What is explorer.exe? Should I remove it?

by Jake Doevan - -

explorer.exe is a legitimate Windows file but sometimes causes problems

explorer.exe is an executable file for the process called Windows Explorer (File Explorer in newer Windows versions) and can be found on all Windows operating systems (starting from Windows 95). The file is located in C:\Windows folder and has a size ranging from 1,0321,292 bytes to 3,194,368 bytes. This executable is largely responsible for supporting user interface, allowing the users to conveniently access file systems.

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 Reimage 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. 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] creators usually use this file to disguise their malicious creations. 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 payload is executed, the virus makes certain changes to Windows settings, such as Registry Key modification. This allows the virus to boot up every time the operating system is booted. Additionally, some of these viruses might avoid detection of security software. In that case, it is worth downloading and installing a reputable anti-malware program and starting it in Safe mode with networking.

If you are doubting if the explorer.exe is a virus or legitimate program executable, simply perform a full system scan with Reimage. You should get especially concerned if you see multiple instances of this file running at the same time.

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, corrupt ads or infectious links that are displayed on unsafe websites.

Unfortunately, according to researchers[2], having a reputable 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[3] 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

Unless explorer.exe is a legitimate system file, you should remove it and get rid of its related components as well. For the regular home user, spotting fake files among the legitimate ones may be quite complicated. Thus, we highly recommend using Reimage to recognize the corrupt content. 

If you have no other choice but to remove the malware manually, you should thoroughly examine explorer.exe before completely deleting it from the system.

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What to do if failed?
If you failed to remove virus damage using Reimage, submit a question to our support team and provide as much details as possible.
Reimage is a recommended tool to scan your system for possible threats and crappy software. The trial version of the product will find harmful applications in your system.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with SpyHunter.
Alternative Software
Different security software includes different virus database. If you didn’t succeed in finding malware with Reimage, try running alternative scan with Combo Cleaner.

About the author

Jake Doevan
Jake Doevan - Computer technology expert

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