Pop-Up Problem

Nathan Edwards

I am currently running Windows XP Pro. Every time I start my computer, the first thing that appears on my desktop is a pop-up error screen. It’s a rectangular box with “system.exe -Application Error” at the top. On the bottom of the window is a red circle with a white X through it and this message: “The application failed to initialize properly (0xc0000022). Click OK to terminate the application.” I don’t know what this means.

—Evan Jones

Get your surgical mask: System.exe sounds like malware to the Doctor. At worst, it’s a virus. While it’s certainly possible that you’ve installed something that uses the executable to launch the application, the Doctor can point to a number of scenarios in which this file name is the basis for trouble.

To assess the situation, grab the free ClamWin antivirus program ( www.clamwin.com ). Install it, then restart your computer and repeatedly hit the F8 key during your BIOS loading process. You’ll want to pick Safe Mode as the operating system environment. Once your desktop loads, run a full scan with ClamWin. (If you are already running an antivirus program, you’ll want to disable it before running ClamWin.) If system.exe is a virus, as the Doc suspects it is, this will fix your problem.
If not, grab AutoRuns ( http://tinyurl.com/39338j ). This free program will show you a complete list of everything that fires up when you boot into your operating system. Find the first program that references “system.exe” and uncheck it. Then restart your computer—if this fixes the issue, go back to the program and delete the “system.exe” entry entirely. If not, add the checkmark back and repeat the process for other applications that use the file.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at doctor@maximumpc.com for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

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