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Desktop.ini files

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#1
oidicle

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I've recently been having an issue with explorer crashing upon opening most of my hard drives' root directory saying: "The instruction at 0x636a2e20 referenced memory at 00000008. The memory could not be read.

I've spent a whole day trying to figure out what was causing the error to occur, rescanned the computer for any viruses, tried cleaning the system(invalid registry references, etc) with some utilities and found no cure... It was after a day that I realized that the problem wasn't with 'explorer' because I could manually navigate to other folders(skipping the root directories of the hard drives) without issues, than it occurred to me that it could only be be the desktop.ini files stored in the root of each hard drive they've always been there to display a background image(I think you know what I'm talking about here), so I tried deleting one of the files on one of the HDD's using the "Command Prompt" and I was able to access the HDD with no problems.....

I've always been using desktop.ini to display background images on most of my folders under windows XP for years(ever since WindowsME) with no issue, so I'm not sure exactly what could causing that to happen.....

"I've actually recently re-Installed WinXP SP3 due to a lot of registry related problems, the possible culprits could be(now firts hear me out here):

1-TuneUp Utilities' "One Click Maintenance"
Well, TuneUp utilities One Click maintenance automatically eliminates problems which it deems will possibly affect the performance and reliability of my computer, such as registry problems(one of them is defragmenting the registry), invalid shortcuts, etc... all this without backup
In recent times I've found myself often reinstalling XP due to either a prob while loading the windows sidebar or it's gadgets in XP, which initially worked fine or something else which gave an error and asked to debug.

2-I also suspect it could've been one of the recent microsoft updates that were automatically installed... I know that in Vista it's not possible to use the desktop.ini to view background images on a folder, perhaps that's being stopped in XP as well, because it could be a vulnerability that could be exploited or something, I don't really know....


It isn't a virus, I'm very cautious in terms of security, I control what application connects to and from the internet, basically what goes in and out of the PC via an anti-virus firewall that prompts me when such applications need access.... and just to be sure I always re-scan with other top performing anti-virus software according to benchmarks and they all say the same thing: 'Nothing is wrong'.......


Anyone had similar issues or has something to contribute in the matter or even a solution? I'd apreciate it.


Thanx
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#2
CharlotteTheHarlot

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The very next thing I would try would be to use some 3rd party NON-Explorer based file managers to browse the same directory. Success would point to Explorer/Shell problems.

Good ones to test would be Powerdesk, Tracker, XYplorer, Total Commander (WinCMD), EF Commander, WinAbility, WinNavigator, WinNC, etc. If you need links just ask.

If the problem appears in these apps, there may well be a low-level driver or even a hardware problem.

More likely its Explorer/Shell related and that can point in a multitude of directions from something as simple as a bad shell extension (triggered each time an explorer instance opens) to some toolbar, addin, thumbnail processor, etc.

You need to post more info. Can you see other directories instead of the drive roots? What happens if you start/run and browse the directories through that dialog? Are you Admin or lower user? Have you tried logging on as another user and testing? Do you know how to check permissions on folders? There are many more questions!

... Let him who hath understanding reckon the Number Of The Beast ...


#3
oidicle

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The very next thing I would try would be to use some 3rd party NON-Explorer based file managers to browse the same directory. Success would point to Explorer/Shell problems.

Good ones to test would be Powerdesk, Tracker, XYplorer, Total Commander (WinCMD), EF Commander, WinAbility, WinNavigator, WinNC, etc. If you need links just ask.

If the problem appears in these apps, there may well be a low-level driver or even a hardware problem.


It's not a hardware problem, I know that problem can be fixed if I re-install XP, if it were a hardware problem there would be no amount of tweaks that could solve the issue; it's within the OS itself....
My focus is not in accessing the hard drives just because I need to and thus resorting to third party apps to open subsequent folders, it's to just fix that sudden 'desktop.ini' incompatibility.


