Fixed: Windows 7 Explorer.exe Server Execution Failed

Fixed: Windows 7 Explorer.exe Server Execution Failed

This error message can occur for the following reasons:

  1. Your Documents Library is pointed to an external drive which is disconnected
  2. The registry entries dictating where your Shell and User Shell folders has been changed

If your libraries are pointed to an external drive, plug it in or turn it on to resolve the issue. Otherwise…

The easy way:

  1. Click on Libraries
  2. Right-click on Documents and select “Properties” from the menu
  3. Click on the Restore Defaults button at the bottom right side of the dialog
  4. Click OK



The hard way

  1. open the Registry Editor by clicking Start (Windows Orb) > Run (or by pressing the Window’s and R keys on your keyboard simultaneously).
  2. Type “regedit” and press Enter or click OK. (confirm UAC if prompted)
  3. Navigate to the following entry HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Personal
  4. Once you have clicked on “Shell Folders” and see My Pictures, My Music, etc.; select File > Export from the menu and save a backup of this registry key to C:\shellfolders.reg
  5. Change the key named Personal to something like C:\Users\Demo User\Documents (replacing Demo User with your account name) by double-clicking on it. If you are confused about what value should be put into Personal, look at the other entries for Pictures, Music, etc. and make it similar to those.
  6. Click OK
  7. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders\Personal
  8. Backup the key as before by selecting File > Export
  9. Double-click the Personal key and enter %USERPROFILE%\Documents
  10. Click OK
  11. Close the Registry Editor
  12. Open Libraries and select Documents, all should be working again.

If for some reason this does not work for you, navigate to C:\shellfolders.reg (or wherever you saved the exported key) and double click on the file (authorize UAC) to restore it to it’s original state.

Warning: modifying your registry can damage your computer, make sure you have your files backed up and that you export anything you modify so that it may be restored. This is advice that may or may not fix your problem, we take no responsibility whatsoever for any damage done to your computer as a result of the instructions contained here

About the Author

Rob McVey

I am a software developer/IT professional helping businesses save money through informed purchase consulting; website development and marketing; and process automation.

4 Comments to “Fixed: Windows 7 Explorer.exe Server Execution Failed”

  1. Willem Geurtsen says:

    Hi Rob. Maybe you can help. After starting Win7 and clicking on whatever! icon, I get: Explorer exe: Server execution failed. Restart does not help. Shut down and restart helps 2 out of 3 times. Pse advice. Thanks WG

  2. Marc Savoy says:

    Thank you very much, Rob MCVey,for providing the solution to my failed Windows 7 Server Execution.

    In all my computer,internet years not once have I encountered the dreaded “failed server execution”, dreaded because the words ‘Failed Server Execution’ conjures up the most terrible sort of computer mishap with thoughts of Hello, HP! Anyway, everything went as easily as i could imagine. Thanks again! Marc

  3. Marc Savoy says:

    Make sure to check out my review of BIT*CONSULTANTS at Stumbled Upon.

  4. FossilsFriend says:

    Thank you!!! Your ‘The Easy Way’ suggestion solved my Windows 7-64 problems. I had inadvertently installed some malware while adding an Open Financial Document (OFD) reader. I had used the Uninstall Program in Windows Control Panel to remove the unwanted ad-ware, but that was how the problem arose. Thank you again so very very much!
    Take care, FossilsFriend