Fix: File Explorer is slow on Windows 10 & 11 [2022 Guide]

by Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • If File Explorer is acting slow on your Windows PC, don’t postpone speeding things up.
  • To make it faster, you may disable Cortana. However, this only applies if you're running Win 10.
  • Already jumped the Win 11? Try changing the folder optimization and tweak your File Explorer shortcuts a bit.
how to speed up file explorer

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The good old File Explorer has been around for a long time and is still one of the chosen few (programs, of course) that we integrate into our routines on a daily basis.

Here’s what to expect from the new File Explorer in a nutshell

As the default file management application on Windows 10, File Explorer has had its fair share of problems throughout the years. The fact that File Explorer acts slow seems to be a recurring issue that somehow managed to crawl into Microsoft’s freshest OS, Windows 11.

If we were to quickly compare Windows 10 and Windows 11 in terms of features, the File Explorer rapidly pops out as of the most important options to have undergone a massive overhaul along with the Start menu.

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Faster indexing
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Fewer crashes
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Streamlined toolbar
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Simplified icons

Besides the cosmetic part, the File Explorer also got a speed boost in Windows 11 and is now capable of indexing more locations. While the enhancements are not at all neglectable, the app is not yet perfect.

In fact, the File Explorer is still occasionally lagging in Windows 11, just as it does in Windows 10 and this is due to a memory leak issue that sends RAM usage through the roof for no apparent reason.

Don’t worry, if the File Explorer takes forever to load, we will show you exactly how to speed it up.

How do I fix a slow File Explorer and make it faster?

1. Disable Cortana

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter regedit. Click OK or press Enter.
  2. When the Registry Editor opens, in the left pane navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsSearchKey If this key isn’t available, you need to create it. Simply right-click the Windows key and choose New > Key. Now enter Windows Search as the name of the new key.
  3. Once you open the Windows Search key, right-click the empty space on the right pane and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  4. Enter AllowCortana as the name of the new DWORD. Double click AllowCortana DWORD and set its Value data to 0. Click OK to save changes.
  5. Close Registry Editor and restart your computer.

If you don’t want to edit the registry manually, you can use a .reg file to make the necessary changes. To do that, do the following:

  1. Download this file.
  2. Open the downloaded file and extract all files.
  3. Now double click on Disable Cortana.reg file.
  4. A confirmation message will appear. Click Yes to continue.
  5. Optional: If you want to enable Cortana again, simply run Enable Cortana.reg file.

If for whatever reason you are not able to access the Registry Editor, you can tackle that issue first or you can go for a completely different approach and use the Group Policy to disable Cortana.

Here’s what this solution looks like:

Another way to disable Cortana is to use Group Policy. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter gpedit.msc.
  2. The local Group Policy Editor will now start. In the left pane navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search
  3. In the right pane, locate Allow Cortana and double click it.
  4. Select the Disabled option and click Apply and OK to save changes.

Cortana can be one of the reasons for which File Explorer is so slow, so you might want to disable it.

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Tip
One of the most anticipated features of Windows 10, Cortana is deprecated in Windows 11 along with Spnipping Tool, Skype, and more.

If you’re running Win 11, feel free to skip this solution altogether and focus on the troubleshooting steps below.

2. Check your Quick access list

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Locate the problematic folder in the Quick access menu in the left pane.
  3. Right-click the folder you want to remove and choose Unpin from Quick access.

The Quick access list is extremely useful if you want to navigate to a certain folder rapidly. However, few users noticed that Quick Access is slowing down File Explorer.

Network folders that aren’t currently available can cause this problem, so be sure to remove them as shown above. If that solves it, remember to add the removed folders to the Quick access list once again.

Alternatively, you can set the File Explorer to open by default to This PC instead of Quick Access. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. In the left pane, right-click Quick access and choose Options from the menu.
  3. Folder Options window will appear. Under the General tab, change Open File Explorer to This PC.
  4. Click Apply and OK to save changes.
  5. Optional: Disable all options in the Privacy section and click the Clear button.

Some users also suggest disabling the Always search file name and contents option under File Explorer Options.

