In-place repair of Vista Home Premium

I wish it was just a few. I have ..make that had, 220 installed non OS programs installed, of which about 80% I use regularly. About half of those 220 programs are free/open source/ shareware programs that I would have to track down and download again as I don't keep the is precious. The purchased software is all at least 18 months - 2 years old and seeing as I have ADD and five kids and am incredibly forgetful I can only hazard a guess as to where the disks and licenses are. So neither idea is appealing especially considering I have no idea what stuffed things up in the first place. I am terrified that I'll end up doing a fresh install, downloading and installing my programs again and have explorer spit the dummy once again.

Anyway, I haven't slept in two and a half days but I have made progress...sort of. A friend suggested I download Tuneup Utilities 2010 from It's brilliant. I can do almost everything I couldn't do because of Explorer.exe crashing. Tune-up has an uninstall programs feature so I put it to good use and trimmed my count down to a meager 117 installed programs. It also has a system management feature that hosted Windows automatic updates so I was able to change the settings to allow it to download and install updates without permission so I'm fully patched now. I also used Tune-up to trim back all but the bare bones of processes and programs in startup and weeded services while I was at it.
Then I installed all the snap-ins for the Microsoft Management Console I could get my hands on, built a custom console to host them and wrote a subscription to track events, resources and performance etc
So it's like having 50 pairs of eyes watching and waiting for it to happen.

I also found a cool tool called Sc.exe that allows me to start/stop application from command line as well as modify settings. So my pc is collecting data, I'll sleep for a bit then its down to the hunt.

I'll let you know how I get on.

I fixed it. *grins*

I went and had a shower and decided to have a wee peek at the log files collected from the MMC subscription. I noticed an internet addon that was activated every time Explorer crashed. Now here's the thing, I had already disabled it to see if it was to blame and it made no difference so I checked the minidump files and went back through the logs and saw that the internet addon was partnered to a photoshop CS4 plugin. It wasn't until I uninstalled both of them that I was able to sort this out.

Oh and btw, that tune-up utility has a system restore feature that allows the user to set how many restore points to keep and for how long. Given this incident I set it at 60 restore points for three months. I don't mind scooching over to make room for such a valuable tool.

You know, two weeks ago I had to google 'stackhash' to find out what it meant and here I am bringing my pc back to life AND I learned how to avoid the same pitfall. I'm a bit chuffed about that I am.
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Congratulations !
Stick around, you're now officially an expert and you can pass on your knowledge.
Fantastic, its experiences like this that you can learn a lot from. Just make sure you don't use that plugin again (at least until they put out an update).
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