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Why does Windows Explorer take so long to display sometimes?


Why is there such a long delay before Drives & Files appear when double
clicking on “My Computer” in Windows XP?

It started after I had to do a deep cleaning of my PC in terms of spyware
and used several registry cleaners. Everything seems to run fine and smooth
now, but I still have this problem.

This is another of those situations that can actually be caused by many,
many different things.

Fortunately, there are a couple of really common causes, so I’ll look at
those and we can see whether they help you at all.

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When you double click on My Computer it launches Windows
Explorer which then goes off and constructs a summary of all the mass storage
devices on your system, as well as a few other special categories of devices.
(“Mass storage” devices, by the way, are disk drives and things that look like
disk drives.)

Here’s a look at mine:

Leo's 'My Computer'

As part of pulling together that summary, Windows Explorer actually goes out
and queries each device listed for information. For example, in order to
determine that my “C:” drive has 23.2 GB of space left, Windows Explorer
actually checks a few things on the disk. Makes sense, right?

Similarly, in order to determine that drive “F:” is a “Removable Disk” (it’s
a USB thumbdrive) and that it’s labeled “SPINRITE V6” (I have a copy of the
excellent hard disk management tool SpinRite on it), it had to open and actually read the drive.

The most common cause of a delay in opening Windows Explorer is that one or
more of the drives listed have become inaccessible.

For example, I have a persistent network connection on drive “N:” to a
machine at my wife’s business, but as shown in the image above, it’s currently
disconnected. Windows Explorer’s attempts to get information about that drive
will fail. That may add time – the failure may be in the form of a
timeout. Windows Explorer will ask for the information and will wait for some
amount of time for it to come back. When it doesn’t, it labels the drive as
“Disconnected” and moves on.

“The most common cause of a delay in opening Windows
Explorer is that one or more of the drives listed have become

The timeout is typically noticeable, and if you have more than one network
drive in this situation, it can be very noticeable.

The second most common reason for a delay is something called “spin up”

You can’t tell from the display here, but my drive “E:” is an external
Maxtor USB/Firewire hard disk that I use for backing up. Many disks,
particularly external ones like this, will turn off their hard disks after some
period of not being used to save power. The circuitry remains active,
but the hard disk stops spinning. The next time that the drive is accessed for
any reason, that hard disk must be turned on and must start spinning again.
There’s often a noticeable delay until the hard disk reaches its operating

And yes, Windows Explorer’s display can be affected by this delay.

The bottom line is that Windows Explorer is at the mercy of the devices it’s
listing. If any of those devices experience a delay in returning the
information that Windows Explorer is asking for, you’ll notice. Disconnecting
network drives and perhaps unplugging other devices could at least give you a
clue as to which device is contributing to the delay.

Do this

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33 comments on “Why does Windows Explorer take so long to display sometimes?”

  1. Is there any way to control/restrict what Windows Explorer looks at? When opening a picture, does it need to look at the entire computer just to open a picture that I just clicked on?

  2. I am having a similar problem with Windows explorer. When I try to access “My Computer” the window freezes up and the only way out of that is to do Ctrl-Alt-Delete. However, I am able to access any other folder in windows explorer…just not “My Computer” Can you please comment

  3. When i open my computer, it is taking so long to open and in the status bar, the message “vbs.icar0s.3.0.0 notinited” is getting displayed.
    And the java icon is getting displayed in the system tray. Leo, have ever faced this problem? Kindly help.

    Thanks and Regards,
    M. Baranidaran

  4. Same problem here but after uninstalling Creative Zen software (which had a virtual folder in the My Computer list). Now that it’s gone, My Computer or any other virtual folder now takes up to a minute to finally display! help?

  5. Doing this resolved my Explorer speed problem:

    Go to Start > Settings > Control Panel
    Double-click on System
    Click the Hardware tab
    Click the Device Manager button
    In the menu click View > Show Hidden Devices
    In the list of devices, click the plus sign beside “Disk drives” to show the list of drives. Those in bold are active and connected. Those grayed out are inactive (but were at one time connected). Review the grayed out ones to see if any of them are outdated and can be removed (right click and click uninstall to remove them).

