My wife’s laptop started to have the problem that Windows explorer crashes again and again a few days back. The Windows will boot up OK for a few minutes and then all of sudden the task bar and all Windows Explorer windows will disappear.
The computer runs a Windows 10 OS updated from Windows 7. Before that day, everything was running fine even though it is a relatively older model (2 years old in today’s standard is kind of old).
A quick search for the symptom “windows 10 explorer crash” returns many web pages complaining about exactly the same issue. But the solutions given in the posts are very haphazard. Something like change the font setting from 175% to 150% (it is surely not the case for me), getting windows update (I can’t even getting the “ms-setting” to run in the task manager), uninstall “Inventor” (what exactly is that?), the list goes on and on. More importantly, these things do not work for me. So I decided to dig deeper into this issue myself to find a solution.
Fortunately, even though the explorer crashed (thus the start menu are not available), the task manager still works. You can try yours with “CTRL+SHIFT+ESC”. And you can run task from there. I tried a couple of things to fix it: such as “shutdown /r /o” to bring up the recover options. It didn’t fix the problem.
My break through comes from the observation that “windows error reporting” process is running when the explorer crashes. I thought I might be able to find some hint from the system log. And I did resolved the issue with the information from the log.
Here are the steps that solved the problem:
Step 1: Get in the “Control Panel”
You can do it by running the “control” task. Just for your record, if you can run the control panel, you could also use that window to explore the files in your PC before you got it completely fixed (click the “browse” buttom).
Step 2: Go to the “System and Security” settings
This setting is not directly accessible from “control panel” but if you click any of the group, you can find it at the left panel. In the screenshot below, I randomly picked the “Appearance and Personalization” group.
Step 3: “Administrator Tool” / “View event logs”
Step 4: Find the Application Error log
You can click the Event Viewer(Local)/Windows Logs/Application. Find the Event level with “Error”. For my case, the error was caused by a model “C:\WINDOWS\system32\IDTNC64.cpl”.
Now I have the target to fix!
A simple google search of the IDTNC64.cpl revealed that it is a file used by IDT audio. And it should be safe to uninstall it (the software logo is a small music symbol).
After uninstall and reboot, the problem is gone. It attested an aged wisdom “the hardest thing is to find where to fix”.
[Update:] An alternative route to get into the event viewer is try to run “eventvwr” from the task manager. It might be faster (without step 1 – 3). Give it a try first.
[Update April. 3, 2017 (Kudos to Dominic):] Several people mentioned the following comment left by Dominic helped. I think it is worth put here. “1 possible source of a explorer crash problem is moved files that “Quick access” is trying to find. If file gets moved and quick access cannot find it, it crashes explorer. Quick fix: windows symbol+R (run), enter c:\, File tab-Change folder and search options, and untick “show recently used in Quick access” or clear exporer history. Hope that helps someone.”
Hope you can use the similar method to fix your problem. Leave a comment below to let me know if it works for you.