Fix Windows Explorer Has Stopped Working Error in Windows 7

A client of mine called recently saying that his Windows 7 machine kept popping up with a dialog box with the following error message:

Windows Explorer Has Stopped Working

He would get this error message in all kinds of different situations like opening the Control Panel, right-clicking on the folder, and while performing other simple tasks.

After troubleshooting for a few hours, we were able to finally get rid of the error. If Windows Explorer keeps stopping and restarting on your Windows XP, Vista or 7 machine, try out the following possible solutions.

Method 1 – Disable UAC

If you’re running Windows Vista, turning off UAC might help solve your problem. It’s been noted in many forums that there is some strange issue with UAC that causes Explorer to stop working.

Check out the posts below on how to turn off UAC in Vista and 7:

Turn off UAC in Windows Vista

Turn off UAC in Windows 7

turn off uac

Method 2 – Uninstall/Update Drivers

Windows Explorer can also stop working if there is a driver that is not compatible with the current operating system. If you recently installed a new driver for a sound card, graphics card, hard drive, network card, etc, then try to roll back the driver and see if that solves your problem.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 2.04.13 AM.png

Sometimes you may need to update a driver also, so in that case, go to the manufacture’s website and download the latest versions of all your drivers.

People have also reported having this problem in Windows 7 with NVIDIA drivers. A newer version of the driver may actually cause the issue, so it might be worth trying to uninstalling the driver and installing an older version.

Method 3 – Uninstall Software

It’s amazing how many problems anti-virus and anti-spyware programs can cause on a system. If you’re running Symantec or McAfee or any other huge anti-everything program, try uninstalling it and see if the Explorer has stopped working error goes away.

If you recently downloaded some other third-party program right before the error starting showing up, then try to remove those programs also. Also, if you get this error when right-clicking on a folder, icon, etc, it’s probably because there is some new item in your right-click context menu. Make sure to uninstall the program that added the item to the right-click menu.

If you’re not sure what application is causing the problem, you can always to to the Event Viewer in the Control Panel and check out the application log to see which errors are being generated.

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 2.13.19 AM.png

Method 4 – Firefox Add-ons

Another possible reason I’ve read about is that some add-ons in Firefox can cause Explorer.exe to crash. If you have Firefox and have a bunch of add-ons installed, try disabling all of them and see if the problem goes away.

Method 5 – Folder View

You can also try changing a folder view option in Explorer and hope that fixes it. Now we’re getting into desperate solutions, but you never know!

Go into Tools, Folder Options, and click on the View tab. Then uncheck the box that says “Display File Icons on Thumbnails

Screen shot 2010-08-28 at 2.30.11 AM.png

Another other solutions to this timeless and annoying Windows error? If so, post your comment here and help us all!

Fix COM Surrogate has Stopped Working in Windows 7

I was playing around with one of my virtual machines running Windows 7 the other day, when I ran into a bit of a problem. I was trying to right-click on My Computer and choose Properties and got the following error message:

Runtime error!

Program: C:\Windows\SysWOW64\DllHost.exe

After clicking on OK, I get an message stating that COM Surrogate has stopped working.

com surrogate has stopped working

If I click Cancel a few times, it eventually goes away and I can access what I want, but it’s pretty annoying. It also happened when I tried to click Personalize on the desktop and when trying to use the Control Panel.

Eventually, I found a couple of solutions and tried them out. Luckily, one of them worked and the problem went away. Below are the solutions I found.

Method 1 – Uninstall Adobe Photoshop CS3, Nero, etc

Apparently, certain versions of Adobe CSX and other software like Nero 8 can cause the DllHost.exe error. If you recently installed some new software, go ahead and uninstall it and restart your computer.

Note that this problem tends to occur more on 64-bit systems than 32-bit. Badly written 64-bit software can cause issues, so make sure you download the latest 64-bit versions on all your third-party software.

If you’re not sure what app could be causing the problem, you can use the Reliability Monitor in Windows 7 to figure it out.

Go to Control Panel, System and Security, Action Center, and then Reliability Monitor. You can also type reliability monitor into the search box at the top right.

reliability monitor

Next, click on View all problem reports at the bottom and you’ll now end up in the Problem History screen.

windows problem reports

Find the crash report that has COM Surrogate in the source and then right-click on it and choose View Technical Details. Check out the entry that says Fault Module Name as that usually tells you which program caused the problem.

I’ve also heard that Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 can cause the problem with dllhost.exe and com surrogate. Adding the dllhost.exe to the exclusions list in KIS 2011 seems to solve the problem.

Lastly, DivX and ffdshow codec pack programs have been known to cause this error, so download the latest version of the codec or uninstall them. If you’re using any other codecs like K-Lite, install the latest versions or uninstall them completely.

