Multiple IEXPLORE.EXE and 100% CPU Usage

Ok, I’ve searched here, and I’ve searched the internet for a solution to this, and I’m stumped, short of re-loading the machine from scratch. Here’s the issue:

Windows XP, with all of the updates/service packs/etc installed from Microsoft.
System boots fine, but after a few minutes slows to the speed of death. If I open Task Manager, I find 10 copies of IEXPLORE.EXE running, each one consuming 10% of the CPU for a total of 100%. If I carefully end NINE of the processes, the computer goes back to normal, with only one offending copy of IEXPLORE.EXE running. Note that Internet Explorer is NOT running (at least not active in the Taskbar, and not as a “alt-tabbable” program).

My searches on the internet have revealed that perhaps there is a corrupted index.dat file and the solution is to delete it and reboot, or copy a good index.dat from another location. I’ve done this, and it doesn’t fix it. Also, I’ve run Adaware and SpyBot with the latest updates and they don’t find anything unusual (same is true of Norton’s latest antivirus and McAfee online free scan).

Does anyone have ANY suggestions? Oh, and this is a client’s computer on a network, so replacing IE with Opera or somesuch is NOT an option.

Any help is appreciated, folks, 'cuz this one is driving me insane…

Multiple iexplore.exe processes are not necessarily a problem, but they shouldn’t be consuming resources like that. Remember that since Microsoft “Integrated” Internet Explorer into Windows to get out of legal trouble, it’s used for a lot of things behind the scenes.

The most likely one is that your user has turned on the “Launch folder windows in a separate process” preference. To check (and turn it off if you like), from any Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer) window, select Tools -> Folder options, then the View tab. Scroll the Advanced Settings window, and look for an option called “Launch folder windows in a separate process.”

If it’s on, check with your user, then turn it off. This preference exists to allow you to recover from certain kinds of crashes; in a working system it isn’t necessary.

I would also check for damaged ActiveX objects. An IE process can get in a loop that way and absorb a huge amount of CPU.

Log on as Administrator, fire up an IE then menu to Tools | Internet Options… . On the General tab under Temporary Internet Files click [Settings…]. Under Temporary Internet Files Folder click [View Objects …]

Look first for items whose status column is “damaged”. Right click each of those and choose Remove. If IE really needs that item to access some page the user visits, it’ll get reloaded next time, so this removal is 100% safe.

I’d also take the opportunity to check the properties on each item and see where they came from. The gneral tab Codebas property and all the info on the Version tab are informative. A codec from Microsoft, or Schockwave Flash from Macromedia may be fine, but you just might find something undesirable in there too.

One last possibliity. Log on as the user, fire up IE and check what the home page is. If that homepage is defective, or is partly blocked by a firewall, then IE can again hang in a looping fashion.

Speaking just fo rme, I find the idea that browsers wake up by retrieving a “home” page to be stupid. What other Windows program opens to a particular file, rather than to a blank screen awaiting an open command? I set all our company browsers to open to about:blank. That saves a lot of bandwidth versus folks opening and closing their browsers dozens of times a day and downloading MyYahoo or every time before they can click away to where they’re really going.

Bottom line: make sure the home page, whatever it is, can load correctly.

Try “The general tab’s CodeBase property”.

That should read about :blank, no underscore. The about_:blank, with underscore, is a some particularly pernicious malware.

Minor hijack: can anyone tell me why the forums here insert that understore into about-colon?