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when the taskbar hangs or disappears

 

Overview

sometimes windows explorer (explore.exe not to be confused with internet explorer iexplore.exe), gets

part of the process of starting up a new explorer.exe (which is your taskbar, desktop and icons, start menu) is killing any explorer.exe processes which are running - they are probably hung or messed up.

if the desktop/taskbar never appears

your explorer.exe could be either damaged or is not running.

sometimes it dies for no reason.

File|New task(Run) explorer [Enter]

this should bring your desktop back. explorer handles windows explorer, desktop, taskbar, system tray, and windows search. you may have to restore it from your system restore/OS cd by copying it using a cmd shell.

cd directoryname should get you into directory names

d: should switch you to the cd drive

if the file is explorer.exe, ren c:\windows\system32\explorer.exe explorer.ex && copy /y d:explorer.exe c:\windows\system32, but please note that your explorer.exe on media may be older than the explorer.exe upgraded by windows update(check the windows update directories with dir/s/b explorer.ex*).

how to reformat computer to factory state if you have to.

what to do when explorer/computer hangs

often times the explorer will hang, lock up, crash, or just close all by itself, leaving you with no taskbar and a few other things missing (icons? desktop?). here's the steps without the distraction of pictures.

If the taskbar is missing (but you see a blue line, you have squeezed your taskbar down to a line. drag it back to the way you want it, or you may have to right-click on the taskbar, pick properties, and uncheck "auto-hide taskbar" and click OK.

If Explorer simply closed or crashed, it's not running. skip to step 6.

  1. Do a control-alt-del (hold down Ctrl and Alt keys and tap the Delete key).
  2. Click on the processes tab.
  3. Click on the "Image Name" column title (to sort by "Image Name" if it isn't already).
  4. Find explorer.exe, right-click on it, and pick "End Task", or left-click on it and click the "End Process" button.
  5. Wait for explorer to shut down completely. you can watch the taskbar disappear if it isn't already gone.
  6. From the menu, choose File|New Task (Run...)
  7. Type in explorer and hit the [Enter] key or click OK. Windows explorer should then start.
  8. Wait for the explorer's task bar at the bottom of the screen to come up completely before you do anything.

Now here are the instructions again with the pictures.

If Explorer simply closed or crashed, it's not running. skip to step 6.

  1. Do a control-alt-del (hold down Ctrl and Alt keys and tap the Delete key).
  2. Click on the processes tab.
    end-task on explorer.exe
  3. Click on the Image Name column title (to sort by Image Name if it isn't already).
  4. Find explorer.exe, right-click on it, and pick "End Task", or left-click on it and click the "End Process" button.
  5. Wait for explorer to shut down completely. you can watch the taskbar disappear if it isn't already gone.
    taskbar
  6. From the menu, choose File|New Task (Run...)
    File, new task/run
  7. Type in explorer and hit the [Enter] key or click OK. The windows explorer should then start.
    explorer, OK
  8. Wait for the explorer's task bar at the bottom of the screen to come up completely before you do anything.
    taskbar

Things should now run normally.

taskbar is a thin line at bottom of screen

  1. right click on the line. you should get a context menu that lists "Lock the Taskbar" in it. make sure it is not locked. if it is, unlock it.
  2. drag the line up - it will snap - I like to have at least 2 snaps (2 rows of buttons) for XP. it allows me to see the date and time and day of week on the clock.
  3. lock the taskbar if you choose, unless you often make changes to the taskbar.

if this happens a lot

I wrote this article for just such occasions because it used to happen to me a lot. I am pretty sure it was due to filesystem corruption. all kinds of weird things happend when you have filesystem corruption - programs you download or install start having "bugs" (because the OS is hosed).

if this is your case, maybe it's time to reinstall windows from scratch OR resize and move some partitions using acronis disk director 11 and reinstall to another partition so you can keep your data. also, repair your filesystem FIRST.