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Internet Explorer Error 217 Fix

Machine:  Dell Vostro 1500 Notebook
OS: Windows XP Home
Specs: Core2Duo 1.4GHz, 1GB RAM, 120GB HD

** Read to the end! **

internet-explorer1On an older  notebook today I found a new error (for me, at least).  Whenever Internet Explorer would start, an error would pop up simply titled “Error” , with the message “Runtime error 217 at 011d378b” and an “OK” button.  That’s it – no publisher information and no helpful hyperlink for more information.  After dismissing the error message, Internet Explorer would then start and browse normally.

For Internet Explorer to throw this error at startup, I was fairly sure the error was due to an add-on (or plugin) that could no longer start.  This machine recently had a severe virus infection cleared up with the subsequent uninstallation of extraneous helper programs and toolbars.

The 217 error is, in fact, due to a missing or corrupt Internet Explorer add-on.  Newer versions of IE will allow you to disable add-ons on a per-session basis, but this won’t fix or even identify the problem.  So…

The Fix
First let’s see where add-ons are managed in IE: 

  • if you can run Internet Explorer, click Tools –> Internet Options
  • If you cannot run Internet Explorer (this machine would not), go to Control Panel –> Network and Internet Connections –> Internet Options.  If you are using Classic View, just click Internet Options.
  • Click the Programs tab.  At the bottom of this tab in IE6 you will find two buttons:  Reset Web Settings and Manage add-ons.  In IE7 and IE8 you will find Manage add-ons; the Reset Web Settings is under the “Advanced” tab.
  • Click the Manage Add-ons button.  Here you will see the add-ons IE currently has installed. 

Any add-on you don’t want, or an add-on belonging to an uninstalled program, should be disabled.  Right-click any one of them and disable it.  Some have dependencies, so you may be asked to confirm.  This particular laptop previously had “MyFunCards” installed, but I also found entries for “AVG Safe Search” from AVG 9.0.  Here are entries I disabled:

  • MyFunCards (MindSpark)
  • AVG Safe Search
  • Toolbar BHO (MindSpark)
  • Search Assistant BHO (MindSpark)

The problem seemed to be found, fixed and resolved.  All I needed to do was restart IE, right?

Wrong.  the IE window would pop up for a split second and exit.  Turns out Comodo Antivirus and it suite of overprotective agents were preventing IE from starting at all!  I disabled the Comodo modules, started IE, ran through the welcome screens and started applying updates.  We’re back in business.