Sometimes you may experience lags when you open a folder in Windows Explorer. Chance is, it is always the same folder that takes a darn long time to display its contents. Question is: How can you fix a folder that is opening slowly in Windows?
Analyzing the underlying issue is not as easy as it sounds, as there are multiple possibilities why a folder is not displaying its file contents instantly. Among the possibilities are hardware issues like hard drive read errors and software issues like the wrong folder optimization under Windows 7 or newer versions of the operating system.
Hardware wise, the best thing that you can do is to run check disk on the hard drive containing the folder that is causing the slow downs.
You can do that by right-clicking on the drive in Windows Explorer and selecting Properties from the context menu. Switch to the Tools tab and locate Error-checking there. Click the Check now button. Depending on your setup, you may not be able to scan the disk while Windows is running. Accept the suggestion to run scan disk on the next startup instead. Reboot your computer afterwards.
If scan disk found errors and was able to correct them, you may want to try again accessing the folder. If that resolved the issue congratulations, if not read on.
You can also try and defragment the hard drive to speed things up a bit. This only works if you have a conventional platter based hard drive and not a Solid State Drive. You should also make sure that the drive is not filled to the brim. Experts suggest to keep between 10% and 20% of space unoccupied on SSDs, for hard drives most aim at the 10% mark as well.
You also want to make sure that your system is not running at its capacities right now. Press Ctrl-Shift-Esc to bring up the Windows Task Manager and switch to the performance tab. If you see cpu usage or memory at the maximum you should investigate that issue first. Maybe you have too many programs open at the same time, or run a program like a video editing tool that needs all the resources it can get, leaving little for the remaining system.
The same is true for the hard drive in question. If you have lots of read and write operations on the drive, it may slow down the opening of folders, even more so if the drive is not the fastest hard drive.
Before you make any changes, restart the computer and try accessing the folder right after the new start of the system. Is it opening faster or as slow as before?
Take a good look at the folder. How many files are stored in it? Hundreds, thousands, more than that? One thing that I'd try if the folder contains a lot of files is to split the files up in two different folders, to see if that fixes the lags.
What types of files are in that folder? One thing that is helping a lot of Windows users is to check the folder optimization preference to see if the automatic optimization got it right. This is available under Windows 7 and newer versions of Windows.
Right-click the folder in Windows Explorer and select Properties. Switch to the Customize tab and check the Optimize this folder for setting.
You should select General Items if mixed file types are located in the folder, for instance if you have documents, executable files and music in that folder. If you have only one type of files in that folder, you should select the appropriate type if available, for instance videos if the folder contains only video files. You can alternatively move files out of the folder that do not belong there, for instance a single video file if all other files are mp3 files.
Select the new optimization option and click on Ok afterwards. Access the folder in Windows Explorer to see if the change got rid of the lags that you experienced when opening the folder. You may also want to test to see if the General optimization option fixes the issue, regardless of files in the folder.
Malware on the system is another possibility. I suggest you run different security applications to check your system for malware that your standard antivirus solution might have missed. Here are a few suggestions: AVG Free, Avast or Microsoft Security Essentials.
Indexing is another area that you may want to investigate. Click the start orb and enter indexing in the start menu search form. This opens the Indexing Options that highlight all folders that are included in the indexing. Check if your folder or the drive your folder is located on is listed there. If it is remove if, unless you need to be able to search the files of that folder regularly. Even if you do, I suggest you disable indexing temporarily to see if it resolves the slow folder issues.
You can disable indexing completely under Windows Services. Press Windows-r, type services.msc and hit enter. Locate Windows Search in the list of services, right-click it and select properties from the context menu. Select disabled as the startup type and click OK. This disables indexing for all drives on the computer.
Anything that we missed? Let us know in the comments.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.