How to Fix: Windows Explorer Not Responding

How to Fix: Windows Explorer Not Responding

/ Shayne Sherman

One of the most important elements of Windows is the File Explorer or commonly known as Windows Explorer. Without Windows Explorer, you cannot navigate through your operating system since it provides the primary user interface for Windows.

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Recently, users have reported an issue with Windows Explorer not responding randomly, and their computer freezes.

If Windows Explorer freezes randomly on your system, an outdated or faulty graphics driver may cause the issue.

However, other factors like corrupted system files, viruses, and applications that eat up your system resources should also be considered when addressing this issue.

Fix #1: Check for Updates

The current Windows version that you are running could have an existing bug or error, which causes the Windows Explorer to crash or freeze. To fix this, try to update Windows, as Microsoft may have released a patch to address the problem.

Step # 1

Open Windows Settings on your computer by pressing the Windows + I keys on your keyboard.

Step # 2

Click on Update & Security.

Update & Security

Step # 3

Click on the Windows Update tab from the side menu and follow the on-screen prompts to install the update on your system.

Windows Update

Fix #2: Clear History

As you use File Explorer over time, it can accumulate temporary files stored on your hard drive. Once these files get large, it would be harder for Windows to load and cause freezing or slow performance on Windows Explorer.

To fix it, try clearing Windows Explorer’s history.

Step # 1

Press on Windows key + S and search for File Explorer Options.

Step # 2

Click on Open to launch File Explorer Options.

File Explorer Options

Step # 3

Click the Clear button under the Privacy tab to clean up Windows Explorer’s history.

Click the Clear button under the Privacy tab

Fix #3: Disable Thumbnails

If you are viewing a folder with a lot of images, it is possible that your system is not able to handle the workload and struggles to load the thumbnails for each photo.

Try to turn off thumbnail previews on Windows Explorer to fix the issue.

Step # 1

Open File Explorer Options on your computer again.

Step # 2

Now, click on the View tab.

Step # 3

Find the “Always show icons, never thumbnails” option, and make sure that it is marked checked. Save the changes and try to use Windows Explorer again.

"Always show icons, never thumbnails" option marked checked

Fix #4: Check for Corrupted System Files

Slow performance on your system could indicate that there is a problem with your system files. If some Windows installation files are corrupted, they cannot function properly, which can cause programs like Windows Explorer to freeze.

Run the System File Checker to fix any errors that may have occurred on your computer.

Step # 1

Press on Windows + R keys on your keyboard to open the Run Command.

Step # 2

Type CMD on the textbox and hit Enter to launch Command Prompt.

Step # 3

On CMD, type sfc /scannow and hit Enter to run System File Checker.

Run System File Checker

Step # 4

After the process, your system will display a message regarding the result of the scan. See the guide below on what these system messages mean.

  • Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations – This means your operating system doesn’t have any corrupted or missing files.
  • Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation – The repair tool detected a problem during the scan and an offline scan is needed
  • Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them – This message will appear when the SFC was able to fix the problem it detected
  • Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them. – If this error occurs, you will need to repair the corrupted files manually. See the guide below.

**Try to run SFC scan two to three times to fix all the errors**

Fix #5: Scan for Viruses and Malware

Virus infiltration is one of the most common culprits for performance-related issues on Windows. Malware and malicious programs eat up your system’s memory, CPU, and storage, which can badly affect Windows’ performance.

If you have a third-party antivirus program, try to run a deep scan on your system to eliminate any virus that may have infected your computer. On the other hand, you can also use Windows Defender and run a full scan of your system.

Fix #6: Reinstall Windows

If none of the methods above worked for you, we suggest that you simply reinstall Windows. Possibly, some of your system files got corrupted and an update can no longer fix it.

Before installing a fresh copy of Windows, make a backup first, as this process will wipe out all the contents of your hard drive. You can also bring your computer to the nearest service center if you do not know how to install Windows.

Ask the service center to make a backup for all your files to prevent file loss.

Shayne Sherman
Meet the author

Shayne is an expert at all things Microsoft Windows and computer security. As a Windows user of over 30 years, he has been featured on Business Insider, Yahoo, Tech Republic, Hacker Noon, Techopedia, and many other publications. He also enjoys spending time with his family, including his English bulldog, Fergie as well as entertaining at his home theater.