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What’s explorer.exe (Windows Explorer)? Is it safe or a virus?

Have you ever had to find a file or app on your Windows PC? Well, who hasn't? If you've ever opened up the Windows File Explorer, then you'll find the explorer.exe process is running in your Windows Task Manager.

In fact, just to be sure... I just checked this on my own PC and sure enough Windows Explorer (explorer.exe) is humming along, ready for me to look for any files I might need.

And that's because Explorer.exe is a crucial component of the Windows operating system, designed to provide the graphical user interface for users to interact with their files, folders, and programs. It serves as the shell for the desktop, taskbar, and Start menu, and also manages the organization and display of files and folders. In addition, explorer.exe is responsible for launching and controlling various system utilities and interface elements, such as File Explorer, Control Panel, and the notification area.

If explorer.exe isn't running on your PC then you probably have some big problems. If you're seeing something suspicious with explorer.exe, you should verify it's signed by Microsoft and that's one way you can make sure it's safe. Our free SpyShelter Antispyware app checks all the processes on your PC for free, so you may want to give it a try also!

(Researched by Jon @ SpyShelter Labs)


Executable Processes List

More about explorer.exe on WINDOWS

Who makes explorer.exe (Windows Explorer)?

We’ve found Microsoft Windows should be the publisher of explorer.exe.

How do we know? Our SpyShelter cybersecurity labs focuses on monitoring different types of Windows PC executables and their behaviors for our popular SpyShelter Antispyware software. Learn more about us, and how our cybersecurity team studies Windows PC executables/processes.

What does it mean if someone is the publisher of a PC .exe (executable or process)?

The publisher of an executable is the entity responsible for its distribution and authenticity. Most processes/executables on your PC should be signed. The signature on the executable should have been verified through a third party whose job it is to make sure the entity is who it says it is. Find an unsigned executable? You should consider scanning any completely unsigned .exe on your PC.

Is explorer.exe safe or a virus?

Below are 4 simple steps you can take to see if the explorer.exe process is safe or malware.

  1. Scan the executable with Microsoft's built-in tech
  2. Find explorer.exe's publisher
  3. Search the executable's hash with VirusTotal
  4. Monitor the executable's behavior
Last updated: February 1, 2024

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Why should you trust us?

Our team at SpyShelter has been studying Windows PC executables for over 15 years, to help fight against spyware, malware, and other threats. SpyShelter has been featured in publications like The Register, PC Magazine, and many others. Now we’re working to share free, actionable, and easy to understand information about Windows executables (processes) with the world, to help as many people as possible keep their devices safe. Learn more about us on our "About SpyShelter” page.

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