Actually, that's a slight exaggeration; this annoying problem only cost me Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Yesterday, without apparent provocation, Windows Explorer's file context menus began to appear extremely slowly. I'd right-click on a file, and Explorer would take a trip to Hourglass Land; sometimes it would take up to 5 minutes to emerge from its coma.
A Web search revealed that I had lots of company, but no definitive solutions. I ran Windows Update. I defragged my hard drive. I optimized my registry. I installed FileMon and RegMon to see if they could uncover any obvious problems: Nope.
I did notice that if I logged on as a different user, the problem didn't manifest itself, so it was apparently something in my user-specific registry settings. Finally, I stumbled upon this post from Kent W. England. I looked in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\\*\\shellex\\ContextMenuHandlers, and there it was: A reference to a seldom-used shell extension which had apparently been uninstalled or otherwise corrupted. I deleted the offending registry key, and voila: Problem solved!
This, right after I'd had to repair the Windows installation on my laptop, because the Workstation service refused to start. See? That Friday-the-13th superstition is bogus: It's Friday the 20th we need to watch out for!
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