My brother has Windows XP with a large number of art programs that don't work in newer versions of Windows.

Last thrusday, he got a an art file from a colleague with a .rar extension. He downloaded WinZip to open it. It would not open the art file.

Now the computer does not recognize any file type. Double-clicking any icon on the desktop or in windows explorer (My Computer) opens a dialog box saying the computer was unable to recognize the file type. The only suggested programs the dialog box suggests are Windows Picture and Fax Viewer and Notepad.

The File Types part of Folder Options in windows explorer shows the correct path to the application. But actually going to that application on the C drive and double clicking it gives the same dialog box.

What caused this and how can it be reversed?

It won't start the web browser or run any .exe files. And the desktop icons do the same thing.

It does allow entering the File Types, and all of the file types appear correct. Has the registry been damaged so all of the various file types do the same thing? Or is this some kind of a fake shell that has replaced Windows Explorer?

@M, yes. It's fairly deep damage but I've recovered a few using Doug Knox's fix for .exe.

How do I run this Doug Knox fix if the computer can't download anything or run any programs?

  1. There's a writeup out there about the .exe fix. I can't tell if you read it. It's not a .exe file.
  2. I use a memory stick or CD to get the files over.

There are folk that can't do such repairs for many reasons. Those folk are left with factory recovery systems and repair counters.

Hi there can be a lot of resons for this type of errors.My guess you have virus or had something like that that has destroyed your register. You can try fixing it but it will never work the same again. The best you can do is to save everything and then reinstall it.Trying to repair a widows register that has been messed with by a virus ect.The only way is to reinstall it as you don't know what has bee damaged, moved or delated.

I got it going! But it was 3 days of work.

  1. Since Windows Explorer's file manager was still working, I was able to back up all of the data files to an external hard disk he had. That consumed day 1.

  2. I tried a registry repair app. It said the registry was unintelligible, and that it could not fix it.

  3. I reinstalled Windows XP from his original disk. When it finished, XP was unable to do most things. It was unable to download either Firefox or the antivirus software, and IE was unable to look at most websites. The Microsoft site used to obtain Service Packs 1, 2, and 3 had been taken down by Microsoft. Microsoft has a new site, but it requires Service Pack 2 to already be installed to use it. Tell me this isn't a trick to try to get rid of XP! Thus ended day 2.

  4. I have a set of CD-ROMs containing Service Packs 1, 2, and 3, so I took them over to my brother's computer. I spent most of Day 3 installing those, the antivirus software, and Firefox. I also installed his copy of Office 2000 and got his email working.

Then my brother was able to read an email from his friend who sent the file that caused the problem. There was a typo in the extension of an image file included in a compressed folder. The decompressing program ran the file as a registry restore and smashed the registry with a compressed art image. End day 3.

My brother now has the task of reinstalling the dozens of programs (mostly image editing programs) he has. But he is doing that himself, because he originally installed those programs.

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