Black screen after logon, explorer.exe stopped working, faulty module shlwapi.dll

Discussion in 'Recovery & Backup' started by jboyce, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. jboyce

    jboyce

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    I want to apologize for the long posting, but I am not looking for someone to give me the standard big hammer solutions for my issue. I have done a lot of Google research about this issue and have conducted most of the repairs, fixes, diagnostic tests recommended for similar issues. I have included a brief description of all the diagnostic tests that I have run and am looking for some technical expertise that will help me identify the source of the problem and possible solutions.

    Issue:
    After logging into a user account a dialog box is displayed stating that Explorer.exe has stopped working. Additional details show that the Faulty Module is SHLWAPI.dll. Other than the error dialog box, the screen is black except for the mouse pointer; no desktop and no menu bar. I can use CTL+ALT+DEL to get to the Task Manager, and subsequently start some new tasks such as a command line window or the control panel from Task Manager.

    This issue appeared the day after updating Apple iTunes software (from version 9.3.something, to the current 10.1.2). I believe it was the first reboot the day after updating iTunes. Immediately after updating iTunes an error dialog box appeared stating that the Bonjour service had stopped working. Bonjour is Apple’s automatic network discovery service that is integrated with iTunes (i.e., a required installation for iTunes to work properly). My suspicion is that something in Bonjour is conflicting with Windows Explorer and causing the error I am seeing.


    System Hardware and OS:
    Dell Optiplex 755, approximately 3 years old, running Vista Ultimate 32-bit with only one user account. The user account has administrative privileges. The OS is not entirely up-to-date, but not an original install (see item #3 below).

    Diagnostic Tests and Possible Resolutions that have been tried, with results are listed below. These diagnostic tests have generally been conducted in the order listed below.

    1. Ran the file check utility (sfc /scannow) from the command line. No errors identified or fixed. A reboot of the system produces the same error dialog box and black screen.

    2. Ran a disk check upon startup. No errors identified or fixed. A reboot of the system produces the same error dialog box and black screen.

    3. Ran Windows Update. The system is not completely up-to-date with updates; however, any updates that are downloaded result in an error that they fail during installation.

    4. Ran virus update and virus scan. My virus program (Avast) and virus definitions are up-to-date and scans show no indication of viruses.

    5. Disabled all third party services and startup programs using system configurator. A reboot of the system produces the same error dialog box and black screen.

    6. Exposed the hidden administrator user account, rebooted, then logged on using that account. This produced a successful normal bootup sequence to a working desktop and menu system. So far there are no indications of any problems with the system using the administrator user account. I am not using the administrator account for diagnostic troubleshooting and testing to ensure that I don’t corrupt this account.

    7. Removed all Apple software (iTunes, Safari, QuickTime) and supporting programs and services. A reboot of the system produces the same error dialog box and black screen.

    8. Used Windows System Restore to return the system to the configuration one day prior to the iTunes update. The automatic reboot during system restore, and login using the normal user account, results in the appearance of a normal working system; however, any subsequent configuration changes or reboots result in the same error dialog box and black screen.

    Configuration changes that I have tried to do when this normal working system is present includes; (a) removing or updating Apple software, (b) running Window update, (c) disabling or enabling third party services and startup programs, and (d) hiding or exposing the hidden administrator account. All of these actions result in the same error dialog box and black screen at the next reboot and login using the normal user account. Even doing nothing (other than rebooting a second time immediately after the initial system restore reboot) produces the same error dialog box and black screen.

    9. Because doing nothing, following a System Restore to one day prior to the iTunes update, other than a second reboot produces the same error dialog box and black screen, seems to indicate that whatever is causing this error is propagating backwards to previous system restore configurations. Or, System Restore process is not completely restoring the system to the previous configuration settings. I tried this at other System Restore points several days, and weeks, before the iTunes update with the same results. There have been no other configuration changes to this system for months prior to the iTunes update.

    Based on the above diagnostic testing results I have concluded that the problem is isolated to the files and configuration (registry) settings of a single user account profile (see item #6 above). I can’t conclude yet that the iTunes update is the precise cause of my problem, but I still remain suspicious of it. I would like to be able to identify the exact problem file or registry setting so that it could be fixed, without having to backup and reinstall the operating system (solution via scalpel versus jackhammer). So I am requesting assistance from the Microsoft and Vista community to identify potential solutions to this issue that fit the scalpel approach. I am open to other ideas and diagnostic tests, and can provide additional information if I have left anything out of my long-winded description. Thanks.
     
    jboyce, Feb 13, 2011
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  2. jboyce

    WAW8

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    WAW8, Feb 15, 2011
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  3. jboyce

    jboyce

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    I am going to look into verifying whether this dll file is the proper version for my system, and possibly replacing it. Since the sfc /scannow test did not show any problems, the file might not be corrupt, but just the wrong version. I have a little more research to do and will post back after trying this. Thanks.

    Jeff
     
    jboyce, Feb 15, 2011
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  4. jboyce

    jboyce

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    This was clearly a registry problem isolated to a single user account. I was not able to identify the specific registry error that was causing the problem, but I did solve the problem without having to re-install the OS or even move everything to a new account.

    Solution:
    Created a new user account with administrative access. Logged into this new account, which did not produce a black screen error. Ran all the Windows updates that were available for the system. Then uninstalled all Apple software (iTunes, Quicktime, Safari, Bonjour, and other supporting software that got installed with them). Ran a disk cleanup, then rebooted. After logging into my original user account (the one that was generating the black screen), my original desktop came back as if everything was normal again (i.e., no black screen error). I then re-installed iTunes, imported my music library playlists, and everything is back to normal. My assumption is that the Vista OS updates cleaned, corrected, or updated the specific registry point that was causing my error. I hope this discussion can help someone else in the future.
     
    jboyce, Feb 23, 2011
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