Method 2 – Turn off DEP or Add Exception

Another way to possible solve this problem is to turn off DEP or Data Execution Prevention. You can do this in Windows 7 by right-clicking on My Computer, choosing Properties, and clicking Advanced system settings.

dllhost.exe error

Click on the Advanced tab and then click on Settings under the Performance section.

com surrogate

Finally, click on Data Execution Prevention and click on Turn on DEP for all programs except those I select and add dllhost.exe to the list.

turn off dep

Hopefully this fixes the Com Surrogate error in Windows 7. If not, post a comment and I’ll try to help.

Fix “Windows Cannot Connect to the Printer” Error

One problem I’ve run across a lot with clients is not being able to print to a networked printer. The most popular error message I see is

Windows Cannot Connect to the Printer or

Windows Cannot Connect to the Printer. Access is Denied.

There are several reasons why this error can come up and a lot depends on your setup. Firstly, I ask users whether the printer is actually a networked printer with a LAN port or if it is simply connected to another computer and is being shared on the network.

Depending on that, you have to troubleshoot the problem differently. I’ll try to go through all the possible solutions I’ve come across for fixing this printing error.

Shared Networked Printer

If your printer is attached to a computer and you have shared the printer on that PC and are now trying to add that printer to another PC on your network, you can try a few things. Firstly, go to the Add Printer wizard and choose A network printer, or a printer attached to another computer.

cannot connect to printer

Click Next and choose Connect to this printer. Then type in the path to the shared printer by entering “\\” followed by the computer name on which the printer is shared followed by the printer name.

add printer network

You should be able to connect to the printer. If you’re getting the cannot connect error message, then you can try to add the printer as a local printer. You can do this by choosing Local printer attached to this computer and unchecking Automatically detect and install my Plug and Play printer.

On the next screen, choose Create a new port and choose Local Port from the list.

cannot print

Click Next and you’ll be asked to enter a Port Name. Here you will type in the path to the printer we mentioned above.

connect to printer

That should work! Remember only do these steps if your printer is attached to a another computer and it is being shared on the network.

Networked Printer

If you have a printer that is attached directly to your LAN network or wireless network, you should also choose Local printer attached to this computer, and then choose Create a new port like mentioned above.

However, instead of choosing Local Port, choose Standard TCP/IP Port.

printer connection problem

Type in the IP address of the printer and you should be good to go. If you don’t know the IP address, you can print the configuration sheet off the printer.

Windows Firewall

Another reason why your might not be able to connect to the printer is if your firewall is preventing the connection. Make sure File and Printer Sharing is allowed through the firewall on your computer and the computer to which the printer is attached.

You can enable File and Printer Sharing by going to Control Panel, Windows Firewall and then clicking on Exceptions.

file and printer sharing

Make sure the File and Printer Sharing check box is checked. That will ensure your connection is not being blocked by the firewall.


You’ll also see this Cannot Connect to Printer error is you are trying to add a printer to a Windows 7 machine and the computer that is hosting the printer is running Windows XP or Windows Vista.

In this case, you have to download and install the Windows 7 drivers from the manufacture’s website on the host machine. When you try to connect to the printer again from Windows 7, the driver for the Windows 7 OS should be available from the host machine for installation.

Note that you can run into this problem with 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. If the computer hosting the printer is a 32-bit machine and the computer trying to connect is a 64-bit machine, you will not be able to connect.

You need to install the 64-bit version of the printer driver on the 64-bit machine and try to connect again. You can also try to install the 64-bit driver onto the host machine, but it’s a bit more difficult. Either way, you will need to make sure you have all versions of the drivers and that the 64-bit and 32-bit printer drivers have the same name.

Anti-Virus Software

A little bit less common is when anti-virus software blocks connections. Try disabling your anti-virus software and then connect to a shared printer. This is especially true if you are using Norton Anti-Virus or their full suite of apps.

If you’re still having problems connecting to a printer, post a comment here and I will try to help!

Determine IP Address From a MAC Address

Ever had to reverse lookup an IP address? Kind of like looking up a home address using a phone number? If you’re in IT, you might come across the occasional situation where you have a MAC address, but need to figure out what the IP address is.

There are a couple of ways you can go about doing this. Firstly, it’s important to understand that the MAC address might not be the address for a PC. It could also be the MAC address for a printer or some other type of device on the network.

If you suspect the MAC address is a printer, first check out this site below to see if it matches a major manufacturer:

You can also find out if the MAC address is from a switch or other networking device from HP, CISCO, etc. If you’re sure the MAC address is a computer, then try the methods below to determine the IP address.

Method 1 – DHCP Server

The simplest way to get an IP address from a MAC address is to check out the DHCP server, if possible. Whether you are in a corporate environment or at home, each computer is being assigned an IP address from a DHCP server (unless it’s a static network, which is rare).

You can either go into the DHCP console on Windows Server 2003/2008 or you can log into your wireless router at home, if that is what you are using.

find ip address

Simply go to Address Leases under the Scope and you can view both the client IP address and the Unique ID, which is the MAC address.

