A Tip From Kinetic Computer Services ...

Windows Explorer has become very slow on a system that has no other problems

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Description of the Problem

Windows Explorer, or simply "Explorer," has become very sluggish. Certain operations that used to be instantaneous now take several seconds, or even up to a minute, to complete, and sometimes they do not complete at all. You see an hourglass (Windows 98), or a spinning disc and a light green bar at the top of the Explorer window (Windows 7). Examples of operations where you experience these problems include:

  • Opening "My Computer" or "Computer"
  • Browsing drives and folders
  • Changing the sort column of a folder
  • Right-clicking on a drive, folder, or file

You are not experiencing similar problems with the rest of your computer. You can open and save files without any problems in applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel. Your computer boots and shuts down normally, and your internet connectivity is normal. You do not have a slow computer in general; only Windows Explorer is slow.

Note that this tip is for the Explorer utility used to browse drives and folders on your computer and local area network. This is different from Internet Explorer, which is used to surf the web.


There are countless reasons why a computer might be slow. If a computer is running Microsoft Windows and the only thing about it that is slow is Windows Explorer, that usually indicates a problem with an external, removable, or network drive. This problematic drive is liable to substantially slow down Explorer even when you are only accessing local fixed drives.


Check for external, removable, or network drives that may not be working correctly or that you are not using. These include:

  • Network drives - Disconnect any network drives you are not using or that are not working correctly. Look especially for network drives that show a red X icon and disconnect those.
  • Removable drives - Disconnect any USB drives ("flash drives") from your computer and any USB devices that have storage, such as smart phones, music players, and cameras. Also eject all removable media - CD, DVD, SD card, etc.
  • External drives - Confirm that any external drives attached to your system are working correctly.

If necessary, disconnect all network and external drives and disconnect or eject all removable media so that you are left with only the internal drives that are built into your computer. Confirm that that the problem with Windows Explorer is fixed, then begin reconnecting your external, network, and removable drives one at a time until you discover the one causing the problem.

David Carson
Posted on April 14, 2015
© Copyright Kinetic Computer Services

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This tip is a free service of Kinetic Computer Services - professional network consultants serving the Houston area since 1998.

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