Windows 11

Slow Windows 11 File Explorer: 9 Best Fixes


Windows 11 File Explorer can sometimes be slow. This problem may range from a rare annoyance to a frequent and frustrating hindrance. When you face this issue, try to identify the cause. Is it slow all the time, or is it just with specific folders or files? Significant slowdowns can impede productivity.

In rare cases, underlying issues might lead to data corruption. While it is not always a critical issue, it can be frustrating and time-consuming. However, it can greatly affect productivity and workflow, especially if you rely heavily on navigating files and folders.

Why is File Explorer running so slow?

Diagnosing exactly why the Windows 11 File Explorer is slow can be tricky. Here are a few of the possible reasons we know:

  • File Explorer demands resource-intensive tasks like indexing and thumbnail generation. If your hardware (RAM or processor) can’t keep up, it’ll lead to slowdowns.
  • A worn-out or failing hard drive can cause notable access delays, affecting File Explorer performance.
  • Background programs can consume resources and slow down File Explorer.
  • Outdated drivers for your storage controller or graphics card can also cause issues.
  • While essential for security, some antivirus programs can be resource-heavy and impact File Explorer’s performance.
  • An incomplete or problematic indexing process can hinder File Explorer’s search and navigation capabilities.
  • System file corruption can cause various issues, including File Explorer slowness.
  • The Quick Access feature stores frequently accessed folders for faster access. However, it can sometimes become outdated or corrupted, causing slowdowns.
  • Dealing with large or fragmented files can strain File Explorer, leading to slowdowns.
    While less common, malware can also affect system performance and File Explorer.

1. Restart the File Explorer

Restarting File Explorer offers a quick refresh to clear temporary glitches and free up resources, often resolving performance issues like slowness, freezing, or unresponsiveness. It’s like a quick reboot for the file management system, giving it a fresh start to function smoothly.

The following steps will help you restart File Explorer:

  1. Hit ctrl + alt + del at once and select Task Manager from the list of options.
    windows 11 black screen with cursor
  2. When it opens, click Details, click explorer.exe, and click End task at the top-right of the screen.
    file explorer keeps opening
  3. Then, click Run new task at the top right corner of the screen.
    windows 11 black screen with cursor
  4. Enter explorer.exe in the dialog box and click OK.
  5. Lastly, restart your PC.

2. End Unnecessary Background Processes

Disabling unnecessary apps that start in the background frees up precious RAM and processing power at boot, leaving more resources available for the required tasks. Lowering the background workload can minimize the possibility of hitting resource limits, providing your system with a smoother, more responsive feel.

The following steps can help you complete this solution:

  1. Open the Settings by holding the Windows + I keys simultaneously, click Apps on the left sidebar, and open Startup.
    windows 11 battery settings
  2. Then, turn off unnecessary apps and leave only critical apps active.
  3. Adjust the duration of the settings as desired.
  4. Finally, restart your PC.

3. Disable the Quick Access Functionality

Disabling Quick Access eases its background processes that constantly monitor and update frequently accessed files and folders. This fix reduces the workload on File Explorer’s core functions, potentially enhancing overall responsiveness. Here is how to complete this solution:

  1. First, press the Windows + E keys simultaneously to launch the File Explorer, click the ellipses on the top of the display, and click Options from the context menu.
    Slow Windows 11 File Explorer
  2. Then, select This PC from the Open File Explorer to drop-down menu.
  3. Afterward, uncheck the Show recently used files and Show frequently used folders boxes, and click the Clear button.
    Slow Windows 11 File Explorer
  4. Finally, click the Apply and OK buttons to apply changes.
    Slow Windows 11 File Explorer

When Windows 11 File Explorer is slow to open, disabling Quick Access should do the trick

4. Clear the File Explorer History

Clearing File Explorer History resets accumulated metadata and cached files, simplifying its operations and potentially improving performance. This process involves cleansing search history, recent files, and Quick Access data, reducing the workload on File Explorer’s background processes.

