Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Your desktop is really just another directory in your computer. It's more a matter of organization than speed.

Does storing files (for example, Word files) directly to my Windows 7 desktop as opposed to storing the files in the Documents folder and creating shortcuts as desired on my desktop, slow the computer's performance? I'm getting conflicting opinions on this matter. Thanks for any guidance you can give me.

In this excerpt from Answercast #8, I discuss using the desktop as a storage for documents and icons, and give my preference.

Desktop and computer speed

No, it doesn't really have any performance impact at all. Certainly not with respect to accessing the documents. It's more of an organizational thing: do you put documents on your desktop or do you put shortcuts to documents that actually live somewhere else on your computer?

Graphics speed

The only thing that comes to mind is that if you have a desktop that has lots and lots of icons (be they for documents or shortcuts to documents), then it's going to take longer for the desktop to redraw: but it doesn't make any difference whether you're using documents or shortcuts to documents for that.


That's one of the reasons I personally tend to keep a very clean desktop with just a couple of icons on it. I tend to throw things into menus, either off my Start menu or off custom menus.

But, the short answer to your question is no. I can't see how it can make any noticeable difference whatsoever.

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Article C5194 - April 11, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

April 13, 2012 12:58 PM

Yep - it may be a little handier to get to. When I am working on a project, I keep some of the docs on my desktop or in a folder on my desktop, but when I finish, I move them off to get rid of the clutter. Just like with kitchen cupboards. You don't put a plate in all of them, and food in all of them, you have different shelves for different types of foods and other items. Makes it much easier to find. If you dump everything on your screen (or screens), it can get very hard to find things - but that slows 'you' down - not your computer.

April 13, 2012 4:44 PM

I have always wondered about this subject, And it has led me to conclude that "there is a place for everything and everything in it's place", Call me fanatical if you like but a tidy file system is just so much easier to find things when you want them, The only time i leave a file on my desktop is if i want to be alerted to it when i next turn on my pc.

April 13, 2012 7:49 PM

Yes indeedy, a place for everything and everything in it's place.
Folders are damned handy and a Godsend.
Just label them right and you're on top of it all.
I currently have 8 icons on my desktop and 5 are folders.

Gordon Ellis
April 16, 2012 3:44 AM

There is one situation where I believe placing large files on your desktop can slow it down. If you are using a work computer that is not dedicated to you, then your network may be configured to synchronise files and shortcuts on your desk top, wherever you login. Particularly if you have low bandwidth this can cause a considerable delay on start up.

Lakshmi Sevukamoorthy
August 6, 2012 9:43 PM

When I store anything on my desktop it gets stored as two say any folder I create it gets created as two folders whats the remedy

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