What is Explorer.exe? Should I remove it?

Explorer.exe is a legitimate Windows process responsible for file management UI

Explorer.exe is an executable file for the process called Windows Explorer and can be found on all Windows operating systems (starting from Windows 95). This Graphical Shell component is responsible for displaying a user-friendly interface that allows access, copy, delete, cut, and perform other actions with files located on the system, as well as connected networks. Explorer.exe  is located in C:\Windows folder and its sizes range from 1,0321,292 bytes to 3,194,368 bytes

While Explorer.exe is a handy and mandatory component of Windows operating system, users might sometimes encounter problems due to it, i.e., frozen desktop, problems clicking on executables, inability to use Start menu or similar issues.

Additionally, all executable files might be replaced, corrupted or duplicated by malware; so if your computer is slow, you noticed an increased amount of ads on web browsers, your software crashes, there is a chance that a computer virus has taken over the legitimate Explorer.exe process.

Name Explorer.exe
Type System file
Purpose Launches a user interface
Possible danger If misused, can be malicious and perform various background processes
Distribution Malicious version spreads by using spam email attachments, software bundles
Removal Download and use FortectIntego for the full diagnosis

Even though controlling the computer without explorer.exe is possible, its malfunctions may cause serious issues. If the explorer.exe crashes, this process can be terminated or restarted through Windows Task Manager. Here's how to do it:

  • Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager
  • At the bottom-left corner, click More details
  • Sort tasks by name, and locate Windows Explorer
  • Right-click on the process and press Restart

This feature is quite useful, as it can be used instead of computer restart, including after modification of registry entries, or if any part of Windows graphical interface is acting up or crashing.

Nevertheless, this error may also signify something completely different and even demand explorer.exe removal. Malware[1] developers can utilize the name of Explorer.exe for malicious deeds in order to create fewer suspicions. In such a case, the primary purpose of this executable is to start a parasite or launch some of its components.

As soon as the malicious Explorer.exe payload is executed, the virus makes certain changes to Windows settings, such as modifying registry keys, implementing new scheduled tasks. This allows the virus to boot up every time the operating system is started, and allow attackers to control the computer remotely or steal sensitive information of victims.

Therefore, you might have to remove Explorer.exe if it is, in fact, a virus. One of the major signs for that is when several instances of the process are running at the same time, although the file might also be a part of Intel, Spark, Apple, Avast or BitTorrent software.

Therefore, the best way to find out if Explorer.exe is malicious is by scanning your computer with anti-malware software. If the security application finds malware, it should remove it automatically. Nevertheless, if the virus is persistent and tries to disable security tools, you should enter Safe Mode with Networking and perform a scan from there. Additionally, we recommend using FortectIntego to quickly fix virus damage and get your system back on track.

Depending on the malware type, you might have to reset Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, or any other browser that you have installed on your device, as some malicious programs are capable of intercepting internet traffic, extracting cookies, or even taking screenshots of sensitive information.

Don't forget that problems with Explorer.exe do not necessarily mean malware infection, so you need to make sure that Explorer.exe is indeed infected before deleting it.

Distribution methods of malicious programs

As we have already pointed out, the legitimate explorer.exe file usually comes together with your operating system. Nevertheless, malicious files are brought in by malware.

Such potentially unwanted programs infect computers with the help of various malicious distribution techniques, including software bundling, spam emails, web injects, exploits,[2] or infectious links that are displayed on unsafe websites.

Unfortunately, according to researchers[3], having an important security tool installed on your machine is not enough. You must also take care of your and computer's security. Please remember the following tips:

  • When installing freeware[4] from the internet, always pick Advanced/Custom installation mode instead of a recommended one. This will allow you to eliminate all the additional components within free software installers;
  • Avoid opening emails from unknown sources. Never click on links or execute attached files inside spam emails;
  • Do not click on suspicious ads and leave the webpage if you go redirected to the questionable site;
  • Avoid file-sharing sites and clients (eMule, torrent clients, and sites);
  • Update operating system and software immediately;
  • Invest in a robust anti-virus program;
  • Regularly back up all your files on external storage.

Keep the explorer.exe if it is legitimate and useful

In most of the cases, there is no need to remove Explorer.exe, as it would be hard to navigate through the files and folders located on local or a connected drive (third-party UI software does exist, however). Therefore, rather than deleting it, troubleshoot the problems manually or employ PC repair software FortectIntego. It can automatically fix various issues you might be having with Explorer.exe process, be it increased CPU usage, the slowdown of the computer, or constant crashes.

However, as we previously mentioned, Explorer.exe might be malicious – spawned by malware. Several viruses might be disguised as the process, such as Reoxtan, DlDer, Blockey, Zhong, and many others. Each of them can perform a variety of malicious tasks that can result in money loss, personal and sensitive information compromise, as well as additional malware infection.

Therefore, for full Explorer.exe virus removal, make sure you install and scan the computer with anti-malware software. If the virus is located and deleted, make sure also to reset all the installed browsers and use FortectIntego to fix the infected Windows system files.

do it now!
Fortect Happiness
Intego Happiness
Compatible with Microsoft Windows Compatible with macOS
What to do if failed?
If you failed to fix virus damage using Fortect Intego, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Fortect Intego has a free limited scanner. Fortect Intego offers more through scan when you purchase its full version. When free scanner detects issues, you can fix them using free manual repairs or you can decide to purchase the full version in order to fix them automatically.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Fortect, try running SpyHunter 5.
Alternative Software
Different software has a different purpose. If you didn’t succeed in fixing corrupted files with Intego, try running Combo Cleaner.
About the author
Jake Doevan
Jake Doevan - Computer technology expert

If this free guide helped you and you are satisfied with our service, please consider making a donation to keep this service alive. Even a smallest amount will be appreciated.

Contact Jake Doevan
About the company Esolutions

Removal guides in other languages