Microsoft Zune has stopped working – SOLVED!

A few days ago, I decided to update my Zune with some new music I had got. When I double-clicked on the desktop icon, there was no sign of the Zune window, and instead given a friendly message saying “Microsoft Zune has stopped working”. Clearly, this was a problem.

I tried the usual troubleshooting steps – reinstalling, clearing program settings in my user profile, etc etc. I did the stuff that I knew how to do, but I still wasn’t getting anywhere. My friend cluberti from the MSFN Forums is far more versed in debugging Windows applications than I am, so I asked for some help in figuring out what was going wrong.

Where I would be tippy-toeing from one event to the next, cluberti was dancing around the logs fast enough to make my head spin. Ultimately, he managed to boil the problem down with Vista’s DRM provider. For whatever reason, it looked like the request for my local DRM key was failing.

We managed to fix the problem though, so not all is lost. If you’re running into the problem, here’s a possible fix.

  1. Browse to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\. Make sure you are able to view hidden and system files.
  2. Make a full copy of the DRM folder. Store it somewhere safe.
  3. Delete the contents of the DRM folder – NOT the folder itself.
  4. Browse to this site (Use IE for this – not Firefox/Opera/whatever) and follow the instructions.
  5. Close IE.
  6. Open Zune.

Voila! It should (hopefully) be working again. Again, many thanks to cluberti for fixing a problem that I would have had no clue where to even begin looking.

For those interested, I’ve switched from my 60GB iPod 5G to a 120GB Zune, and I honestly couldn’t see myself going back anytime soon. The interface is simpler and easier to navigate*, it’ll play more audio and video formats than the iPod, the screen is larger, and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to break apart in my hands. If you haven’t played with one yet, do so now. You’ll think twice about asking for the new iPod for Christmas… 😉

*Most iPod users would say “How much simpler can you get?” Believe me, Zune is it.


  1. Get an iPod touch. You won’t regret and will never go back to the iPod classic or the Zune. Guaranteed.

  2. nick

    2008-11-21 at 13:49

    $250 gets me a 120GB Zune or an 8GB iPod Touch, and I can’t justify spending $450 to get the 32GB iTouch. Besides, I’ve got 50GB of music and that’s with a number of albums that I have yet to add. I hate using iTunes (It might work well in OSX, but it’s terrible in Windows), and working third party support for the iPod is somewhat lacking.

  3. I like the iPod touch, it’s got a nice form factor and decent battery life. However, the iTunes software on Windows is abhorrent (has been for quite some time now), and I still have no ability to download ala carte for a monthly fee (like Zune Pass). Plus, there’s nothing the iPod touch can do that the Zune 120 or 16GB flash cannot, and I get to permanently keep 10 songs per month in the Zune Pass on top of ala carte.

    Thus, for me anyway, the Zune Marketplace software is more useful to me than iTunes, and the Zune and iPod are a wash at this point when it comes to playing music. The tipping point for me is the Zune can synch and download new content wirelessly, and synch to the PC / Zune Marketplace wirelessly (which I do use extensively), plus if I lose the PC it’s on or happen to lose the drive holding all my music, I can go to the Zune Marketplace and re-download everything. I tried that with iTunes about 6 months ago when I lost a drive, and Apple’s response was basically “sorry, not our problem”. I was able to restore most of it off of the iPod, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    That in and of itself will keep me from using iTunes and an iPod.

  4. Dude, worked like a dream. Only deleted the contents of the DRM folder, and zune started right up, IE crashed when i clicked that link, but w/e, it worked anyway. Thanks a lot.

  5. This worked great, I made I had to know how to do it for Vista, (Hidden Folders) and all… but it worked great. This happened on my machine because of the hard were tied into DRM configuration, when I made hardware changes… via taking the hard drive out and putting it into another machine temporarily, then returning it back… it messed it up. Its working fine now in about 3 minutes. Too bad I took a week to research the issue, now I have about 125 podcasts to download and update! Not so bad with FIOS!

  6. “Hardware” … early… morning.

  7. C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindows
    I’m guessing I’m supposed to look in program files. Though
    I searched through the files and couldn’t find the “DRM”
    folder, even showed hidden files.

  8. This fix hasn’t worked on 64-bit Windows 7. Can’t even get the DRM file to show up. I can get in to it though. It is empty. Anyone got any ideas?

  9. Hey, I’m having this problem too and I have no idea how to do that. It looks like gibberish to me. I don’t even know where to start in going to the location in the first step. I’ve been trying for half an hour to figure this out and I just don’t get it. Zune stopped working a couple days ago. Could someone please help since I’m the only one who doesn’t get this at all?

    • zxian

      2014-06-16 at 11:59

      Sorry, the path name got mangled at some point. I’ve corrected the post to include the correct path. Simply open My Computer, and then copy/paste the bolded path into the address bar.

      I haven’t dealt with this in quite some time, so YMMV.

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