Windows 10 V1803: Fix for Explorer Timeline crashes

[German]In Windows 10 April Update (version 1803), users users are facing cyclic Explorer crashes or freezes. Other applications may also be affected. The reason is a bug in Timeline. However, there is a workaround.


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The error

There are probably different error patterns that users will observe. There may be problems in the taskbar or the Windows Explorer crashes frequently.

  • The explorer.exe constantly crashes
  • The taskbar or desktop suddenly freezes

A restart (may happen automatically after the Explorer crash) can fix the problem for a short time – until the next crash. There is a thread on the topic on reddit.com.

Setup: 2 PC’s running windows 10 insider preview (one 17134, one 17655), both using the same Microsoft Account for login.

This morning my desktop started crashing the windows explorer including the desktop repeatedly, preventing access to apps, clicks, typing. I tried rebooting but immediately was faced with the same. This machine is on 17655. I had to leave to meet at a client site, so I left this machine in the state it was.

Short time later while at work, my Surface book 2 started doing the same (its on 17134). I thought this was strange and continued troubleshooting as I now had no working machines. I tried a number of things, but finally was able to get the machine working by enabling the built-in administrator account, setting a password and logging into it. There’s some downsides to doing this, but at least I could navigate around the machine. On the Surface book, I could recreate the MS account login, but it would start crashing shortly thereafter (looks tied to sync of settings). That said, I went online to Microsoft’s Account management page and removed all the data I could find in my microsoft account from the devices area.

I also was able to remain logged in under the Microsoft Account by stopping the Windows Search and Windows Error Reporting Services and disabling them, but that only worked on the surface book and not the desktop. From there, I tried a reset of the Surface Book PC and tried adding my account after cleaning everything, but nearly immediately the crashing started again (I believe again the sync of settings occurred). I’ve started backing up the desktop to wipe it as well, but I think if I use my MS-ID to log into it after blowing it away and reinstalling a production copy of windows I’ll run into the same problem.

I also found some entries in German Microsoft Answers forum, mentions that Timeline crashes explorer.exe in Windows 10 V1803.

And if this article is correct, the bug is already known for a while, Microsoft just did not consider it necessary to fix the bug.

Windows 10 Timeline


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Fix: Switch off the activity history

Fortunately, a bright mind at Microsoft had the idea to switch off the timeline function. You can manage the activity history function in the Settings page by going to Privacy. Then you will find the category Activity History in the left column.

Aktivitätsverlauf (Timeline) abschalten

When selecting the entry there is the option ‘Let Windows collect my activities on this PC’. If unchecked, the activity history (timeline) is turned off. Then the crashes should be fixed.

According to a German forum post, delete also everything under Activity History to prevent it from being affected.

No access to the settings page?

If the explorer crashes to fast that you can’t get into the settings, call the task manager with Ctrl + Alt + Del and then terminate the explorer.exe task. Start regedit.exe as a new task in the Task Manager and then navigate to the following key.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\System

Create the 32-bit DWORD value EnableActivityFeed in this key and set it to 0 (switches off the timeline, see also). Then exit the Registry Editor and restart explorer.exe in Task Manager. Now the Explorer should not crash any more.

Similar articles:
Windows 10 Wiki
Windows 10: Open command prompt window as administrator
Windows 10 V1803: (Boot-) issues with update KB4103721
Windows 10 V1803: Rollout stopped for Intel SSDs
Windows 10 security updates May 8, 2018
Media Feature Pack for Windows 10 N Version 1803
Windows 10 Fall April Update – Upgrade Tips
Windows 10 April Update (Version 1803): Upgrade FAQ
Windows 10 April Update: Bugs and Issues


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