This problem dates back to Vista, according to Microsoft.com webpages. And over the years, MS just responds the same way: try safe mode, SFC, etc, to identify a non-Microsoft culprit. Well, I used XP Pro for many years, only upgrading in July 2012, to Win7. And this problem never ever occurred on XP Pro. It's very clearly a Microsoft Windows problem. And if it's triggered by a variety of other software, then it's still a Windows problem, since the purpose of Windows to provide a system where other software and hardware can operate.
I tried many of the proposed solutions from various forum threads -- some going for 40+ pages. Nothing has worked. I've not edited my registry because that doesn't appear successful from what I've read, and it would probably require a restart to implement, and then my problem might disappear for a while.
Anyway, I have xplorer2 pro, which cost me $30 for a lifetime of version upgrades. I used it on XP Pro (after I suffered explorer & drwatson crashes in XP :( -- but the good news is that xplorer2 pro is a superb product w/ an unbelievably detailed manual. In my own use, I've barely scratched the surface of what it can do, but it serves me well, and I presume it will solve this problem. (My only gripe w/ xplorer2 is the lack of an undo. It does have a menu command to go to the last drop target, for drag-n-drop errors, but an undo would be better, esp since the recycle bin misses things sometimes ..and the old norton protected bin is no longer an option -- though I used it as long as I could, disabling/deleting everything else in the utilities suite.)
Sorry, I do digress. Anyhow, I've no vested interest, but I do encourage people to try xplorer2 -- the free version or the Pro version. A no-registry portable edition is available too. And for the other end, if you look, you'll find a instructions for editing the registry so xplorer2 replaces explorer in nearly every instance where explorer would otherwise appear (save as dialogs & the like excepted).