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Windows 10 File Explorer Slow (FIXED) – Working Solutions

File Explorer is one of the best apps that Microsoft has developed. It’s been a part of the OS for years and Windows’ users generally like it. You might see recommendations for a few alternate file managers for Windows but the major portion of users stick with File Explorer.

Why is File Explorer so slow?

File Explorer can generally handle large folders really well, even those with lots of heavy images in them. A folder will open within seconds and you will be able to see thumbnail previews for supported file types. The folder view will be presented however you’ve set it. In some cases, the File Explorer does slow down and it can slow down to a point where you have to wait quite a few seconds before you can interact with files in a folder.

There are quite a few different symptoms of File Explorer running slow. Generally, when you open File Explorer it tends to take a few seconds to show files, the thumbnails may not generate right away, the location bar that fills with a green progress bar may take exceptionally long to fill, the folder view may take a few seconds to load, navigating between folders might be slow, and more. Since there are so many different things that can slow down in File Explorer, you will find a variety of different fixes.

Possible fixes for File Explorer slow:

1. Rebuild thumbnail cache

Thumbnails may seem like a small thing but it isn’t easy generating thumbnails for lots of files. If File Explorer has slowed down, or the files in a folder are taking a long time to load, it is possible that the thumbnail cache has errors in it. You can rebuild it easily.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Go to This PC.
  3. Right-click the C drive, or your Windows drive, and select Properties from the context menu.
  4. On the General tab, click Disk Cleanup.
  5. Make sure Thumbnails is selected and click OK.

2. Reset Folder options

Resetting folder options can help speed up File Explorer but it will also reset the folder layouts you’ve set up. It is worth it though since it can speed up File Explorer.

  1. Open File Explorer and go to the View tab.
  2. Click the Options button.
  3. Select Change folder and search options.
  4. Go to the View tab.
  5. Click the Reset Folders button.

3. Rebuild search index

File Explorer indexes files as they are added or created. This allows the files to be found quickly when you use Windows Search or when you use the search bar in File Explorer. Rebuilding it can speed the app up.

  1. Open Control Panel in the Icons view.
  2. Select Indexing Options.
  3. On the Indexing Options window, click Advanced.
  4. On the Advanced Options window, click Rebuild.

4. Reset Winstock settings

Resetting Winstock can fix all sorts of problems with File Explorer.

  1. Open Command Prompt with admin rights.
  2. Enter the following command and restart your computer.
netsh winsock reset

5. Change/Toggle File Explorer home folder

File Explorer can open to one of two locations; This PC and Quick Access. It can help if you set it to open to This PC instead of Quick Access.

  1. Open File Explorer and go to the View tab.
  2. Click the Options button.
  3. Select Change folder and search options.
  4. On the General tab, open the ‘Open File Explorer to’ dropdown.
  5. Select This PC.

6. Run Search and indexing troubleshooter

The Search and Indexing troubleshooter can resolve quite a few problems with File Explorer.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to the Update & Security group of settings.
  3. Select the Troubleshoot tab.
  4. Run the Search and Indexing troubleshooter, and run it.

7. Restart File Explorer

If File Explorer tends to run sluggishly on occasion, restarting it is often a good, quick solution. There are several different ways to restart File Explorer but here’s the quickest method.

  1. Right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager.
  2. Go to the Processes tab.
  3. Look for Windows Explorer.
  4. Select it, and click the Restart button at the bottom right.

8. Run sfc scan

An sfc scan is a lot like the restart your PC solution. It can help fix a lot of problems.

  1. Open Command Prompt with admin rights (right-click it and select run as administrator).
  2. Run the following command. It will take 15 minutes at the very least to complete.
sfc /scannow

9. Shell extensions

File Explorer’s functionality can be expanded by installing extensions. They are, generally, small apps that can marginally improve File Explorer. That said, too many extensions can slow it down so go through the ones you have and uninstall the ones you don’t need.

  1. Open Control panel.
  2. Go to Programs.
  3. Click Uninstall a program.
  4. Select an extension and click Uninstall.

10. Edit the context menu

Apps tend to add items to the context menu. These items can also slow File Explorer down. You can disable items that you don’t use.

  1. Download ShellMenuView and run it.
  2. Run it and it will populate all the items that appear in the context menu.
  3. Select items that you do not use, and click the disable button.

Which one fixed your problem?

File Explorer is a very robust app. Over the years, it’s only improved in terms of features and performance. It can handle exceptionally complex file directories and lots of files. If it does happen to slow down, there is usually an easy way to fix it. Which one did?


  1. Run Search and indexing troubleshooter – This actually worked ! 1st time a troubleshooter actually did something. Ran this the 1st time, then asked me to run it again as administrator and it fixed the issue opening explorer !

  2. Tried the Winsock reset, SFC scan and Explorer view options – didn’t notice any improvement after a reboot.
    Currently rebuilding the index and it’s already considerably quicker even though it hasn’t finished yet, so I think we found the problem

    Thanks very much!

  3. File explorer is crap always has been – the search facility is really really poor and Quick access is the latest most useless addition.

    How you say it is one of the best apps MS have developed in years – seriously they haven’t developed it in years that is the problem – i can only guess you are being paid by MS

  4. Thank you this helped greatly! I utilized all of the tips since they all seem very performance enhancing regardless.

    I didn’t know about that windows feature enabler. I also ended up fixing windows media player (it would never launch, or glitch when I would use it.) To do this, I simply disabled it, restarted my PC and enabled it again.

    Thanks again <:o)

  5. I found out that the real problem was a “Quick access” link to a network drive that did not exist on the network anymore.

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