I have 2 disks of 1 TB each. In that machine, Windows Explorer takes a lot of memory, and it's slow refreshing the icons of the files. Is there anything I can do to tune the performance of Windows Explorer?
I found that installing/removing a lot of things into explorer (i.e. things that show up in the right click) can both slow and destabilize explorer.exe.
Also, I found Explorer doesn't release memory well after large operations. For example, I used to copy large files (or large number of files) using Explorer, but now I use Robocopy. I think that help Explorer be more responsive and prevent memory leaks.
Lastly, I found if I can't get rid of some explorer problems, I try to contain the problem by enabling "Launch folder windows in a separate process" in Explorer's Tools | Folder Options | View tab. This will make the Windows desktop and task bar at the bottom on one process and each Explorer window opened on a new process. That way, for me, problems don't have a long living process to build up in because closing those Explorer windows usually clears many problems. This isn't bullet proof, but it has helped me. The other thing that helps is not allowing every program that wants to install something in my right click to do so. I only install essential program or programs that I know are well behaved.
I hope these tips help you.
There are many "filters" (plugins) in the Explorer process.
e.g. document property filters, word preview filters, anti-virus, CVS / Subversion, drag-and-drop, zip.....etc
When more and more application installed, you might get more filters processing when you open your explorer.
You may use Sysinternal's Process Monitor to find which dll/feature make it slow, and then use the Sysinternal's Autoruns to disable them.
if you have a lot of files and you put them all in one big folder, then you will not only run in speed issues with the file system itself but also with file managers which have to create icons and additional info for all the files in the folder (thats true for unix as well as for windows btw).
so (just a wild guess about your current .. file situation :)), try to spread and distribute the files into folders and subfolders up to a certain degree and your windows explorer should become noticeably faster.
(real life: a converter tool i wrote created 100k files in one directory, windows explorer almost died)