Betrayed by Malwarebytes anti-malware

I was called to fix an XP desktop that wasn’t getting any icons or start bar after some software installs and updates.

Many techies are familiar with Malwarebytes. For many of us, it’s one of the first antimalware tools we use if what is already installed failed to stop an infection. Well this popular utility betrayed me recently.

So the symptom was this – upon boot-up of an XP computer the only 2 things that came up were the background and the mouse cursor. Running explorer.exe from task manager didn’t work. You can get into safe mode just fine however.

There were some updates that were installed for Windows and an update to a third party software. Rather than roll back all the changes, though, my decision was to try and track down the cause. This was similar to the blank desktop symptom I wrote about before but there were no other computers in the office that exhibited the same behavior.



Well, you must have guessed already that the cause of the trouble in this case was Malwarebytes. Someone must’ve used it and installed the free trial because the process was running in Task Manager. Once I ended the process, the desktop suddenly appeared. Goes to show you that sometimes our trusted tools in our tool bags are the ones that cause you trouble.

I’m not so quick to point the finger to Malwarebytes because it was installed prior to the software updates and the computer didn’t have any issues. Something in the updates must’ve been incompatible with Malwarebytes and will be corrected with another update. I didn’t want to wait so I just uninstalled Malwarebytes until I need it again to scan the computer for malware in the future.


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