When I use Windows Explorer, or a File Open dialog in an application, I like to have the Navigation (folder) pane visible, showing the current folder in the tree.

However, I find this is slowing things down excessively - sometimes merely expanding a drive folder takes 10 seconds, during which time the explorer window, or app using the file open dialog, shows as "Not responding".

I have been fiddling with the way the navigation pane is displayed, to try to speed things up - I have unticked "Show all folders", removed everything from my quick access list and set "Always show icons, never thumbnails" in the folder view options. This helped a bit (file open could take 30 seconds not responding before I made those changes).

I have Tortoise Git installed, but surely that should not hang the system for so long?

3 Answers 3


There is no single bullet to solve the 'slowness' problem. I have navigation pane open all the time but don't encounter slowness like what you get. But I have a theory:

Open task manager and see the problem when explorer get not responding. Most of the time you'll deal with CPU/Disk usage spiking (i.e. near 100% usage).

If other software's CPU/Disk spikes (most likely if you have antivirus) try to turn it off.

If explorer Disk spiked, try to run chkdsk.

If explorer CPU spiked, could be a malware?

I recommend to try restart windows as safe mode as well.


If you started having this issue after installing TortoiseGit or another tool that has a shell extension, you may want to disable it first. In the case of TortoiseGit, its overlay icons can only be calculated after scanning the subdirectory to see if it contains a .git folder and then parsing its contents, which would naturally be slow on some explorer tree items like network shares. TortoiseGit tries to avoid the issue by only scanning what it believes to be 'fixed' drives, as seen in the Settings dialog. You can also configure this to set up specific exclusions.

TortoiseGit settings

You can also look into Autoruns to determine what other shell extensions are installed on your machine, and try disabling them as a process of elimination. In this example, I searched specifically for TortoiseGit, but you can switch to the Explorer tab to see all registered shell extensions.



Another option involves preventing explorer from reading contents of files such as video files. The following answer is from Deason Wu on https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/26147306-64c5-466d-a211-5a6a5f012575/why-is-windows-10-file-explorer-is-unaccepably-slow?forum=win10itproapps

In my case, it provided improvement on directories with many video files.

Wu's answer:

I think this is due to the indexing and 'optimizations' happening in the background. Your folder most probably has large video files and the system scans and stores the video attributes every time you open the folder.

  1. In File Explorer, right-click on the folder that you want to speed up. This will open the Folder Properties window.

  2. In the Folder Properties window, click on the Customize tab.

  3. In the 'Optimize this folder for:', select 'General items'. You can tick the 'Also apply this template to all subfolders' if you want.

  4. Click on the OK button.

  • OP has already disabled thumbnail preview. There would be no more video decoding to generate preview which slow thing down. IMO this answer is too generic to be useful.
    – guest
    May 4, 2018 at 21:24
  • Not sure where you get the idea that I say something is either lazy or jit; explorer must first get contents of the dir, then recursively get contents of all dirs in that dir to determine whether they contain a dir to fill in that box. This is unrelated to NTFS itself, but rather to what explorer is doing. NTFS is as I understand it optimized for finding a single file or dir based on an attribute, usually the filename. That doesn't help when you need to find all files in a directory; it only helps in finding the place on disk where the directory record itself is located.
    – pbpb
    May 5, 2018 at 19:48
  • 1
    Regarding the thumbnail preview and "customizing" for "general items," in my case thumbnail preview is disabled, yet explorer takes forever to list large video directories, until the "optimization" is set to "general." The thumbnail preview and the "video optimization" appear to be orthogonal, although that is surprising.
    – pbpb
    May 5, 2018 at 19:53

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