would make a difference if I created a brand-new profile?

    -No other unusual errors in Event Viewer

    -Tried terminating explorer.exe and restarting from "new task" but the same problem occurs

    -Well, the CPU usage jumps up and down, from 6% to 18% to 100% and back up and down. Each spike corresponds to a boost or drop in mem usage for explorer.exe

    -The computer is minimally-functional...very slow, but slightly less so in safe-mode. I should've been more clear in my original post, but it is jumping up and down. That is probably why I am able to run scans, defrag, etc.

    Thanks

    Columbo
     
  4. Rollin' Rog

    Rollin' Rog

    Joined:
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    Merijn has a new Startuplist program. Download, unzip and run it. Save the text file and upload it as an attachment.


    http://www.thespykiller.co.uk/forum/index.php?action=tpmod;dl=item3

    Atleast we can see what is running under Explorer and that might provide a clue if something doesn't belong.

    Creating a new profile is always a useful test. However you should have two profiles available in Safe Mode, the formal Administrator account and your normal user account with Administrative rights. If you didn't try the formal Administrator account you can test with that.

    You can also test by enabling the "guest" account.

    Also, open the Device Manager and select the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers.

    Select the Primary IDE, Advanced tab. The "current transfer mode" should be ULTRA DMA not PIO. If it says PIO, select the driver tab and uninstall the driver and reboot.
     
  5. columbo

    columbo Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    Hi Rog,

    Strange thing happened last night; I booted the machine and after it finished logging in, a message came up pertaining to a corrupt file in System32 called "GGHKJ.ini". I ran CHKDSK to delete it and now the machine seems to be working OK.

    When I ran defrag previously, it detected a file called "GGHKJ.tmp" that prevented defrag from running. I don't know why CHKDSK didn't get rid of the .ini corrupt file when it got rid of the corrupt .tmp file, but everything seems to be running normally now.

    I will download and run the Startup List program that you linked to and will post the results, but hopefully the problem has been cleared up.

    I'll check the Primary IDE settings as well.

    Thanks for all your help.

    Columbo
     
  6. Rollin' Rog

    Rollin' Rog

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Seems odd that it would be related to a non starting file -- but if there were other problems on the disk that chkdsk corrected -- then it would make sense if Windows were having problems reading the drive. Typically there will be errors logged in the Event Viewer when this occurs (run eventvwr.msc)


    If you had problems with the IDE, you'd still have them, it would slow down everything which involved drive access.
     
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