You need to post more info. Can you see other directories instead of the drive roots? What happens if you start/run and browse the directories through that dialog? Are you Admin or lower user? Have you tried logging on as another user and testing? Do you know how to check permissions on folders? There are many more questions!


Yes, As I've already mentioned in the beginning of this topic and will again say it in detail, I can access other directories other than the root of the hard drives that have the 'desktop.ini' file that has commands to display user specified images in the background.... to note that folders like 'my documents', 'my pictures', etc also have the 'desktop.ini' file in them but I can access them with no issues because the only command they contain is one to display a custom folder icon to identify the folders, that's why you can recognize the 'my music' folder or any folder within my documents just because of the icon; you are able see that music icon because of the desktop.ini file, if you delete it there will only be a plain folder icon, you'd need to see it's name in order to identify it.....

Here's the command, there's no issue with this one:

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21770
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll,-112
IconFile=%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll
IconIndex=-235


So in XP, explorer only crashes upon accessing folders with 'desktop.ini' that have this command, for the display of a background image:

[{BE098140-A513-11D0-A3A4-00C04FD706EC}]
iconarea_image=\Folder Settings\UltimateStart.png
iconarea_text=0x00FFFFFF

That's why I asked if perhaps microsoft could have discontinued its use and the result was when I made I recent windows update.....
Because as you might already know that has been used since ages ago, why stop now? <_<

Could the possibility of a registry issue be ruled out?


More likely its Explorer/Shell related and that can point in a multitude of directions from something as simple as a bad shell extension (triggered each time an explorer instance opens) to some toolbar, addin, thumbnail processor, etc.


Yeah it could be anything.... :( -_-
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#4
CharlotteTheHarlot

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Yes, As I've already mentioned in the beginning of this topic and will again say it in detail, I can access other directories other than the root of the hard drives that have the 'desktop.ini' file that has commands to display user specified images in the background....

Yes, I see that now. Ooops :realmad:

So in XP, explorer only crashes upon accessing folders with 'desktop.ini' that have this command, for the display of a background image:

[{BE098140-A513-11D0-A3A4-00C04FD706EC}]
iconarea_image=\Folder Settings\UltimateStart.png
iconarea_text=0x00FFFFFF

Are you sure that this is the exact URL that has worked in the past? I would think a fully qualified string or at least environment variables would be needed. Perhaps you might add the C:\Documents and Settings\etc....

I would also check this with and without the Themes service running. Longshot but worth trying.

Another common point of breakage with SP3 is the UXTHEME replacement crashing most MsStyles. I don't see an obvious connection to your problem but I always patch that DLL to be sure.

A carefully filtered snapshot with ProcMon from System Internals should give some insight into this crash btw.

I don't have time now but you may want to Google that CLSID and other info: "{BE098140-A513-11D0-A3A4-00C04FD706EC} desktop.ini Explorer Crash".

EDIT: one more idea, try converting that PNG image to a BMP and altering the URL accordingly. MSIE and its associated libraries (which are way too integrated into the Shell's WebView features) tend to choke on PNG files on some systems.

Edited by CharlotteTheHarlot, 19 January 2009 - 01:33 AM.

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#5
oidicle

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Are you sure that this is the exact URL that has worked in the past? I would think a fully qualified string or at least environment variables would be needed. Perhaps you might add the C:\Documents and Settings\etc....

It works only in the HDD root, for normal folders within folders it doesn't work

you'd otherwise have to do it the normal way like:

[{BE098140-A513-11D0-A3A4-00C04FD706EC}]
iconarea_image=Folder Settings\cadillacsixteen.bmp
iconarea_text=0x00FFFFFF
[.ShellClassInfo]
IconFile=%SystemRoot%\system32\SHELL32.dll
IconIndex=168
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\SHELL32.dll,40
[ViewState]
Mode=
Vid=
FolderType=Music

I you Multi-Boot, You can try it in XP without the full string, you'll see that it works....

