Windows 8.1 - Right Click in Explorer, Crashes Explorer

This morning was interestingly frustrating.

I noticed, shortly after completing my Windows updates, that whenever I right clicked on any icons, I would get my 'Spinny' circle, waiting for something to happen. 

It seemed that everything I wanted to right click on, would crash explorer. Great.

Thankfully, this has been experienced before, and reported over at the WindowsForum.com.

Here is the original post; Right click on a file or folder crash explorer.exe windows 8.1

The solution in the thread, was actually from www.registryrecycler.com, but essentially requires editing the registry to disable DLNA.

For the first time in Windows 7, Microsoft embedded a new Shell Extension (dlnashext.dll). This extension associates itself with DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), which is a standard to share data over a closed network. This extension basically performs multimedia operations by integrating remote devices. It could form a conflict with your Windows 8.1 Explorer causing it to crash. You can disable this extension in the following way.
— www.registryrecycler.com
  1. Go to Start search, type regedit and hit Enter to open Registry Editor
  2. In the left pane, Navigate through HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE to reach the following key path
  3. SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Shell Extensions\Approved
  4. Now in the right pane, locate the entry named {289AF617-1CC3-42A6-926C-E6A863F0E3BA}
  5. Double click this entry to Modify
  6. Set the Value data to 0 and click OK button to save your changes
  7. Restart the machine to get rid to Windows explorer crashes due to DLNA shell extension

Remember to backup (export) that registry key first! - Just in case.

One of the hiccups I ran into while trying to implement this, was that I, like everyone else (!), run as a standard user. However an elevated user is required to modify this registry hive.

In my case, I was able to remotely connect to my hard disk from another computer and place a shortcut to cmd.exe that required administrative privileges.

You could also boot to safe mode and try that way.