Microsoft small business knowledge base

Article ID: 256194 - Last Review: February 28, 2007 - Revision: 4.4

This article was previously published under Q256194
This article applies to Windows 2000. Support for Windows 2000 ends on July 13, 2010. The Windows 2000 End-of-Support Solution Center ( is a starting point for planning your migration strategy from Windows 2000. For more information see the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy ( .


When you log on to Windows 2000, you may see a blank desktop or no desktop. When this occurs, you can press CTRL+ALT+DELETE to start Task Manager, but Explorer.exe is not listed in the list of running tasks or processes. Starting a new instance of Explorer.exe does not resolve the issue.


This issue can occur if there is an older version of the Shdocvw.dll file in the %SystemRoot% folder. Because Explorer.exe is located in the %SystemRoot% folder, the search path for any called files starts in the %SystemRoot% folder before the path is searched. The default search order always looks for a called file in the folder containing the program file before searching the path to locate the file.


To resolve this issue:
  1. Press CTRL+ALT+DELETE, and then click Task Manager.
  2. On the File menu, click New Task (Run).
  3. Type cmd.exe, and then press ENTER.
  4. If necessary, change to the %SystemRoot% folder.
  5. Rename the Shdocvw.dll file by typing ren shdocvw.dll shdocvw.old.
  6. Restart the computer.


Other older files that may cause problems with Explorer.exe or the shell if they are located in %SystemRoot% folder:
For additional information, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
162031  ( ) Blank Screen or Operating System Cannot Load Profile at Logon

255758  ( ) Error Message: Explorer.exe Has Generated Errors and Will Be Closed by Windows

249321  ( ) Unable to Log on if the Boot Partition Drive Letter Has Changed

137155  ( ) Users Without System32 Permissions Cannot Log On

The desktop may also be blank if your computer is configured for multiple monitors and the icons are on a portion of the desktop that is outside the viewable range. Check the properties for the video adapter, and then click Settings. If two monitors are displayed, but only one is in use, click the first monitor, and then check the settings. If the Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor check box is selected, click to clear the check box, and then click Apply. The icons should then reappear.

  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition
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