Troubleshooting EXE File Execution in Windows XP

Troubleshooting EXE File Execution in Windows XP

When working with a computer, it is not uncommon for when executing executable EXE files, nothing happens or an error is "flying". This also happens with program shortcuts. Here we explain the causes of this problem and how to solve it.

Restore application startup in Windows XP

The following conditions are necessary for the EXE file to start normally:

  • There is no lock on the system side.
  • Correct command from Windows registry.
  • Integrity of the file itself and of the service or program that executes it.

If one of these conditions is not met, the problem we discussed in today's article occurs.

Cause 1: File lock

Some files downloaded from the Internet are marked as potentially dangerous. Various security programs and services (firewalls, antivirus, etc.) take care of this. This can also happen with files that are accessed over the local network. The solution here is simple:

  1. Click on PCM in the problem file and go to "Properties"..

  2. At the bottom of the window, press the button "To unlock".then "Apply". и OK.

Reason 2: file associations

By default, Windows is configured so that each type of file corresponds to a program that can be used to open (run) it. Sometimes, for various reasons, this order is broken. For example, you have opened an EXE file with an archive by mistake and the operating system assumes it is correct and configures the corresponding settings. Windows will now try to run executable files using the archive.

It may interest you:  Using the on-screen keyboard in Windows XP

This was an illustrative example, in fact there are many reasons for this failure. The most common cause is the installation of software, most likely malware, that causes the associations to change.

Only an edit of the system registry can help correct the situation. The recommendations listed below should be used as follows: perform the first point, restart the computer and check its operability. If the problem persists, do the second one and so on.

First of all, you need to run the registry editor. Do it like this: open the menu "Start" and then press "Run"..

In the functions window, type the command "Regedit" and then press OK.

This will open an editor where we will do everything.

  1. There is a folder in the registry where custom settings for file extensions are written. The keys that are written there are priority for execution. This means that the operating system will "look" at these settings first. Deleting the folder can correct the bad associations situation.

    So there are two possible developments: the folders «User choice» or the above parameters (".Exe" и ".Lnk") are missing from the registry or the problem persists after a reboot. In both cases, go to the next step.

  2. Reopen the registry editor and this time go to


    There are also two possibilities here: that the parameters have correct values ​​or that the files do not start after reboot. Let's move on.

  3. If the problem with executing the EXE persists, it means that someone (or something) has changed other important registry keys. There may be quite a few, so the files linked below are worth using.

    Download log files

    • Double-click the file exe.reg and accept the entry in the registry.

    • Wait for the message that the information has been added successfully.

    • Do the same with the file lnk.reg..
    • Reboot.
It may interest you:  Correct the error "The printing subsystem is not available"

You may have noticed that the link opens a folder with three files. One of them is reg.reg. - will be required if the default association for log files has been 'lost'. If this happens, you will not be able to run them normally.

  1. Open editor, go to menu "File". and click on the item "Import"..

  2. Find the downloaded file reg.reg. and then press "Opens"..

  3. The result of our actions will be to enter the data contained in the file in the system registry.

    Remember to reboot the machine, without this the changes will not take effect.

Cause 3: hard drive errors

If the launch of the EXE files is accompanied by an error, it is probably due to the corruption of the system files on your hard drive. This can be caused by "broken" and therefore unreadable sectors. This phenomenon is far from uncommon. You can check the disk for errors and fix them with the HDD Regenerator software.

Read more: How to recover a hard drive with HDD Regenerator

The main problem with system files in "broken" sectors is the inability to read, copy and overwrite them. In this case, if the program did not help, you can restore or reinstall the system.

Read more: Ways to recover Windows XP

Please note that the appearance of bad sectors on your hard drive is the first call to replace it with a new one, otherwise you risk losing all your data.

Cause 4: Processor.

By considering this cause, an association with gaming can be made. Just as toys do not run on graphics cards that do not support certain versions of DirectX, programs may not start on systems with processors that cannot execute the necessary instructions.

It may interest you:  Resolving the "NTLDR is missing" error in Windows XP

The most common problem is the lack of SSE2 support. To find out if your CPU can handle these instructions, you can use the CPU-Z or AIDA64 programs.

In CPU-Z the instructions appear here:

In AIDA64 you have to go to "System Dashboard." and open the section "CPUID". In the block «Instruction games». you can find the information you need.

The solution to this problem is one thing: replace the processor or the entire platform.


Today we have discovered how you can solve the problem of executing files with EXE extension in Windows XP. To avoid this in the future, be careful when looking for and installing software, do not enter unverified data in the registry and do not change keys whose purpose you do not know, always, when installing new programs or changing settings, create restore points.

We are glad that we were able to help you with your problem.

Describe what has not worked for you.
Our specialists will try to respond as quickly as possible.

Has this article helped you?