Article ID: 2694911 - View products that this article applies to.
When working in Windows, you may receive the following error message:
Additionally, you may notice the screen flicker just before or after the error message appears.
Windows Explorer has stopped working. Windows is restarting
This issue can be caused due to any of the following issues:
To resolve this issue you need to determine what is causing Windows Explorer to stop working, try the troubleshooting steps below to help determine the issue.
Update your current video driverOutdated or corrupt video drivers can cause Windows Explorer to stop working. Downloading and installing the latest video driver can solve many of these issues. You can do this from using Windows Update or by visiting your system manufacturer’s website or by contacting them directly.
For more information on updating your drivers, see the following content on the Microsoft website:
Update a driver for hardware that isn't working properly
Update drivers: recommended links
Run System File Checker (CFS) to check your filesUse System File Checker to scan your PC for missing or corrupt files. To do this, follow these steps:
The scan may take some time, so be patient. Windows will repair any corrupted or missing files that are found. If information from the installation CD is needed to repair the problem, you may be prompted to insert your Windows CD.
For more information about System File Checker (SFC) see the following KB article on the Microsoft website:
How to use the System File Checker tool to troubleshoot missing or corrupted system files on Windows Vista or on Windows 7
Scan your PC for Virus or Malware infectionsVirus and Malware infections can cause problems with application performance. Use your favorite antivirus software to scan for any infections that might be hiding on your PC. If you don’t have an antivirus you can download and install Microsoft Security Essentials for free by following the link below.
Microsoft Security Essentials
Start your PC in Safe Mode to check for startup issuesStart your PC in Safe Mode and see if you can reproduce the error. After starting your PC in Safe Mode, work as you normally do and perform the same actions that you perform when getting the error. If you still receive the error in Safe Mode, go to the next section and follow the steps to do Clean Boot troubleshooting.
To learn how to start your PC in Safe Mode, see the following article on the Microsoft website:
Start your computer in safe mode
Start your PC in a Clean Boot environment and troubleshoot the issueIf you do not experience the same crashes in Safe Mode, it’s very likely a startup item is causing the issue. Follow the steps found on the following article to perform a clean boot and pinpoint the item causing the issue.
How to troubleshoot a problem by performing a clean boot in Windows Vista or in Windows 7
Additional Troubleshooting Steps:The additional troubleshooting steps below are less common but can still cause Windows Explorer to stop working.
Test your system's RAM memorySometimes faulty RAM (Random-Access Memory) can cause intermittent problems within Windows. Use the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool by clicking Start, type Memory Diagnostics and select the result in the list. When the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool window appears, choose Restart now and check for problems (recommended).
Test for picture files that may contain corruptionCorrupt images can sometimes issues with Windows Explorer. If Windows Explorer stops working while working with pictures or browsing folders that contain pictures, there may be corruption is one or more picture files. To test for this issue, follow the steps below:
Note: After adjusting the options to Display file icon on thumbnails, and Always show Icons, never thumbnail, files no longer display thumbnails so pictures and other files will display as the default icon for their file types. If you can reproduce the error with these options set, the issue is not with pictures or videos and you should return the Folder options to their original settings.
Check the details of the error to see which application caused Windows Explorer to stop working. To do this, follow these steps:
Perform a System RestoreIf the solutions above do not resolve the issue you can perform a System Restore to restore the PC back to a time before the issue started. If the issue has been occurring for a month or more, it may be better to follow the steps in the next section and perform an In-Place Upgrade to repair the issue. To perform a System Restore, follow the steps in the article listed below:
Perform an In-Place UpgradeIf the issue has been occurring for a month or more, it may be better to perform an In-Place Upgrade and restore Windows to the original installation. Performing an In-Place Upgrade will not damage files and applications that are currently installed on your computer. To perform an In-Place Upgrade, follow the steps in the article listed below:
How to Perform an In-Place Upgrade on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 & Windows Server 2008 R2
Have other questions? To obtain free support, check out our Microsoft Community. There, you can search for answers or ask other users specific questions. Click the following link to visit the Microsoft Community Forums:
Microsoft CommunityTo see Answers posts about this issue, click the following link:
Article ID: 2694911 - Last Review: June 4, 2013 - Revision: 7.0