I must admit that I tend to install a whole bunch of junk on my computer system. It is part of my day job as Director of Technical Services at a major company to review new software to determine if it may be of use. I just love to look at new ways to solve issues that people run up against all of time. So I am always keeping a look out for newest shareware and freeware and checking them out.
Over years, I've found a few utilities that I have discovered which make my life easier. Thus, as I've moved from computer to computer I've tended to install these same programs without thinking, considering them to be "safe" as I've always had them.
About a year ago I started having problems with my computer system. Naturally, since I am an MIS professional, I don't follow advice that I give everyone else: install one thing at a time so you know what to uninstall when there is a problem. Following this procedure makes it easy to troubleshoot problems when occur - with Windows bluescreens and application issues are almost always results of last install. This is especially true if system was stable before any new programs were added.
No, I'm so smart that I don't need to follow my own advice (notice sarcasm here). What do I do? I get a new computer and install Windows NT with service pack 5 and Office 2000. So far so good (that's what I had before). Now I install my usual set of programs and everything is fine, then I have to go and add over two dozen new applications. The system appears to be stable, so I don't think much about it.
Over next few months, I realized that Windows Explorer was crashing occasionally. This is very annoying, because it causes all browser windows to close and all of tray icons to disappear. At this point I found I needed to log out and log back in. The system would remain stable for a while, then same thing would occur. There was not a pattern to failures that I could find.
After a while I had bright idea of upgrading to Windows 2000 as it is a much more stable, clean operating system. I also acquired a brand new machine (933mhtz) with a lot more disk space. I quickly realized that Windows 2000 definitely was worth hype - very clean, extremely fast and wonderfully full featured. I must admit that I fell in love with this operating system immediately and will never go back to Windows NT, 98 or 95 (I never used ME).
Except for one thing - Windows Explorer still crashed in exactly same manner. Every once in a while (generally no more than once per day) all of my Internet Explorer windows would close, tray icons would disappear and desktop would be refreshed. This was getting very frustrating. At first I thought it was Internet Explorer 5.5, so I installed earlier 5.01 version. The problem still occurred, but not as often.
I had already tried everything that I could think of. I had removed and re-installed as many applications as I dared. I had reinstalled operating system, changed operating systems and even changed hardware. I searched Technet (Microsoft's knowledge base) and found nothing. I questioned other experts and they all came up blank.