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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fixed! Windows XP EXPLORER.EXE 100% CPU High Utilization

A couple of days ago, I posted the fixes I ran into with performance problems with Windows XP and svchost.exe. Since that time, the site has received a number of visits from folks experiencing that issue. In addition, I have received a number of emails regarding similar problems with the Windows XP EXPLORE.EXE (not iexplore.exe) using high amounts of CPU or processor time, even running at 100%.

Because of that, I put together a short guide on the top problems that are run into with Windows XP, regardless of the edition: Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional, Service Pack 1 (SP1), and Service Pack 2 (SP2). Here are the most common issues with the EXPLORER.EXE process consuming 100% CPU. Hopefully they solve your problems!

  1. Virus or Spyware. This the first that that everyone points to whenever there is a problem. A couple of tools that I recommend is Grisoft's AVG Free Edition. It is a completely free and effective virus prevention software. For spyware, check out Spybot Search & Destroy -- it's an effective way to remove Spyware.
  2. Windows Explorer configuration. Configure the Windows XP process explore.exe to be the most efficient. First open Windows Explorer. Next, click on Tools --> Folder Options. Click on the 'View' tab. Make sure to uncheck 'Automatically search for network folders and printers' and check 'Launch folder windows in a separate process'. Click on 'Apply'. Click on 'Apply to All Folders'. Click 'Ok'.
  3. Winzip or zip functionality in Windows. Sometimes by re-registering a .dll in the Microsoft Windows XP system will fix the issue. Go to Start --> Run and enter the following command: "regsvr32 C:\windows\system32\zipfldr.dll /u"
  4. There may be a bug in Windows XP that causing Windows Explorer (explore.exe) to read the entire contents of broken AVI files before allowing any access, caused by issues shmedia.dll. This problem causes Windows Explorer to read the entire contents of an AVI file, regardless of its size or location any time the mouse pointer is hovered over it, or an attempt is made to access it through Windows Explorer. This causes 'permission denied' errors when trying to simply move, copy or delete these files as they cannot be changed while Explorer has an open handle on them. To correct this misbehavior in Windows XP, remove the following registry key. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\CLSID\{87D62D94-71B3-4b9a-9489-5FE6850DC73E}\InProcServer32

    This will prevent Explorer from loading shmedia.dll in response to file property queries on these files. This will not affect your ability to play files, get file attributes, or even view thumbnails. This tends to resolve explorer.exe 100% CPU issues.

    Another path to this fix includes resetting the values for the following two registry keys, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\CLSID\{87D62D94-71B3-4b9a-9489-5FE6850DC73E}\InProcServer32 - shmedia.dll & HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\.avi\shellex\PropertyHandler. Open up regedit. Next go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\.avi\shellex\PropertyHandler. Then change the "Default" value which should be "87D62D94-71B3-4b9a-9489-5FE6850DC73E" to "0". Finally, reboot.

Hopefully these fixes will solve your Windows XP issues! This article was accurate at the time it was posted and the poster makes no warranties or guarantess about the contents of this article.

Did this solution work for you? Please let me know with a comment!

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Gopi said...

I have had similar issues. After searching a lot I have come across the below posting. It is really helpful.

Download Process Explorer and right click on explorer.exe, go to properties and kill the thread which has the issue.

Ken Hanscom said...

The problem with this solution is that it is only a temporary fix. Everytime you boot up your machine again or have problems -- you have to do it again. So, while it may be a tempoaray solution for Microsoft's problem, it is definitely annoying!

--Joe said...

These actions somewhat fixed the problem I am having with a friends computer I've been cleaning up. It had a lot of ad ware and some spy ware I have successfully removed. The explorer problem was still there even after the cleanup, so I was glad to find your entry. After applying your fixes I rebooted and the system still freezes when I start explorer for a minute or so. That's much better than before when I had to kill explorer from the task manager to get explorer to "let go" of the CPU. Then start explorer again from Task Manager
I appreciate finding this post because the problem does seem reduced.
I have also read that the cause of the 100% CPU usage could be caused by any file corruption or even some corruption in the registry.
I ran chkdsk and and found/repaired some issues. I'll need to check to make sure the hard disk is not failing now.

Anonymous said...

Excellent ,, That was it the AVI's

It Really resembles a virus prob, but it ain't one.

Joe Bloggs said...

This problem occurs usually after the introduction of corrupt AVI files (although not allways the case). The best temporary solution for me was to open task manager and reduce the priority of explorer.exe to below normal and set the affinity to one processor. This allowed me to work without hanging/freezing. I systematically deleted all the suspect .avi files - no success, then I worked on the .mp4 files until I found one that I couldn't delete because the os was "busy" working on it. I shut down explorer and ran cmd from the task manager, deleted the offending file using the CLI, ran explorer again - problem solved. I restored the rest of my .AVI's from the recycle bin. Job done.

Anonymous said...

I am by know means an expert and the explorer.exe using 100% cpu was driving me crazy. I used a free utility called PROCMON and found that explorer was using all it's cpu trying to read the files "wnl32.dll & wnl32.dll.dll". Apparently these are malware files, but AdAware and SpyBot did not clean them out. Finally I used ComboFix (which is a powerful and potentially dangerous to your system) and the problem is fixed. This is where I found the information and is more detailed.
I hope this helps some of you.

Potele said...

YEAH!!! Thanks a lot, man! That fixed my problem (the corrupted AVI one). It's weird, though, my XP is on SP3: shouldn't that bug on shmedia.dll be fixed already???