3. Change folder optimization

  1. Right-click the folder that’s slowing down File Explorer. Choose Properties from the menu.
  2. Go to the Customize tab.
  3. Set Optimize this folder for to General items. If this value is already set, select any other value from the list. After that, switch it back to General items.
  4. Check Also apply this template to all subfolders.
  5. Click Apply and OK to save changes.

Windows 10 frequently performs optimization in the background and that can cause File Explorer to be slow.

If this error occurs when trying to access a specific folder, you might want to change that folder’s optimization.

Note that if multiple folders are involved, you’ll have to repeat this solution for every affected item.

Few users reported that they solved this issue by setting the optimization to Documents, so you might want to try that as well.

4. Restart File Explorer

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard to start Task Manager.
  2. Once Task Manager starts, locate Windows Explorer and right-click it. Choose Restart from the menu.

Alternatively, you can simply end Windows Explorer processes and start it again from Task Manager. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Locate Windows Explorer in the list of processes. Right-click it and choose End task from the menu.
  2. Now click the File menu in the Task Manager and choose Run new task.
  3. Enter explorer and click the OK button. File Explorer will now start again.

Keep in mind that this is just a temporary workaround, so you’ll have to repeat this solution every time File Explorer becomes slow.

Another solution that we strongly recommend is to install a dedicated third-party file manager which is designed to work fast on slow PCs.

We recommend WinZip in regards to its performant engine that optimizes the process and allows you to compress your files in several known formats.

5. Reset File Explorer view to default

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter file explorer options. Choose File Explorer Options from the list of results.
  2. Go to the View tab and click the Reset Folders button. When the confirmation message appears, click Yes.
  3. Click Apply and OK to save changes.

7. Use the existing File Explorer shortcut or create a new one

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Tip
The File Explorer is mostly slow if started by clicking its icon. In order to circumvent this issue, simply use the Windows Key + E shortcut on your keyboard.

Alternatively, you can create a new shortcut. However, keep in mind that these are permanent solutions.

  1. Right-click empty space on your Desktop and choose New > Shortcut from the menu.
  2. When the Create Shortcut window opens, enter this value in the Type the location of the item field C:Windowsexplorer.exe Alternatively, you can click the Browse button and locate explorer.exe manually. Once you’re done, click Next.
  3. Enter the desired name for your shortcut and click Finish.
  4. Now locate the newly created shortcut, right-click it, and choose Properties from the menu.
  5. Go to the Shortcut tab.
  6. Locate the Target field and add /n at the end. After making the change your Target field should look like this: C:Windowsexplorer.exe /n Click Apply and OK to save changes.

If explorer.exe is lagging in Windows 10, you might be able to fix it by using certain launch parameters. We have to mention that this is just a workaround, so you’ll need to use this new shortcut every time you want to start File Explorer.

8. Check the Indexing options

8.1. Check Indexing Options

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter indexing options. Select Indexing Options from the menu.
  2. A list of all indexed folders will appear. To remove a certain folder, click the Modify button.
  3. Now uncheck the problematic folder and click OK to save changes.

The File Explorer slow indexing issues can appear if you added large folders with many subfolders and files to the index. After removing large folders from the index, the problem should be completely resolved.

8.2. Rebuild the index

Another solution is to rebuild the index and this is rather simple to achieve:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter indexing options. Choose Indexing Options from the menu.
  2. When Indexing Options window opens, click Advanced.
  3. Now click on the Rebuild button.

After the rebuilt, the issue with File Explorer indexing slowly should be resolved, but you can always tweak it further and disable and enable indexing as per your needs.

8.3. Disable indexing for your drives

  1. Open This PC.
  2. Locate the drive that you want to disable indexing for and right-click it. Choose Properties from the menu.
  3. Navigate to the General tab and unchecked Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties. Click the Apply button.
  4. A confirmation menu will appear. Select Apply changes to the drive, subfolders, and files. Click OK.

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Keep in mind that you might have to repeat this process for all larger drives on your PC until you fill the slow File Explorer issue for good. Feel free to check out more details about drive indexing and how it works.

