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Is it possible to prevent thumbnails from being generated on a specific disk drive?

This would be useful for several reasons, one being performance (on optical drives), the other privacy (some information shouldn't be cached forever in an obscure location, e.g. scans of bank statements).

I know there's an option to turn off all thumbnail generation, but that is an overkill.

share|improve this question
Not in front of my PC right now but can't you just tell the folder to not display thumbnails. Good point on the bank statements and the link with Vista/Win7 storing images at 1024 now you can get a nice clear look at everything. – user10547 Sep 11 '09 at 2:05
@tronpxs It's possible to change the folder view. However, I'm not sure it actually prevents thumbnails from being generated or data from being indexed. Besides, by the time I switch the view, some of the thumbs may have already been generated. – dbkk101 Sep 11 '09 at 3:03
You can set the folder properties but ya that's just one solution. What are you worried will be indexed off the images? – user10547 Sep 11 '09 at 4:53

In Vista you can tell it you don't want it to view a folder as images. Right click on a folder and select properties, then go to the "Customize" tab and change the selection to "All Files" and check the "Also apply this template to subfolders". After applying the default view for that folder will change to the Detailed View which ignores pictures but if you go into a folder and change the view to an icon view you will see the images again. It looks like this customize tab is available for drives as well so you can reset the view on a per-drive basis. This should help so long as you don't mind the Detailed View style.

In order to prevent the thumbnails from being cached I found the this, it is a dirty solution that by the sounds of it applies to Vista and Windows 7 as they store files in a specific place. It will prevent the creation of the thumbnail cache files, but still be able to view folders as thumnails.

Taken from Here

  1. First, turn off thumbnail creation by opening Windows Explorer, clicking the Organize button and selecting Folder and Search Options. Click on the View tab and check Always show icons, never thumbnails. Click the OK button.
  2. Then, run Disk Cleanup on Drive C: and empty the cache so you can recover the disk space. You can find it in Accessories/System Tools.
  3. In Windows Explorer, navigate to the AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows folder under your name. If you can't find it, just copy the following: %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows Paste it into the Address Bar and hit Enter.
  4. Right-Click on the Explorer folder and select Properties.
  5. Select the Security tab.
  6. Click the Advanced button.
  7. On the Permissions tab, click the Edit button.
  8. Uncheck Include inheritable permissions from this object's parent.
  9. Click the Remove button in the Windows Security box that pops up.
  10. Click the OK button on the Permissions Tab.
  11. Click the Yes button in the Windows Security box that pops up.
  12. Close all the open boxes.
  13. Go back into the Folder and Search Options and uncheck the Always show icons, never thumbnails and you're done.
share|improve this answer
Good suggestion. This seems to be a good way to globally allow showing the thumbnails but prevent caching them. Ideally, I'd want to disable caching thumbnails for some locations, but leave it on for others. Not sure if that is possible at all. – dbkk101 Dec 5 '09 at 16:29
I've had a look around and while it would bu useful to be able to prevent thumbnail in aprticular places it seems they are an all-or-nothing affair. You can disable them entirely and gain some performance, or keep them and restrict the directories to views which don't create thumbnails such as the Detailed View. I'm surprised there isn't another way around it... – Mokubai Dec 5 '09 at 20:49
+1 this just helped me out with an important project - thanks! – Nathan Osman Apr 19 '10 at 8:13

It's not the solution you're looking for but quite useful:

with Thumbnail Switcher you can easily enable/disable thumbnail preview for all file types registered for thumbnail preview.

alt text

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If it isn't the solution it should be posted as a comment. – th3dude Sep 25 '09 at 19:46
it IS a solution. maybe not exactly what the OP is asking for, but a solution nevertheless, so relax. – Molly7244 Sep 25 '09 at 19:50
+1 because it's the best answer here, and certainly not deserving of the downvote – Phoshi Dec 2 '09 at 11:21

This is a horrible solution (but it does work), however it needs to be done on a per folder basis.

Go to the drive and create a file called thumbs.db (in notepad or anything), then change the permissions on the file for everyone (including SYSTEM) to deny all.

Obviously this will not work on FAT32 drive... not sure if you can create a corrupted thumbs.db or if that will make explorer crash or just recreate, however again, the above is the only way I think it is possible.

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Starting with Vista, thumbnails are centralized and are no longer in each directory. – harrymc Oct 2 '09 at 12:50

You could setup the disk cleanup utility on as a scheduled task (daily, hourly) for that drive, which will remove thumbnails by default.

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It's not just the privacy issue, but also performance. – John T Oct 1 '09 at 12:44

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