Windows explorer.exe does not start at startup

I have realized that corruption in the Windows registry can lead to all sorts of problems. Some of you may have faced this problem, that after you logged on to your computer, you might have seen just a blank screen. No desktop, no Taskbar! This may happen because explorer.exe which is supposed to start-up automatically, did not start at all. While some registry error might have caused this issue, it is certainly possible the problem could be due to some virus infection too, which blocks the Windows File Explorer from running.


In such situations where your Windows 10/8/7/Vista explorer.exe fails to start-up automatically on every boot, here are a few steps you can try out:

Windows explorer.exe does not start

1) Start Windows in Safe Mode and see if your explorer.exe will start in safe mode. If it does, then obviously something is interfering with its normal start in regular mode. I suggest you scan for malware in safe mode, remove infections if any and reboot. If you need to manually troubleshoot, you may perform a Clean Boot.

2) Check if any add-ons may be interfering with its starting up. Often, 3rd-party shell extensions can cause Explorer to crash on particular actions. Several programs add items to the right-click context menu. To see them in detail, you may download the freeware utility ShellExView. More here.

3) See if a System Restore helps you.

4) Open command prompt as admin and Run sfc /scannow.

5) Back up your Windows Registry first, and then open regedit and navigate to the following :

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon


In Winlogon, on the right side, you should notice a value called “Shell“. In the RHS Pane, ensure that the default string value of Shell is explorer.exe.

Double-click this value. Make sure only ‘explorer.exe‘ is given the value of Shell. If you see anything else there, simply delete it and leave only ‘explorer.exe’ .

Exit the Registry Editor.

Restart the computer for the changes to take effect.

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Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.