  6. I looked and looked for answers on why “MY Computer” file loads at a painstakingly slow rate. I’ve tried everything. To include removing all my downloaded movies, music, and everything else that took hours( if not days) to load. After days of trial, error, restarts, reloads, ETC…. I figured it out on my own. FOLKS, If you are like me I’m sure you may or may not have some sort of “DOWNLOAD ACCELERATOR”. If you do STOP the acceleration process if you are not downloading anything. Your files will run smoothly. I promise.

  7. Before you go changing, deleting or making adjustment to your PC OS, you might want to scan it for virus, spybots etc as it’s seems to me that your explorer is being hijacked.

    You be amazed that Spybot now come into your PC in many ways, shape and size…

    Good luck

  8. When I first open internet explorer it takes about 5 minutes to load my homepage. This is a recent problem. Once it loads it goes from page to page quickly. I have a gateway laptop running windows xp. What could be to problem.

  9. please help me!

    when i open one internet explorer page, everything is alright.

    but when i open a second page it says “no response”, will u please tell me how to work this out?

    many thanks

  10. FYI, I had to stop all the HP services installed with my c7250 printer. Works fine now. Note, I probably didn’t have to stop them all as only one was probably causing the issue, but I didn’t have the patience to experiment and find out.

  11. I had the same problem and disabling WIA did not help. Some poking around revealed the real reason. I had a folder on my desktop with a really deep hierarchy and a LOT of files (200-300). Moving that folder to a different destination fixed it. Anything destination other than the desktop should work. In my case, I moved it to c:\temp. Hope that helps someone.

  12. I found that Windows Explorer was taking 20 seconds or so to open up properly. I found that the problem seemed to be related to the number of drives you had and by going to Tools/Folder Options/Offline files and unchecking the ‘Enable Offline files’ checkbox solved the problem.

  13. I recently experienced significant delays in opening folder contents with W Explorer (WXP Pro, duo core).

    It turns out that an upgrade to Spybot 1.6 caused this. I uninstalled Spybot 1.6 and problem solved. I’ll try installing 1.6 again to see if the issue re-occurs, or else drop back to an older version of Spybot.


  14. Following is a Copy/Paste of an article that solved this problem on my PC:
    NOTE: ALWAYS set a new System Restore point before running Regedit!

    Blank Device Danager and very SLOW windows Explorer Start-up
    Go to Start/Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Services. Scroll down to Plug and Play Service and stop and restart it. Reboot. Once done the Device Manager will populate again.
    Start, Run, Regedit (Enter):
    Check the Permissions of HKey_Local_Machine\System\CurrentControlSet\Enum
    Should have two users:
    Everyone = Read permission
    System = Full
    Navigate to the key using Regedit, Right Click the Enum key and then click Permissions.
    (The last one fixed my problems)

  15. I found that the biggest delay on my system was from a windows “feature” I never use – “My Network Places.” After using my work computer for a year or so, opening windows explorer was taking close to a minute. I tried getting rid of all mapped drives, etc, without any significant decrease, however, after I deleted the shortcuts (69, if I recall correctly) that windows had put in “My Network Places” by default, windows explorer now opens instantly. I’ll be deleting these on a regular basis now.

  16. And to add to the “My Network Places” debacle… Windows automatically searches and adds stuff to this list…

    You can safely delete any of the icons that represent shortcuts to network shares in “My Network Places”, and you can also disable the automatic search for network shares, using the following steps:

    1. Open any system folder (My Computer, My Network Places, or Windows Explorer) and choose Tools, Folder Options, to open the Folder Options dialog.

    2. Click the View tab.

    3. In the Advanced Settings list, click the check box next to Automatically Search for Network Folders and Printers check box to clear the check mark.

    4. Click OK.

    That takes care of the “automatic” ones… to stop it from adding shortcuts for drives you browse to:

  17. I had this same problem on one of my production Windows 2003 servers and resolved it by removing a CD that was left in the CD-ROM drive. The disk was in there so long that it became covered with dust and was unreadable.

  18. I have my Windows Explorer open a folder on startup. It started promptly, but was slow to open the folder. Task manager showed AlbumDB2.exe, FxSvr2.exe, and HVideoS.exe running while Windows Explorer was opening the folder. These are Logitech files for my Labtec webcam.