Anonymous said...

I can't thank you enough - this issue has been plaguing me for months!!! I thought it was a RAM issue - but it didn't go away after I installed more RAM - actually got *worse*! Now my computer starts up in no time flat and everything is running lickety-split. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :D

Anonymous said...

Great, deleting the process key fixed my XP Pro 90% utilization problem - Many thanx for taking the time to document these solutions.

Arash said...

Thanks so much for this great article, deleting the registery key solved my windows explorer problem, also using processExplorer I found that a video codec installed by Nokia PC Suite application is taking CPU time when I close the media player for a few minutes after closing, I uninstalled that as well.

I almost was going to change my Hard drive, and then my computer.

Anonymous said...

Again, an old thread so becareful of adding microsoft kb fixes.

Yes to avi file problem.

Agreed that suspending thread under svchost is temp fix and not the best way to fix but is indeed the proper path to fixing the problem for good. More forensics is needed.

Explorer also allows one to "choose details" when right clicking the tiny toolbar just above the filename.
You could uncheck everything in "choose details/more",the applying to all folders in "tools/folder options/apply to all folders" but, like me, I have quite a bit of mp3 files in several extremely large directories and the same for .avi files and I like to see the bitrate and genere and some other info...bit rate seems to be the slow down.
There are several fixes on the net for the avi files. One is for preview and unticking anything related to movie files in "choose details/more" will help cut down scanning movie file times to look for said info.
I used tweakxp for all the tweaks but I am sure other sites have it to.

I found "bit rate" to be sole offender in my case,in mp3 file directories.....unticking will greatly improve explorer. I used to have bit rate said for every explorer opening, but that made it worse. I now leave "bit Rate" unticked and just tick when I need to check the bit rate quickly.

There is another 100% load issue where a movie file is highlight and you get the issue as well.You can tell if this is the case if it won't move or delete because it is in use by explorer.It must be the preview option on.I hate explorer and wish it wasnt part of the kernel.

One last explorer/view, untick "Details" this will prevent the no moving/deleting problem and does indeed stop 100% cpu on opening explorer windows from taking too long to read the details and keeping 100% load.

good luck

Anonymous said...

Worked!!! Thank you so much. Deleting the registry entries solved it.

Brian said...

Deleting the registry entries worked for my problem. THANKS!!

Anyone know of a good free tool to scan media files for corruption issues to prevent this kind of thing?

Ritesh said...

hey buddy this is not working ...
give me a good solution...

yy said...

Good Post,helpful

Achmad said...

Terima kasih ^_^

Priyank said...

oh man.. you are a life saviour... deleting the registries solved the problem for me.. i was really fed up with this for the last one week.. really appreciate your resolution..

levski said...

This worked for me.

I found what must have been a corrupt .AVI file. I could not delete or send it to the recycle bin as it said 'being used by another program' i.e Explorer)

So I deleted the .AVI from the command line and the problem went away.

Thank you for your help.

Anonymous said...


I followed all the steps you listed and it worked perfectly. I'm running XP Pro on a MacBookPro under VMWare Fusion. I just got this new laptop a few months ago. Everything was working great until this morning when the big slow down happened. I don't know what caused it, but EXPLORER.EXE was hogging all the CPU. I tried just killing it from Task Manager, but then I lost my start menu, process bar and system tray --- not good. I found your solution and all is good.

Thanks so much for a REAL ANSWER!

Steve in KC, MO.

freak said...

I am seeing this issue, but there are no avi files in the folder in question. I have tracked t down to a mp4 file. also my regedit has no system file associations listed for flv or mp4 files any help or knowledge on that?

Anonymous said...

had the same issue,the problem is the flv file, so i convert it and delete the original and it work fine....

Robert L Duke said...

Thank you so very much.All of the computers I have except one I bought new(my laptop)have been built by me from Goodwill parts "a new part every now and then" they do what I want them to do.Except use all of my old school cpu power which ain't much (amd 3200+)& (celeron)doing NOTHING!.I've fought this problem for 2 years until I ran into this blog.Now they work like "new" I owe you lunch,Many Thanks!!!for this fix

Anonymous said...

help im have problems with windows 7 same with the avi problem cpu 100% usage// please help

Dave Neale said...

Thank you very much. That fixed my problem.

Anonymous said...

Deleting the registry key didn't work for me. So I went looking for corrupt .avi files and found a few. As was mentioned above, I couldn't delete them because they were still being accessed by explorer.exe. So I opened the Command Prompt (found in Accessories), then shut down explorer.exe via Task Manager, then went back to the Command Prompt and deleted the files. Had to google how to delete undeletable files to get detailed instructions how to do this. But it's done now and I'm through with those wretched .avi files that were causing all the problems. Many thanks to you and to the people who have left comments.

Anonymous said...

I had the same, reinstall your codec pack

Anonymous said...

wow, thanks for the great tips. Removing the registry key did the trick. I have an IT guy who a) never wants to try anything and b) doesn't ever seem to be up on viruses and their cures. His solution is to reimage my computer every time. I am left to my own devices and I am glad I stumbled across your posting. Nice Blog.

Predrag said...

When I disable kaspersky6.0.4.1212 all the same, my process svchost or explorer.exe used 50%. But when I remove kaspersky in system everythng is OK. You must reinstall antivirus program.

Ing. Ricardo Jose said...


registering the zip dll did the trick for me, cpu was at 100% of use when i right click a zip file, not matter good or corrupt zip