Fix Windows 8 (8.1) File Explorer Has Stopped Working

Judging from the number of complaints lodged in Microsoft forums and other support mediums sited across the internet, the error “Windows Explorer has stopped working” is dominating the playing field. Windows Explorer is one of the crucial programs of OS responsible for managing computer files and exploring PC folders. Originally integrated in Windows 95, this essential tool serves as a hierarchical display of all directories, documents and drives, and eases various functions handy to any user including file renaming, copying, relocating, etc.

Prior to proceeding this piece for the solution, let be advised to first Scan and Fix your system’s concealed disorders which most probably are the problem triggers:

  • Step 1 : Download Systimizer – PC Cleaner & Internet Booster (Intel Premier Partner – Works on Windows 10, 8, 7 & XP).
  • Step 2 : Click “Scan” to find system errors.
  • Step 3 : Click “Fix” to repair all problems.


Regrettably, this vital organ is prone to critical crashes and results in dire consequences, example sudden computer hangs, and annoying PC restarts. Responding to the widespread calamities dispensed by this problem, this article attempts at identifying the various reasons of Explorer shutdowns, and describes numerous methods aimed at eliminating these displeasures entirely from the system. Refer to the solutions below to ensure your rectifying journey is kept at the right track.

Solution 1: Update Video Driver

Windows Explorer makes use of visual graphics to display its content. Outdated or damaged video driver can cause this component to fail, resulting in an explorer error. To work around this problem, either install the latest updates automatically via the Windows Update tool, or visit the manufacturer’s website to manually integrate any new advancements. However, my preference would be the former.

Use Windows Update from the settings bar, shown below:

  • Open Charms bar by pressing Windows + C keys
  • Choose Settings
  • Click Change PC settings
  • Navigate to Update and recovery
  • Click Check now, and wait while Windows checks for any latest updates
  • If found, click Install updates
  • Go through and accept the license terms, and click Finish if the update requires it

Solution 2: Check You Files Using System File Checker (SFC)

Missing or corrupted system files can uproot Windows capabilities, and lead to critical PC errors. To resolve this issue, scan your OS for such matters using System File Checker in the elevated command prompt:

Note: if prompted, insert Windows 8.1 installation media to allow the computer extract certain information needed to repair the problem

  • Enter Start menu by pressing Windows key
  • Type cmd
  • Right-click Command Prompt from the results and choose Run as administrator from the bottom menu
  • In the elevated window, type sfc /scannow and press Enter
  • Wait for the Windows to search and repair any corrupted/missing data

Try reproducing the fault by following the same activities as before. If the issue reappears, move on to these other solutions.

Solution 3: Disable Thumbnail View

When trying to access larger-sized data, example multimedia archive on your network storage, Windows attempts to generate contacted versions of pictures, called thumbnail images. Often, this procedure overburdens the system and causes the explorer to halt its processes. If you are willing to compromise on pictorial illustrations for better performances, disable thumbnails option and stop generating images instigating the glitch:

  • Enter Start Screen (Windows key)
  • Type control panel and click the icon from the search results  
  • From Control Panel window, go to Appearance and Personalization
  • Click Folder Options
  • Enter View tab
  • Check Always show icons, never thumbnails
  • Uncheck display file icon on thumbnails
  • Click OK

Cruise through the same directories previously triggering the error and notice for any malfunctions. If this method did not help your cause, undo the folder settings changes, and proceed to other alternatives.

Solution 4: Identify the error-inflicted application using Action Center

To pinpoint the error-instigating identity, use Windows investigation tool called Action Center. This utility reveals the process details, and guides the user towards a more specific repairing procedure. To use this software, execute these steps:

  • From the Start Screen, type action center
  • Click Action Center listed under Settings category
  • Click Maintenance
  • Choose View reliability history
  • In Reliability Monitor window, select View all problem reports
  • Scroll down to the list of Windows Explorer items
  • Double-click Stopped working to view the technical details
  • Verify the menace listed alongside Fault Module Name

Interrogate the module further by visiting its developer’s website or contacting the concerned authorities directly. Also, verify its integrity consulting Microsoft.