If you have a wireless router at home, it will vary depending on the brand (Belkin, Netgear, LinkSys, etc). But basically, there should be a section to view all the current devices connected to the wireless network.

On my AT&T U-Verse box, it’s right on the home page and I simply click on Device Details to view the MAC Address.

get ip address from mac

Method 2 – Ping Broadcast Address

The second way to do this if you can’t get access to your DHCP server is to use a useful command in Windows called ARP (Address Resolution Protocol).

Basically, you ping the broadcast address on your network from any Windows machine and then check out the ARP table afterwards.

If you subnet is 192.168.1.X with a mask of, then you would ping When you ping, you will get a Request Timed Out all four times, but don’t worry.

ping mac address

Next, type in the following command

arp –a

You will now get a list of all the connected devices on your network along with their physical addresses! Pretty nifty trick.

arp -a

Method 3 – Free Tools

Lastly, you can use a free program to get a IP address from a MAC address. It’s called CC Get MAC Address and it can be downloaded here:

Before you can use it, however, you need to scan all the IP addresses in your subnet in order for it to work. The program itself has a auto scan feature that takes in a IP range.

You can also use a free program called Advanced IP Scanner, which will do the same thing and is a program totally dedicated to scanning IP addresses:

You can also use the IP Scanner and then simply run the arp –a command to get a list of IP/MAC Addresses.

Configure Message Size Limits in Exchange 2010

If you’re running Exchange 2010 at your office, you may have noticed that the default incoming and outgoing message size limit  is 10,240 KB or 10 MB. These days, however, there are many attachments that far exceed this size.

If you want to increase the maximum receive size and the maximum send size for emails, it’s not as simple as you might think. But then again, when is anything easy to figure out in Exchange!

In order to change the size limits, you have to make the change in several locations within the Exchange Management Console.

hub transport exchange

First, you need to modify the global settings at this location:

Organization Configuration – Hub Transport – Global Settings – Properties of Transport Settings

Here you will be able to edit the transport send and receive limits. Once you have done that, you need to modify the send and receive connectors.

global transport settngs

You can change the Send Connector by going to the following location:

Organization Configuration – Hub Transport – Global Settings – Properties of Default Send

And you can do the same thing for the Receive Connector here:

Server Configuration – Hub Transport – Receive Connectors Pane – Properties of Default <host>

That is all there is to it! Note that the largest value you can enter into the maximum receive size and maximum send size in KB is 2097151, which is basically 2 GB! Hopefully, no one in your organization needs to attach a file that is 2 GB in size.

Finally, you need to make sure you restart your Exchange server for the new size limits to take effect. If you can’t reboot, you can try to restart the Exchange services and see if that works.

Also, you can change the max number of recipients in the Global Transport settings dialog. The range is from 0 to a whopping 2147483647.

Determining when a local Windows account password was last changed

Our corporate policy requires us to change Windows server local Administrator passwords on a regular basis.  We have a script that accomplishes this, and after the change we do a QA check to validate the passwords were actually changed.

To determine when a local account password was last set (administrator, in this example) , run the following command:

net user Administrator | find /i “Password last set”

The result looks like:

Password last set            7/8/2010 11:14 AM

Tested on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003, and Windows 2008.

Note: Just typing net user accountname will provide lots of good details about the user account.

C:\>net user administrator
User name                    Administrator
Full Name
Comment                      Built-in account for administering the computer/domain
User’s comment
Country code                 000 (System Default)
Account active               Yes
Account expires              Never

Password last set            7/8/2010 11:14 AM
Password expires             Never
Password changeable          7/9/2010 11:14 AM
Password required            Yes
User may change password     Yes

Workstations allowed         All
Logon script
User profile
Home directory
Last logon                   8/3/2010 5:42 PM

Logon hours allowed          All

Local Group Memberships      *Administrators
Global Group memberships     *None
The command completed successfully.

Howto: Reset a lost VMware guest password

So you’ve forgotten your VMware Linux or Windows guest password?  Here’s how to reset it.  These instructions focus on resetting the password through the Virtual Infrastructure Client, but there’s no reason you couldn’t do it using VMware Workstation or VMware Server.  

1. Grab a Kon-Boot .iso image.
2. In the Virtual Infrastructure client, configure the problematic guest’s Virtual CDROM for the Kon-boot ISO image.
3. Boot the problem guest server.  At the VMware BIOS screen, press the ESC key to bring up the boot menu.  Select to boot from CD-ROM.
4. When the Kon-Boot splash screen appears, press Enter to boot Windows.
5. At the Windows login screen, enter administrator as the user name, with any password you’d like.  Note:  This password is not persistent!  You must set the administrator password manually! Once the password is set, reboot the server and you will be able to login with the newly set credentials.
If you are trying to reset the password in Linux, the steps are the same, but instead of logging into Windows and resetting the adminstrator password, login to Linux and reset the root password.