It doesn't really matter if you use the full string or not on the root of the HDD, it still crashes....

Another common point of breakage with SP3 is the UXTHEME replacement crashing most MsStyles. I don't see an obvious connection to your problem but I always patch that DLL to be sure.

I've actually never thought of that before, the UxTheme was originally patched with nLite before installing XP, but could it be that it was unpatched or replaced by the updates like it happens in Vista with deskhack.dll and sometimes shvcs.dll, themeui.dll and uxtheme.dll after every single windows update(You can only notice that if you use custom themes, after an update and PC restart vista loads the classic theme and your custom themes don't work)....

I'll try to copy the patched Uxtheme.dll from the XP Unnatended install CD onto the system32 folder and see.


A carefully filtered snapshot with ProcMon from System Internals should give some insight into this crash btw.

I'm not that familiarized with procMon, exactly how should I go about it? Which process exactly do I need to filter? and what should I be looking for?
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#6
oidicle

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I don't have time now but you may want to Google that CLSID and other info: "{BE098140-A513-11D0-A3A4-00C04FD706EC} desktop.ini Explorer Crash".

by googling I think I found the cause of it all, it's actually something i was wondering about but then neglected, On those recent windows updates i mentioned on my first post, Internet Explorer 8 beta is one of the things that were installed(although I didn't really get IE8beta automatically through windows update, I manually download and installed the updated version of IE.... I can't really believe I neglected that fact, because I remember back in the days finding out that internet explorer has something to do with the active desktop and that a lot of features can be disabled by it through the settings, stuff that's related to wallpapers and stuff, you could give windows a "classic" ugly feel just by disabling a lot of stuff.....

So one of the search results is this web address: http://www.annoyance...nxp/t1224599045

The guy there said that he started having the issue right after installing IE8 and he goes into details...

He said that he would contact the IE team about the "bug".... but what if it that feature was intentionally disabled like they did in vista? as far as I'm concerned that is no longer a doable thing in vista, you'll just have to get used to a blank folder background....

You can answer that last question if you like because it's just speculation, I don't mean anything to Microsoft by it....

Anyway, I'll uninstall IE8 and see if I can back to where I was, on track.......
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#7
CharlotteTheHarlot

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Going on instinct here: it smells like the MSIE vs. PNG problem once again.

I may have missed it in your post, but did you try it with a BMP file (and maybe a JPG). Both of these filetypes should be safe from Microsoft MSIE/Explorer library security fixes (bitmaps cannot be infected, and blocking JPG images would break the whole internet).

Also, about that URL (=\Folder Settings\UltimateStart.png), assuming that Folder Settings is a folder directly under the root, I believe that should either have the leading dot (=.\Folder Settings\UltimateStart.png) or written without the leading backslash (=Folder Settings\UltimateStart.png). I would try both to be sure since it only takes a few seconds. I'm not saying you are wrong (god knows that Microsoft specializes in peculiarities), but it just goes against everything I've seen.

To completely rule out parsing/processing errors in the INI file, why not just place the image directly in the root folder and address it as such (=UltimateStart.png) or maybe (=.\UltimateStart.png).

But my money is that MSIE screwed the pooch again. BTW, what happens if you drop that PNG file right into MSIE? Note that dropping a JPG or BMP simply displays the image.

... Let him who hath understanding reckon the Number Of The Beast ...


#8
oidicle

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That's not the only file I use, I also use JPG and BMP files on other roots, I knew from the get go that that wasn't an issue because of that, that desktop.ini entry I gave you is just an example, it's not that I'm using only that.....

I've removed IE8(Also in Vista) and everything went back to normal, they all work again... and as a bonus I was able to find out that there is workaround to vista not being able to display background images on folders....

For those who would like to do that in vista here's the url: http://mpj.tomaatnet...a/folderbg.html


Thanks for the feedback Charlotte, I'm now all good....
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