There are some instances when the iexplore.exe process is still running in Task Manager even after the Internet Explorer browser is closed. The behavior can be encountered from older Internet Explorer versions to all the way up to Internet Explorer 11.
This particular behavior warns users about a malicious or not-malicious add-on which prevents Internet Explorer from performing a correct shutdown.
This article will help you to fix the mentioned issue. There are four potential methods that could help users to resolve the iexplore.exe process running after closing Internet Explorer.
Method 1: Fix the iexplore.exe process by dealing with a security risk
There are a few major giveaways that indicate of a malicious add-on. In order to check if your system is infected, you have to look at the exact spelling of the process in Task Manager. To do so, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc and see if the task is called iexplorer.exe (and not iexplore.exe). Sometimes the process is modified by malware to camouflage as a legitimate executable. So if the process in your Task Manager is called iexplorer.exe, then you are probably dealing with a malicious executable.
The next step would be to scan your system with a reliable antivirus application. If the third-party antivirus application does not reveal any security threats, then you should also scan the system with Microsoft Safety Scanner. In some cases, this scanner effectively identified and removed trojans related to this issue.
Method 2: Fix the iexplore.exe process by removing Adobe PDF link helper
Some users reported that this kind of behavior can be encountered after the installation of non-malicious add-on which runs through the Internet Explorer browser. In this case, the most common add-on is Adobe PDF link helper.
However, do not forget that Adobe PDF link helper is a legitimate add-on and will not damage your system in any way, but will consume a small chunk of resources. If you want to analyze your Internet Explorer Add-ons, open Internet Explorer, select the setting when on the top-right corner and click on Manage add-ons and scroll through the list to see if there is Adobe PDF link helper. The add-on is not malicious but it keeps the iexplore.exe running even after closing the Internet Explorer browser.
If you want to disable the Adobe PDF link helper add-on, simply right click on it and select Disable. Finally, close Internet Explorer and restart your PC.
Method 3: Fix the iexplore.exe process by running Internet Explorer in no add-ons mode
In order to confirm if Internet Explorer add-ons are causing this issue, see if the iexplore.exe executable is running after you close the Internet Explorer browser. To do so, launch the Internet Explorer browser and in the address bar type ‘about: NoAdds-ons', then press Enter. The message noticing about the Internet Explorer browser running without an add-on should appear.
After you close all add-ons, close the Internet Explorer browser and press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to launch Task Manager. If the process is no longer running, then one of the add-ons is causing the problem.
In order to find out which of the add-ons cause the issue, open Internet Explorer, go to Settings and click on Manage Add-ons and disable anything that is not signed by Oracle or Microsoft Corporation.
Further disable all of remaining add-ons, close the browser and check the Task Manager to see if the process is still running. By doing this every type you enable each add-on, you will discover which one causes the issue. Then simply disable it and remove it from Internet Explorer’s add-ons list.
Method 4: Fix the iexplore.exe process by investigating your third-party antivirus application
There are instances that the issue can be caused by a third-party antivirus suite, including Sophos Antivirus, Symantec Endpoint Protection, and Avira Antivirus.
If you have one of these antivirus applications, try to disable their real-time protection, open Internet Explorer and close it again. Then see if the iexplorer.exe is still running after you close the Internet Explorer browser.
If it appears the third-party antivirus suite is causing the problem try to get in touch with the associated technical support or simply install a different antivirus application.