Spyware Questions and Answers - Cannot Find C:\WINDOWS\shell.exe Error Message
Kathe writes in with a spyware question
Question:When we turn the computer on we get an error message that says "cannot find C:\WINDOWS\shell.exe". What is this and how can we fix it?
Answer: It sounds as though you have a virus/spyware infection. There are a few things you can try to fix this. The easiest would be to check your startup items using msconfig and look for anything that references shell.exe. If you find it then uncheck it and reboot your computer.
There is a free program that works the same as msconfig but gets into more detail such as checking your registry for startup items. Its called Startup Control Panel and it may be worth trying.
If the first two suggestions don't fix the problem then I would do some spyware and virus scans within Safe Mode. You can start with Spybot and AdAware since they are free.