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Debugging Win10 Explorer Crashes

Checked Reliability Monitor today, and was surprised to see Explorer.exe threw off 4 crashes in the last few days. Debugging Explorer crashes is an interesting exercise. All of these originate from BEX64, which points to another program hooked into File Explorer. You can learn a lot from reading this TenForums thread: Intermittent BEX64 Explorer.exe crash. Here’s what I saw in Reliability Monitor (summary left, details right).

All 4 crashes list BEX64 as the Event name, though some have differing Fault Module Name sources.
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Debugging Win10 Explorer Crashes Is Both Art and Science

My tool of choice for troubleshooting BEX64 Explorer crashes is Nir Sofer’s Shell Extension Viewer. He calls it ShellExView, but its executable is shexview.exe. Blissfully unaware, it took me a while to find it in NirLauncher. Because the error hit on and after November 2, I sorted Shell Extensions chronologically. Thus, I could see what was installed that day. Interestingly, only Microsoft elements fall under that rubric, thanks to what looks like a Windows Office update that day. I see extensions for OneNote, Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio and Word. This is weird, because MS extensions seldom, if ever, cause problems. It’s usually third-party stuff that sends Explorer off the rails.

Scanning a bit further down the list I see the latest PowerToy: PowerRename‘s Shell Extension. Then it hits me: I remember clicking the PowerToys icon a few times after the tool came out, not understanding that this shell extension works only from inside File Explorer. I ran it from the desktop without thinking, before I did my homework right around the time of those crashes. I’m pretty sure this was what caused the problem. Worse, it is definitely a self-inflicted wound. MS did nothing to cause it because “operator error” is behind those actions.

I have to laugh, and at myself. But “double-click it and see what happens” remains an experimental strategy I’m unlikely to retire from the Windows desktop. So I’ll just take my lumps and keep on going. Hopefully, those of you who’ve grabbed this latest PowerToy can learn from my mistake. If you look for the PowerRename item in the right-click menu inside File Explorer for file or folder items, you can check it out as it was meant to be used. Sigh.