9. Remove corrupted files

  1. Type cmd in the search area and choose to open the Command Prompt (Admin).
  2. When Command Prompt starts, enter sfc /scannow and press Enter.
  3. Wait for the SFC scan to complete.

File Explorer can become slow if some Windows components are corrupted. However, you can fix corrupted components with an SFC scan. To do that, follow the steps above.

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Tip
A few users reported they were unable to run this scan as SFC/scannow suddenly stopped. if that’s the case for you as well, feel free to run a DISM scan instead.

To perform a DISM scan, do the following:

  1. Open Command Prompt as administrator.
  2. When Command Prompt opens, enter the following lines: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealthDISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealthDISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  3. Wait for the DISM to finish.
  4. After the DISM scan is completed, try to perform the SFC scan again.

File corruption is unfortunately not uncommon and it can lead to all kinds of issues, including File Explorer crashes or slowness on Windows 10 as well as on Windows 11.

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10. Use Event Viewer to fix the problem

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter the event. Choose the Event Viewer from the list of results.
  2. In the left pane, navigate to Windows Logs > Application.
  3. In the right pane, click the Clear Log option.
  4. Open File Explorer and wait for the problem to appear again. Sometimes it might take a few minutes for the problem to appear, so be patient.
  5. After the problem appears, go to the Event Viewer and click on Windows Logs > Application again.
  6. Now check the available errors from the list. Navigate to the Details or General tab on the bottom to see which file caused the error.

According to some users, DTShellHlp.exe was the cause of this problem on their PC and is related to Deamon Tools. After removing Deamon Tools, the issue with slow File Explorer was resolved completely.

If you are unable to remove it from your PC, try removing Deamon Tools entries from the registry. Alternatively, you can use any third-party event log viewer tools you fancy to perform this operation successfully.

11. Check your Internet connectivity

11.1. Check LAN settings

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter Internet options. Choose Internet Options from the menu.
  2. When Internet Properties window opens, go to the Connections tab and click on LAN settings.
  3. In the Automatic configuration section disable Automatically detect settings option. Click OK to save changes.

11.2. Use netsh winsock reset command

  1. Open the Command Prompt (Admin).
  2. When Command Prompt opens, enter netsh winsock reset and run the command. netsh winsock reset catalog
  3. After the command is executed, close Command Prompt and restart your PC.

After your PC starts again, check if the problem with File Explorer being slow should be resolved.

12. Enable Launch folder windows in a separate process option

  1. Open File Explorer Options and navigate to the View tab.
  2. In the Advanced settings section, check the Launch folder windows in a separate process option.
  3. Click Apply and OK to save changes.

After enabling this option, the problem with File Explorer should be completely resolved.

13. Create a new user account

  1. Press Windows Key + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Go to Accounts > Family & other people.
  3. In the Other people section, click the Add someone else to this PC button.
  4. Click on I don’t have this person’s sign-in information.
  5. Now click on Add a user without a Microsoft account.
  6. Enter a username and password for the new account and click Next.

After creating a new user account, switch to it and check if the issue is resolved. If the problem doesn’t appear on the new account, move all your files to it and use it as your main account.

How do I fix the Windows Explorer slow green bar?

1. Disable Windows Search service

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter services.msc. Press Enter or click OK.
  2. When the Services window opens, locate Windows Search and double click it.
  3. Once the Properties window opens, set the Startup type to Disabled. If the service is running, click the Stop button to stop it.
  4. Now click Apply and OK to save changes.

Windows 10 uses all sorts of services in order to run, but sometimes certain services can cause problems. If File Explorer is slow on your PC, that might be due to the Windows Search service.

2. Start a new instance of File Explorer

  1. Start File Explorer by clicking its icon in the Taskbar. Minimize the File Explorer window or just ignore it.
  2. Navigate to the File Explorer Taskbar icon and right-click it. Choose File Explorer from the menu.
  3. Now you’ll have two File Explorer windows open. The first File Explorer window will be sluggish while the newly opened one will work without issues. Close the sluggish window and continue using the new one.

Alternatively, you can try to unpin File Explorer from the Taskbar.

