The following guide provides you with a solution for folders opening very slowly in Windows Explorer or File Explorer on a Windows device.
Recently, I started to notice that one folder on a Windows 7 machine was very slow to open. It took minutes literally for files to be displayed and was a very frustrating experience. Other folders opened fine and in less than a second usually which made the issue quite puzzling.
It took a while to figure out why the folder was slow loading, and how to fix the issue to speed things up again.
The folder was the machine's download folder where all downloads and file transfers landed. It grew to a size of roughly 250 Gigabytes of data with all file types present: videos, photos, documents, programs and music.
I first assumed it was simply too big, or that the many files and subfolders inside would be the cause of the loading animation in the location bar. But deleting files and folders did not fix the problem.
There were other possibilities of which I explored all but none fixed the problem. This included antivirus software, shell extensions, the view mode or thumbnail caching.
It took a while to figure out what caused the slow folders issue on the system that I examined. Note that this appears to be a very common issue but it is definitely not the only one.
I checked the folder properties to see how this folder was optimized in Windows 7. It was set to pictures. This was not right, since the majority of files in that folder were not pictures but videos.
I changed that value to videos and placed a checkmark in the "also apply this template to all subfolders" checkbox. (it also worked changing it to general items and documents with general items probably the best choice.
To change the option do the following:
If you are using Windows 8 or Windows 10, do the following instead:
The result was incredible. The folder contents where displayed right away without loading time. I reverted the settings only to experience the slow loading folder contents once again.
It is safe to assume that this is some kind of caching gone wrong. I'm not sure why it was set to pictures in first place but this is the cause for the slow loading folder.
Windows may optimize folders for certain content types. That's fine if it works, and a folder full of photos gets optimized with the pictures template. Not so fine if Windows gets it wrong though, as you will end up with a slow opening folder.
Update: The issues may occur on newer versions of the Windows operating system as well. The most likely cause is that the folder has been optimized for the display of pictures, but it may also be that other optimization types are assigned to it that slow down the display of the contents.
My suggestion is to always select General Items and check the "Also apply this template to all subfolders" option as well to make sure that all subfolders are also optimized as general items.
Check out How to fix slow folders in Windows Explorer for additional tips.
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