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Since yesterday I have two error boxes popping up as soon as I log in to my Windows XP (SP3) account announcing:

Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime Library
Runtime error!
Program: C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe  
This application has requested the Runtime to terminate it in an unusual way.

There are no strange services running and no errors in the system or application event log. Any ideas how to trace what causes this error? I have scanned for viruses, and run the sfc (system file checker).

Thanks for any help or suggestions.

I've uninstalled a few applications that I had recently installed (MS Visual C# 2010 Express, Visual Web Developer, SQL Server 2008 and with it a Visual C++ 2010 Runtime as well as MySQL Workbench) and my problem was solved. Is anyone aware of incompatibilities with Windows XP SP3? Is there any way to pinpoint the problem without randomly guessing what is clashing on your system?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Windows Explorer does not use the Visual C++ runtime. The problem is caused by code injected into explorer.exe. From what you are describing, that code could have a dependency on Visual C++ 2010 Runtime and would fail to run when it is missing. Uninstalling the Visual C++ 2010 Runtime is not the solution, the Runtime is popular among developers and you may get the runtime back when you install some other software that depends on the runtime.

There are many ways to inject code into explorer.exe, from Shell extensions to software keyboards, from virus to global hooks. You can use the freeware tool ShellExView to list (and potentially disable) shell extensions. As of checking what DLL got loaded into explorer.exe you can use Process Explorer from sysinternals.

Since it looks like you are a software developer, you probably can look into the crash dump. When explorer crash, save a crash dump and analyze the dump in windbg to see what is really going on.

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Great references and recommendations. Thanks! – JannieT Aug 18 '14 at 6:31

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