now that worked! I have attached a copy of the ini file but I had to clean many paths, search keywords etc. because those contained classified information/strings. sorry, no way around that!
fresh;removes any settings, shortcuts, catalogs? I'm currently not at the computer to check that but it sounds like I would lose all settings, history etc. which would cost a lot of time to reset too. But before it doesn't work at all, I'll use a fresh portable copy.
If you're settings are worth it would recommend to copy you're current settings section-wise into the XYplorer.ini from a new/second instance (with a dedicated XYplorer home directory) until you have your "Gotcha!".
and you're absolutely right! That was it!