    Also, Windows Explorer was slow to open the folder My Labtec Pictures in My Computer. I saw AlbumDB2 and FxSvr2 hogging 40% CPU. (Winpatrol also gets its paws in there.)

    After I removed the Labtec software, Windows Explorer opens the folder swiftly.

    I have no idea why the Labtec software is interested in the folder. Maybe it butts in whenever Windows Explorer opens any folder, and I never noticed.

    Rant: Software vendors insist on hiring geeks who don’t understand that their product’s footprint is to be minimized. Keep your grubby icons off my desktop! Stay out of my menus! Don’t run your hoggy software whenever you feel like it! Stay out of the startup list! And stay out of my Registry! And make sure I can stop your program whenever I choose! (Got that, Eset?} And when I uninstall your precious product, vanish! Don’t leave your snivelly files lying around! Are you listening, Adobe, Logitech, Google, Yahoo, and the rest of you? [Ah… I feel better now.]

  19. Rant on Robert, rant on.
    One day I hope to see these big companies realize THEY cause the majority of the headache we users experience (and require sites like this for).
    Take Adobe for example – OMG, how many things get installed in the background is INSANE. If I wanted to network with Bridge, over Adobe Drive, files conforming to Device Central, and somewhere having a use for Extended Script, and viewed in Adobe Media Player …. I would ASK for it and download those things I needed.
    I miss the good ol’ days when Photoshop was a fairly straightforward tool. Open-Edit-SaveAs = Done
    As for slow Opening Explorer; Indeed, I have noticed when saving files from a web-page to something like My Documents/My Pictures when it’s PACKED with tons of pictures (Re: Dunkin’s 200-300 files … a LOT? LOL – I’ve had ‘My Pictures’ many times filled with 15,000-30,000 images :P. I’m also a Photographer; A one week trip to LA left me with 4,000 Photos, and one summer I took over 20,000 Photos) …. moving the mass of files somewhere else definitely made opening the Save boxes in IE and FireFox MUCH faster.

  20. Hi Leo

    Did you ever see WINS problems in the environment cause these delays as the NetBios request is delayed because WINS servers are no longer present, it times out and then goes to DNS for the naem resolution?

    We had to ensure that the DHCPNodeType was set to Broadcast and not Hybrid and then we had to set WINSProxyEnable to 0 vs 2.

    Then there are no more netbios requests floating around since we’ve taken WINS out of our environment

  21. Thanks heaps for this. The dead drive removal solved everything! I have been struggling with a slow computer for months.

  22. Another thing that can hang Windows Explorer for minutes is a drive that contains many or large WinZip files. For example, a backup drive. This happens because WinZip “registers” ZipFldr.DLL and this program goes looking inside all the archive files. It they have thousand of files, clicking on the drive may take a minute or 2 before you see the file lines and trying to do anything before that will cause the “program not responding” message. The solution is to unregister that puppy but then the Zip files will not have the Zip Archive icon.

  23. I have Vista and Explorer is so slow-w-w. Windows Explorer balks at ‘unindexed’ drives, but my attempts to index never seem to ‘take.’ How do I get an Index that Windows Explorer will recognize? Since upgrading to 2010, I can’t even do a search in a folder. ???
    I hate the Vista Search…is there a way to get an XP look & feel?
    It’s been 30 years, and still explorer does not have a way to add a file description. I know file names can be long, but its not that hard to get to a path too error message with descriptive names.
    Is there any other software solution that beefs up Windows Explorer?

  24. Hello,

    I just had viruses removed that almost took out my computer. It now takes forever for my home page which is yahoo to open using i.e..however it opens instantly when going to with say google or firefox. I really do not quite understand what the the above way to fix is saying.
    Kind Regards,


  25. I never had this problem with Win XP or Win 7. It’s only since I downgraded to 10 that I have these problems, I say downgraded since, I have had more problems with Win 10 in the short time I have had it than all the years I used Win XP or the years I had Win 7 after it. IMO, it’s a total pile of garbage and if it’s the best M$ can do now, I’m going over to Linux.


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