Windows Vista has problems with large zip files

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 1, 2007
Updated • Nov 28, 2012

I think it is really interesting that a lot of unusual problems start to appear on blogs and websites that users have with Windows Vista. Makes me think why no one found out about it during the extensive beta tests but that is another story. The How-To Geek is reporting a problem with large zip files under Windows Vista.

Copying a large zip file, in this case a 11-Gigabyte one, caused the Windows Vista explorer to freeze. "It seems that Windows Vista file explorer (by default) attempts to recurse into any zip archives in a direct subdirectory, allowing users to view the contents of the zip file directly in the sidebar."

This means that even though you are using another software to unzip files Windows Vista uses the build in zip support to access that file as well which does not make sense at all. It would make sense if you would be using the build in zip functionality of Windows Vista but not if you use a third-party application like Winzip.

The solution was posted as well. The internal zip file support of Windows Vista had to be disabled. This can be easily done with a software like ShellExView from Nirsoft.


The screenshot below shows which items have to be disabled to get rid of the large zip file problem in Windows Vista. Just run the program, make sure the data is sorted by name, right-click the Compressed (zipped) and CompressedFolder entries and select disable selected items from the context menu or press F7 which is the keyboard shortcut for the operation.

If you actually experience this problem right now you might want to kill the explorer process and load it afterwards again. This can be done by pressing Windows R and typing in explorer.exe.


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  1. Alter Falter! said on November 1, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Moin Martin,schreibst du dir jetzt auch schon deine eigenen Kommentare? ;-)

  2. Martin said on November 2, 2007 at 9:24 am

    That’s a bug, not sure what is causing it though..

  3. Cart Hansel said on January 10, 2008 at 2:34 am

    I have zip files of 1-3 MB and when I try to open them windows goes crazy and the only way I can use my computer is to restart it. Are these considered large files. I, of course, have Windows Vista. Is this a Vista problem with zip files.

    Thank you,

    Carl Hansel

  4. I have that problem too... said on June 30, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    My other computer was dying so I zipped the whole C: drive into one zip file with 4gb spliting, now I cant open the 23gb zip file in vista, I get errors :( with winzip pro

  5. Matt said on October 19, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Have just bought a new HP Slimline (AMD Athlon 64 running on Windows Vista Home Premium, which crashes and re-starts windows when I try to unzip files through windows. Anyone else had this problem?

  6. me said on April 23, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    This “bug” has been in Windows since XP. It’s there because MS persist to try and take over functionality used by the likes of WinZip and WinRar.

    Unfortunately, the level of working of “MS Zip” (or whatever it is called), is actually pretty low, even to that extent that Windows would be better, without this buggy behaviour.

    If you want to lock up your computer, do something with large zipfiles. It’s not even a 64-bit issue or so, it’s just MS not knowing how to handle reading of Zipfiles.

  7. Maya said on May 20, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Why is the solution to disable VIsta zip handling?

    Why doesn’t Microsoft either fix the major ZIP bug in Vista, or just plain remove the functionality altogether.

    I only purchased a Vista laptop recently, and have windows updated enabled, so you’d think something as major as this would have been sorted long ago alreay.

    This bug has cost me hours of labour already (mine didn’t hang, it just told me it was unzipping, tok forever, then when I starting working I noticed files here and there hadn’t updated…)

    C’mon MS, you can write an entire operating system, but you can’t get a simple zip uility right… oh, wait..

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