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Unremovable Microsoft Windows Error - "to help protect your computer, Windows has closed this program" about explorer.exe

That's how it starts, with that error about explorer.exe, and if you close it, a debug window shows up.  If you delete that window, you get the error about explorer.exe, and if you close it, a debug window shows up.  Rinse and repeat.

I just wasted hours on this, so I hope I save you time.

My configuration

  • Windows XP
    • I still use IE6 on this machine because
      • its more annoying to deal with bookmarks
      • it wastes extra toolbar space for two search boxes
      • less control of some things
      • other things I hated
      • I probably should update it, and just deal with IE7
  • Installed programs
    • Microsoft Office 2003, riddled with bugs
    • Adobe Dreamweaver, riddled with bugs
    • Copernic, which just doesn't find things
  • HP machine, just over 2 years old
    • Therefore, its ridiculously slow and unreliable, and is probably the source of all problems.
    • Its death by paper cuts, but I don’t have the 3 days to rebuild it.
    • Have to reboot it at least once a day, hangs for no reason, typical Microsoft stuff.
    • Note to self – buy a Mac or Linux machine.
    • Note to self – beat up Bill Gates next time I see him. Dirtbag should take some of his $50 million and fix it.  I'd call him more than a dirtbag, but this is a family show.


I installed the new Google Toolbar 6 that they talk about on Google’s home page. Started getting problems almost immediately. 

Got a pop up box from Windows Explorer that said

“to help protect your computer, Windows has closed this program”

and it said it was closing the program explorer.exe, so you know this was going to be end badly.  By the way, explorer.exe is not the same program as iexplorer.exe, which is the program run by Internet Explorer.

Note - Internet Explorer currently takes about 15 seconds to start up on a good day.
Note to self – buy a Mac or Linux machine.
Note to self – beat up Bill Gates next time I see him. Dirtbag.

In typical Microsoft fashion, I close that box, and a debug box appears. I close that and the original box reappears. It won’t let me restart or do anything else. It’s just cycling between the two boxes, and no other options.  If you're here, you've seen it.

I also noticed that Google put a ¾ inch wide box that says Google in the lower left hand corner of the system tray. I didn’t ask for it, didn’t want it, was pissed about it when I saw it.  It was also related to the problem.

I reboot, which at this point takes over 10-15 minutes because my windows PC is 2 years old. I hate Microsoft. Re-read previous notes.

Same problem. Now I can’t control it, and it takes 10-15 minutes between reboots.

I reboot again a few times, but on the last try , I’m trying to jump in to stop things when I can.

Key breakthrough:

  • I click on the Google box in the system tray as soon as it appears after startup.
  • I get a pop up.
  • In the upper right hand corner of the box, there is a drop down option that allows you to tell this Google option to Exit...
  • There is a check box you can uncheck to NOT make this little Google feature come up at start up, so I uncheck it.

I reboot, and things appear to be OK now, but I wasted hours.  It's probably Microsoft's fault, because my machine is so unstable.  I don't do anything crazy with this machine.  Its just typical Microsoft crap, and every 1-2 years, you have to take 3 days to

  • move your data
  • rebuild your whole machine
  • reinstall all products
  • find all updates
  • rearrange your bookmarks
  • restore all other things, like the cookies lost and usernames/passwords remembered that are now forgotten

Note to YOU – buy a Mac or Linux machine.
Note to YOU – beat up Bill Gates next time you see him. Dirtbag

If this helped, please email me at


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