Friday, September 3, 2010

Windows Explorer Not Starting at Boot

Recently I had an interesting experience with an infected laptop. A rogue Anti Virus product called Antivirus GT made it unusable. First off Antivirus GT is fake, it does not clean any infected files in fact it downloads nasty spyware to your computer. Secondly every time you boot, it displays a fake virus scan window (see image above) showing various infected files. Then it promises to clean all infections if you buy a license.

One byproduct of Antivirus GT is it screws windows explorer. Let me explain, once you remove Antivirus GT you'll find windows explorer is no longer available at boot time; result ~no desktop. At this point do the three finger salute (CTRL-ALT-DEL) start Task Manager and manually start windows explorer by executing explorer.exe from File, New Task (Run..) However what you'll find is Windows complains it cannot find explorer.exe in "C:\Windows" even though file is clearly there.

After Googl'ing for solutions, finding and trying many different things I found the answer. From my limited programming experience Windows has a Debug option by enabling the following registry key HKLM/Software/Microsoft/Windows NT/Current Version/Image File Execution Options/explorer.exe By enabling Debugging explorer.exe is not available, is not started by the operating system nor can it be started manually. I had to delete Debug Key, reboot and viola desktop loaded.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, it worked. This solved my issue. I did the manual clean-up of GT, but was still getting the Black screen of death... until I saw your post. Thank you for posting this.

    I removed this from the registry (windows 7):
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\Explorer.exe\debugger