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Windows Explorer can often take an unexpectedly long time to display its initial screen. There are several common causes of Windows Explorer's delay.

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.

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 inaccessible."

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" time.

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 speed.

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.

Article C2854 - November 26, 2006 « »

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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.

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33 Comments
Ken Crook
December 2, 2006 3:18 AM

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?

Irvin Oberfeld
December 7, 2006 3:48 AM

what is bartshel not responding

Bob
December 7, 2006 12:33 PM

How do I delete porn files and cookies?

rogespeed
December 8, 2006 5:40 AM

I think specifically why does XP take so long to begin an explore compared with win9X ?

Rolin
December 15, 2006 10:37 AM

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

Janis
December 20, 2006 3:00 AM

I have the same problem as Rolin :( How to workaround this?

NetReamer
January 24, 2007 12:48 PM

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;819017

I found I had to disable the Service called "Windows Image Acquisition (WIA)" - it was set to manual. I still don't know what effect that will have on my system (I only just now found this fix), but it makes my drives listing in Explorer super fast again.

Aswin
March 6, 2007 9:25 PM

Hmm. Disabling Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) wont help to speed up. Any other solution?

baranidaran
May 19, 2007 8:04 PM

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

NonWoot
June 15, 2007 11:36 PM

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?

R Anderson
November 30, 2007 12:04 AM

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).

ArchAngelo1979
January 19, 2008 10:06 PM

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.

JohnnyhadaGun
February 19, 2008 8:11 PM

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

Sherry
March 2, 2008 6:31 PM

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.

silly
June 4, 2008 12:02 PM

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

Tom
June 8, 2008 10:11 PM

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.

dunkin
June 18, 2008 10:24 AM

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.

Steve Gardner
August 10, 2008 3:19 PM

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.

Paul
August 11, 2008 12:21 PM

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.

Paul

Bob Petrie
August 15, 2008 5:30 PM

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.
NOT ALWAYS!!
==============================
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)

braider
September 5, 2008 12:25 PM

Same issue here and it was fixed by removing spybot's latest version. Weird. THANKS TO PAUL who posted this fix here.

User
December 7, 2008 7:39 PM

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.

user
December 8, 2008 12:52 PM

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:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/242578

Slugger
April 2, 2009 12:48 PM

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.

PatrickPK
June 4, 2009 6:36 AM

Leo,
Thanks a MILLION for your article; it saved me a MAJOR pain!

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

I followed you advice and was able to identify a network drive which was "dead", upon removing it from the mapped drives: íVOILA!

Robert DiGrazia
December 2, 2009 8:18 AM

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.]

SoloSymphony
December 11, 2009 11:34 PM

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.

Rick
March 13, 2010 10:00 AM

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

John Martin
May 4, 2010 7:37 PM

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

Walt
November 2, 2010 2:38 PM

Where are these "dead" drives listed and how do I remove them?

Carlos R Coquet
July 28, 2011 12:35 AM

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.

Desta Elliott
August 16, 2011 10:44 AM

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?

Lee Lawson
December 8, 2012 8:48 AM

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,

Lee

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