Windows 11

Slow File Transfer in Windows 11: Best 10 Fixes

Unlocking Fast File Transfers in Windows 11: 10 Proven Strategies


Several users report slow transfer speed when transferring a file or more in Windows 11. This issue can occur during transfer between two internal drives, an internal and an external drive, or two PCs over a network. This error is not usually a critical fault but can significantly impact productivity and user experience.

It can also be a symptom of underlying hardware or software issues. This error can result from a slow internet connection, congested network, incorrect network settings, driver problems, slow USB ports (2.0 vs. 3.0 or 3.1), drive formatting, drive fragmentation, low system resources, or background processes.

1. Use Another USB Port

Switching USB ports can quickly fix slow file transfer in Windows 11 for several reasons. Firstly, it avoids potential issues specific to a single port, like faulty hardware or software glitches. Secondly, different ports offer varying speeds, so using a faster one can significantly boost transfer times.

Thirdly, port overload due to multiple devices can slow things down, and switching ports eases congestion. Additionally, driver problems or outdated firmware can affect individual ports, and using another avoids these hiccups.

Finally, Windows might misconfigure settings for a particular port, and switching utilizes default settings for smooth transfers. While rare, physical port damage can also cause slowdowns, another port confirms functionality. Remember, trying a different port is a simple step that can often resolve slow file transfers in Windows 11.

2. Update the USB Drivers

Outdated USB drivers can act as roadblocks, slowing down communication between your PC and external devices. Updating them ensures they have the latest bug fixes, compatibility improvements, and optimizations for efficient data transfer.

  1.  Connect your PC to the internet.
  2. Open the Run dialog by pressing the Windows + R keys together, enter devmgmt.msc, and hit Enter.
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  3. Find the Universal Serial Bus controllers option, then expand it.
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  4. After that, right-click on the USB driver and click Update driver.
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  5. If it prompts you, then select the How do you want to search driver option.
  6. Then, click on Search automatically for updated driver software.
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  7. If there is a driver on your PC, select Browse my computer for driver software.
  8. Then, choose the correct location of the driver on your PC to update it.
  9. Finally, restart the computer.

3. Check the Hard Disk for Errors

File operations often slow down when the drive encounters errors like corrupted files, bad sectors, or file system inconsistencies. These issues force the disk to work harder to locate and read information, leading to sluggish transfer speeds.

Checking for hard disk errors can help speed up file transfers in Windows 11 because it identifies and repairs problems that can hinder data access and movement. Run the Windows built-in disk checking tool to detect and fix these errors, restoring the drive’s efficiency and potentially boosting file transfer performance.

3. Format the Drive

Formatting a drive can address slow file transfers in Windows 11 by resolving file system issues, removing fragmentation, and optimizing drive structure. This process erases all data and resets the drive to its original, uncluttered state.

It allows you to choose a more efficient file system, such as NTFS, which is generally faster than FAT32. Additionally, formatting can eliminate errors or inconsistencies hindering file operations, ensuring a cleaner and smoother transfer experience. Hence, format your hard drive .

4. Change the USB Drive/HDD Removal Policy

Windows 11 prioritizes convenience over speed for USB drives and HDDs by default. This process can lead to slower file transfers. Changing the removal policy to “Better performance” tells Windows to prioritize data transfer speed, allocate more resources, and optimize caching.

This often results in noticeably faster file transfers, especially for large files, but requires safely ejecting the drive before removal to avoid data loss. Here is how to do it:

  1. Open the Run dialog by pressing the Windows + R keys together, enter devmgmt.msc, and hit Enter.
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  2. Locate the Disk drives option, expand it, select the intended USB drive, then click Properties.
  3. Then, click the Policies tab, tap Better Performance, and enter OK.
    Slow File Transfer Windows 11

5. Repair all System Errors

The System File Checker (SFC) scan can help to scan for and repair system errors. It can help to fix several problems, including the slow file transfer in Windows 11. If the error arises from a corrupted system file, the SFC scan should fix the error.