The following steps help to complete this solution:

  1. First, press the Windows + E keys simultaneously to launch the File Explorer, click the ellipses on the top of the display, and click Options from the context menu.
    Slow Windows 11 File Explorer
  2. Then, select This PC from the Open File Explorer to drop-down menu.
  3. Afterwards, click the Clear button in the Privacy section.
  4. Finally, click the Apply and OK buttons to apply changes.
    Slow Windows 11 File Explorer

5. Adjust the Advanced Sharing Settings

Adjusting Advanced Sharing Settings can optimize network resource allocation and streamline File Explorer’s interactions with shared files. Disable unnecessary discovery protocols or adjust caching settings to reduce network overhead and potential conflicts.

Use the following steps to complete this solution:

  1. Press the Windows + I to open Settings, click Network & Internet on the left, and select Advanced Network Settings on the right.
    Slow Windows 11 File Explorer
  2. Then, select the Advanced Sharing Settings option.
    Slow Windows 11 File Explorer
  3. Afterward, set the Network Discovery and File and printer sharing switch On and check the Set up network connected drives automatically box under the Private networks section.

6. Update Windows

Updating Windows can sometimes fix a slow Windows 11 File Explorer. Fresh system files from the update might resolve underlying corruption hindering File Explorer’s operation. So, try downloading and installing the latest Windows updates with the following steps:

  1. Firstly, press the Windows + I key combination to open Settings or do it with the Windows icon on the Taskbar.
  2. Once Settings opens, select the Windows Update option and click the Check for updates button to discover new updates.
    d3dx9_26 dll
  3. Then, follow the on-screen instructions step by step to install the update.
  4. Finally, restart your computer.

7. Run a Malware Scan

Malware can harm your computer by taking over resources, damaging files, and disrupting essential processes. Conduct a comprehensive malware scan with reliable antivirus software to detect and remove malicious elements. This fix will help protect your system and improve file management efficiency.

Run the malware scan as shown below:

  1. Push the Windows + S keys down simultaneously, type Windows Security in the search field, and open the Windows Security application.
  2. When the Windows Security window opens, click the Virus & threat protection option.
    d3dx9_26 dll
  3. Then, click Scan options to see all available scans.
    d3dx9_26 dll
  4. Choose the Full scan option, then click Scan now to do a deep scan on your computer for viruses or malware.

8. Run Windows 11 Disk Check

Disk Check meticulously scans your hard drive, specifying file system errors, bad sectors, and inconsistencies that can create roadblocks for File Explorer, leading to lagging performance.

After performing the Disk Check (chkdsk) scan, upon identifying these errors, Disk Check attempts to repair or isolate them, mending the pathways that File Explorer relies on to access and display your files and folders efficiently.

By removing these underlying barriers, Disk Check can often revitalize File Explorer’s speed and responsiveness, allowing you to browse, search, and manage your files with less lag and frustration as if you’ve paved a smoother digital road for your data journeys.

9. Run a System Restore

System Restore reverts your system to a previous, stable state, potentially reversing problematic changes that could hinder File Explorer’s performance. This process involves restoring system files, registry settings, and drivers to their earlier configurations, undoing recent software conflicts or misconfigurations causing the slowdown.

Perform system restore as shown below:

  1. Press the Windows + S keys simultaneously to open Windows Search, type create a restore point in the search field, and open the associated app.
    System Restore Failing to Recover Windows 11
  2. Then, ensure you are on the System Protection tab and click the System Restore button.
    System Restore Failing to Recover Windows 11
  3. On the next window, click Next to continue.
    System Restore Failing to Recover Windows 11
  4. Then, check the Show more restore points checkbox.
    System Restore Failing to Recover Windows 11
  5. Afterward, select another restore point from the list and click Next.
    System Restore Failing to Recover Windows 11
  6. Finally, thoroughly review the details and click Finish.

In conclusion, these nine powerful fixes helped us cross the technical trenches, unveiling the hidden culprits behind slow or even stuck Windows 11 File Explorer. We’ve tackled resource hogs and even repaired corrupted system files to reclaim a smooth and responsive file management experience.

Remember, the key lies in methodical troubleshooting, identifying the root cause, and applying the targeted solution. With this knowledge, you can confidently navigate your digital landscape, leaving slowdowns and frustrations behind.

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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.