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In folder options -> view, there's an option that's off by default called "Launch folder windows in a separate process". I'm on windows-7, but I know this capability has existed since at least windows xp.

When is it advantageous to do this? When does this option improve performance? Are there any other considerations to take into account before using this option?

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See addictivetips.com/windows-tips/… which summarizes: "So why is this option not enabled by default? Because it has many side effects and should not be used on systems with less than 4GB RAM (since it takes slightly more memory). Also it can confuse Explorer extensions when they find there are more than one instance of them running." –  Alan Aug 2 '12 at 21:14

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the main reason i would suggest turning this on is so that if you have a folder window open which stops responding and you kill the task, it won't/shouldn't take the main explorer.exe with it (meaning your desktop won't be inaccessible for a few moments while windows restarts it).

I am unsure what advantage there would be to not having it enabled other than not using as much memory.

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I know this is a pretty old post, but I ran into it during a search so figured others might as well.

One other reason to do this is to allow running Explorer.EXE as a different user than the one currently logged in. Be aware though, this has the potential to use more resources on your system.

Check this blog post for more detail.

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See this article for turning this option on or off:
Vista - Open a Folder in the Same or Separate New Window.

Getting this option to actually work is a non-trivial exercise. For example, one cannot use "Always Open the Folder in its Own Separate New Window" if one doesn't turn off the Navigation Pane.

You should only use this option if you like having lots of folder windows being launched whenever you move between folders. I suppose that it is good for target-practicing on the close-button, or whatever.

This is one of the most useless options in Windows, designed apparently to prevent you from looking at too many folders without a really good reason.

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