On older machines, and even sometimes on not-so-old machines, Windows Explorer can get sluggish, and painful to use. It may happen suddenly and it may be happening all the time. In either case, here’s how to fix it when Windows Explorer gets slow.
The fix when Windows Explorer is slow all the time
If Windows Explorer is slow all the time,showing the hourglass after you do something simple like renaming a file, try this first.
Try navigating to the parent folder, then right-clicking on your folder and picking Properties. Under the tab marked Customize, look at the top option labeled Optimize this folder for and make sure the option General Items is checked. You’ll probably want to check the box labeled Apply this template to all subfolders.
Give it a minute to work, and this will usually help.
Also, clicking on View and switching to the small icons, list, or details view tends to be faster than the large or extra large icons view.
The fix when Windows Explorer gets slow all of a sudden
I’ve also run into issues where Windows Explorer just suddenly got super slow. I finally figured out it happens after I extract a large Zip file from the Explorer interface. Even after the extraction is complete, Windows Explorer seems to treat the extracted folder like a Zip folder.
When this happens, closing all Explorer windows and then reopening them usually restores the usual speed. Especially when my first trick doesn’t help at all.
Rebooting would also work, but I find closing all Explorer windows is sufficient to clear the overhead from memory. A full reboot is usually overkill in this case.