Microsoft malicious software removal tool seems to have removed Windows Explorer in my Windows XP. What can I do?
I’m actually very skeptical that Windows Explorer has actually been removed. However, there are a couple of steps that I would have you take to diagnose exactly what’s going on and perhaps repair it.
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If you can Start, it’s not gone
To be clear, if your Start menu and taskbar are still visible, then Windows Explorer has not been removed. Besides being the file explorer that you use to look at your own files on the computer, Windows Explorer is also the program that actually displays the Start menu and the taskbar.
Perhaps what’s happened is that the shortcut to Windows Explorer has been removed. I can see that happening, although not necessarily as a part of the malicious software removal tool.
What I would have you do is simply create a new shortcut to Explorer.exe. That’s the file name for Windows Explorer. If you create a shortcut that runs that, you’ll have Windows Explorer back.
But if you don’t have a taskbar and a Start menu? Then maybe explorer.exe is gone.
Explorer.exe not running
Type Ctrl+Alt+Delete to bring up the Task Manager. In the Task Manager, click on the file menu and then click on the Run option. In the resulting dialog box, type in “explorer.exe” and press OK. If you suddenly get your Start button and taskbar back, that means that explorer.exe has not been removed. It wasn’t running, but it was still on your computer.
Now if, when you try and run explorer.exe, you get a message that the program was not found, then perhaps it has been removed (although I really don’t know why that would be).
Type Ctrl+Alt+Delete to bring up Task Manager again, then click on File; and click on Run. This time we’re going to run the system file checker. Type in sfc /scannow. Click OK and have that run. That’s going to scan your machine for missing critical files, including Windows Explorer. This process may require that you reinsert your installation CD to be able to repair or replace the missing file.
If that doesn’t do the trick, then you may need to perform what’s called a repair install of Windows, again using your original installation media. Of course the worst case scenario is a complete reinstall of Windows from scratch. But I think if you have gotten to this point, a repair install should get you Windows Explorer back without forcing you to basically erase everything that’s on your machine.
Backups always save the day
And of course, I do have to throw out that one way that would be very easy to recover from this: recovering your machine from an image backup that was taken prior to whenever this started happening. An image backup basically captures the state of the machine; all of it, top to bottom. When you restore that image backup, you’re restoring your machine to that state.
When this kind of thing happens, simply restoring to a backup that was taken prior to this problem coming up will immediately make the problem go away.