Solution 5: System Restore

If the illustrations above did not resolve the issue, you can perform a System Restore to return the PC to an earlier working state. This will undo all alterations made to the system and remove the possible culprits pooling towards the explorer trouble. To take this route, refer to these steps:

  • Access Start Screen
  • Type Restore
  • Choose Create a restore point from the results
  • Click System Restore button
  • Click Next on the opened System Restore box
  • Highlight the desired restore point and click Next
  • Click Finish
  • Confirm your decision by select Yes on the Once started System Restore cannot be interrupted. Do you want to continue box.

Additional Solutions

The methods described below are less common, but can still cause Windows Explorer to stop working.

Disable any monitoring tool

Certain monitoring tools, including everest, HWmonitor, pc wiz etc. are known to conflict with explorer operations and generate the fault. Try disabling these programs from the startup menu and see if the issue disappears. Here is how to do it in Windows 8.x:

  • Open Task Manager by pressing Windows + SHIFT + ESC keys
  • Enter Statup tab from the top
  • Highlight any unwanted startup program and click Disable

Remove Viruses and Malware

Uninvited guests housing on your PC can injure crucial applications and dampen system processes. Use your favorite antivirus software to scrub off these harmful elements and ensure optimal Explorer conditions. Furthermore, keep updating the security software to defend against the different types of computer viruses.

Clear your System’s RAM from Memory Problems

Acknowledging the importance of holding key instructions and application codes, faulty RAM can cause irregular behaviors within Windows. To check for these errors, use the built-in memory diagnostic tool, described below:

  • Press Windows key
  • Type memory
  • Click Diagnose your computer’s memory problems to open Windows Memory Diagnostic
  • Click Restart now and check for problems
  • Allow OS to automatically scan and repair ruined memory values

If none of the solutions listed in this article fixed your matter, refresh your operating system using the PC refresh utility. This will keep your personal settings and files unharmed, while reinstall Windows 8.1 to erase all suspects causing Windows Explorer to crash unexpectedly. To refresh your PC, perform these methods:

  • Point to the top edge of the screen and drag down to choose Settings
  • Click Change PC settings
  • Navigate to Update and recovery
  • Select Recovery
  • Under Refresh your PC without affecting your files, click Get started
  • Follow on-screen instructions to refresh Windows 8.1

Once refreshed, work as you normally do and perform the same actions that previously resulted in your trouble. If you are still receiving the error message, completely reinstall Windows and nuke all data from the system. Rest assured, this is a guaranteed fix to your concern.

To perform a PC Reset and demolish all content, carry out below-mentioned procedure:

  • Open charms bar (Windows + C) and click Settings
  • Choose Change PC settings
  • Go to Update and recovery
  • Click Recovery
  • Under Remove everything and reinstall Windows, click Recovery

3 Thoughts on “Fix Windows 8 (8.1) File Explorer Has Stopped Working

  1. Wicher on May 23, 2015 at 2:08 pm said:

    Windows explorer was very often “not responding” and very slow in general. I decided to skip the first solutions and try “Solution 3: Disable Thumbnail View” directly. It really did a lot of good. Windows explorer isn’t slow anymore and I haven’t had it “not responding” while switching between maps, files, and when using right clicks, files also open a little bit faster.
    I don’t understand how such a small change made such a big impact on essential things. It seems that this wasn’t tested properly for my laptop since it is fairly new and windows explorer started giving me problems after only a couple of weeks.

  2. Patriot on July 25, 2015 at 8:57 pm said:

    90% of the Internet Explorer issues I fix are from having Google Chrome installed or other browsers. Malware downloaded through these browsers have the ability to corrupt IE functions and even block it from Opening. Chrome no longer supports addins as of April 2015 such as Flash, Java, Silverlight and others. Other browsers are not supported by the add ons.

    • becca on May 4, 2016 at 2:41 am said:

      we have tried all of the above & still nothing is working to resolve this issue. in fact the last 2 steps, we click on get started & nothing happens….nothing. reading your comments regarding google chrome is making us uninstall it & see if that helps. as of this minute we have no idea what is going to help us make this work again…..ARRRRGH!!!!

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