Use the following steps to run the SFC scan:

  1. Press the Windows and S keys together and type cmd in the text field.
  2. Then, choose the Run as administrator option on the right side to start the Command Prompt with administrator privileges.
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  3. Once the User Account Control prompts you, select Yes to continue.
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  4. When the Command Prompt displays, enter the following command into the prompt and tap the Enter key to start an SFC scan:
    sfc /scannow
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  5. Once the scan is complete, copy and paste the command below and press the Enter key to run the command:
    DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
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  6. Finally, it would be best to restart your computer to implement repairs.

6. Scan the PC for Malware

The Windows Security built-in security tool protects your computer against viruses, malware, and other threats. It can help fix Windows 11 slow file transfer by scanning your PC for malware and removing any infections that may be causing it. Use the following steps to scan for malware:

  1. Hold the Windows + S keys down simultaneously, and type Windows Security in the search field. Then, open the Windows Security application.
  2. After opening, click on the Virus & threat protection option.
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  3. Thirdly, click Scan options to see all available scans.
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  4. On the next display, choose the Full scan option, then click Scan now to do a deep scan on your computer for viruses or malware.

7. Disable Drive Indexing

Drive indexing can speed up file searches but may slow down file transfers by competing for system resources. Disabling drive indexing temporarily can free up resources for more immediate file transfer tasks. This fix is especially helpful for large transfers or copying many files simultaneously.

Here are the associated steps:

  1. Locate the drive you intend to use for the file transfer, right-click it, and click Properties.
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  2. Look for a checkbox next to Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties, uncheck the box, then click Apply and OK to save the changes.
    Slow File Transfer Windows 11

8. Close the Unused Apps

Unused apps in Windows 11 slow down file transfers by consuming CPU, RAM, and disk bandwidth. Closing them frees up resources, potentially leading to significant speed improvements, especially for large files or limited resources. You can close unused apps with the Task Manager utility.

Use the following steps to complete this solution:

  1. Press the ctrl + shift + esc keys together to open the Task Manager.
  2. When it opens, open the Processes tab, identify the unused apps, and click End Task on the top of the display.
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  3. Finally, restart your PC.

9. Convert File Format to NTFS

Converting to NTFS format can boost file transfer speeds on Windows 11. NTFS is more efficient than FAT32, with enhanced performance for large files and transfer operations. It offers better file organization, smaller file sizes, journaling for data integrity, and supports larger file sizes, ideal for managing heavy data sets.

Here is how to do it:

  1. Press the Windows and S keys together and type cmd in the text field.
  2. Then, choose the Run as administrator option on the right side to start the Command Prompt with administrator privileges.
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  3. Once the User Account Control prompts you, select Yes to continue.
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  4. When the Command Prompt displays, enter the following command into the prompt and tap the Enter key:
    convert X:/fs:ntfs – Change X to your drive name.
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  5. Finally, allow the conversion process to complete.

10. Perform a Clean Boot

A clean boot helps troubleshoot your PC by starting Windows with minimal drivers and startup programs. This process can identify which driver or startup program is causing a problem. Performing a clean boot can help fix the problem by removing any conflicting software or service causing the error.

Here is how to do it.

  1. Press the Windows and R keys at once to open the Run dialog, type msconfig, and hit Enter.
  2. Then, find the Services tab, click on it, and tick on the Hide all Microsoft services box.
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  3.  Click on the Disable all button and then click Apply.
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  4. Select the Startup tab and then click Open Task Manager.
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  5. Right-click the first enabled app on the Task Manager tab and select Disable.
  6. Finally, follow step 6 to disable all enabled applications one after the other.
  7. After disabling the apps, close Task Manager.
  8. Restart your PC.
  9. You may then follow the steps again. But this time, you will enable the apps.

In conclusion, the frustration of watching a file transfer bar inch along at a snail’s pace is a universal Windows 11 experience. This article has equipped you with ten effective fixes to banish slow file transfer and reclaim productivity in Windows 11.

From optimizing network settings to tweaking drive policies, we’ve explored practical solutions for internal and external storage problems. Remember, the culprit behind slow transfers can be diverse, so a combination of these fixes might be the magic potion your system needs.

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Richard Omachona
Richard is a techie in providing fixes and solutions for computer issues of various kinds. Among his contemporaries, he is a preferred choice. His experiences are vast in Windows operating systems, and several other skills in programming such as Python, Web Frontend designing implementing at industry standards, best practices in HTML, CSS and JavaScript. and basics in Web Backend. He also loves traveling, gaming and music.