To do that, simply locate the File Explorer icon in the Taskbar, right-click it and choose Unpin from Taskbar.

3. Remove files from the Database folder

  1. Go to the folder: C:\Users\YourUsername\AppData\Local\TileDataLayer\Database
  2. Now delete all files from the Database folder.
  3. After doing that, you need to rebuild your index as shown in one of our previous solutions.

Users reported that removing the files and rebuilding the index not only solved the slow green bar issue with the File Explorer but also helped them restore their missing Windows 10 thumbnails.

4. Disable show status bar option

  1. Simply open File Explorer Options and go to the View tab.
  2. Now locate the Show status bar option and disable it.
  3. Click Apply and OK to save changes.
  4. After you’re done, restart your PC and check if the problem is fixed.

How can I fix the File Explorer is working on it error?

1. Use the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter memory. Select Windows Memory Diagnostic from the list of results.
  2. Windows Memory Diagnostic window will now appear. Click Restart now and check for problems (recommended) option. Your PC will now restart and test your memory. After the testing process is completed, start File Explorer and check if the issue is resolved.

Alternatively, you can try one of these professional hardware diagnostic tools for Windows 10.

2. Install the latest Windows updates

  1. Press Windows Key + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to the Update & Security section and click on Check for updates button. If any updates are available, Windows will download and install them automatically.

After the latest updates are installed, check if the problem still persists.

3. Uninstall problematic applications

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Tip
Almost any application can interfere with the File Explorer and slow down its performance.

We recommend you gear up with a trustworthy uninstaller tool such as IObit and start your quest to find those troublesome apps and remove them.

3.1. Uninstall DropBox

DropBox is a popular cloud storage service, but according to users, this application can cause the File Explorer to become slow.

If you’re getting a Working on it message while using File Explorer, you might want to try uninstalling DropBox. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to the System section and choose Apps & features.
  3. A list of all installed applications will appear. Select DropBox from the list and click Uninstall.

After removing DropBox, check if the problem is resolved. If so, download and install the latest version of DropBox. Alternatively, you can download and try the DropBox Universal app from the Microsoft Store.

3.2. Disable the NVIDIA Control Panel option from the context menu

  1. Open NVIDIA Control Panel.
  2. When the application opens, go to the Desktop menu and disable all available options.

NVIDIA Control Panel is software that allows you to optimize your graphics card. While it’s a rather useful application, repeated NVidia CPanel crashes can make File Explorer slow.

Don’t forget to check if this problem is caused by related processes and end them if such is the case.

End NVIDIA processes

To check if NVIDIA applications are causing this issue, you need to start Task Manager to locate NVIDIA processes and end them.

If that solves the problem, you might want to prevent NVIDIA applications from running automatically on your PC.

3.3. Disable the TDM service

  1. Open the Services window, locate TDM Service, and set its Startup type to Disabled.
  2. In addition, be sure to stop the service as well.
  3. After you disable the service and restart your PC, the problem will be completely resolved.

Few users reported that Wave Authentication Manager and Intel Rapid Storage Technology service can also cause a problem, so be sure to disable them as well.

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NOTE
We have to mention that this solution only applies to Dell computers that have the TDM feature. If you have the TDM feature on your PC, be sure to disable it and check if that solves the problem.

3.4. Disconnect and reconnect external storage

External storage can cause File Explorer to become slow. To temporarily fix this problem, try disconnecting and reconnecting your external hard drive or storage.

We hope you managed to take your File Explorer to a snappier state with the help of our tips. If it’s not so much the slowness that bothers you, but other pesky errors, rest assured that we always got your back.

Feel free to explore our extensive File Explorer troubleshooting guides and make use of the valuable resources at hand to manage your file like a true pro!

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • If Windows Explorer takes too long to open a folder, it’s most likely that something went wrong with the Quick access list, some File Explorer settings, or Cortana itself.

  • If your wish is to make File Explorer run faster, then try to disable Cortana and apply these quick fixes.

  • The issue is often the result of running an outdated version, so install the latest Windows Updates. If you can’t, just use these reliable tips to solve update problems.

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