I'm at a loss as to why my Windows 10 laptop is consuming so much CPU from explorer.exe instances. I've attached two screenshots showing five explorer instances using about 15% CPU each. I have absolutely no idea what they are doing and if I kill them, nothing happens.

The explorer instances are not always there consuming tons of CPU. I haven't been able to really determine a pattern as to when they start consuming all the CPU. The thing that triggers me to look is when my fan kicks in. Once the cooling fan kicks in I know that the CPU is getting railed by these explorer instances. I'm not sure where to go look for information pertaining to these processes and what resources they might be accessing that causes this.

My CPU usage will go up to 95% with these processes and I'm trying to figure what could be causing it.

I've used Process Explorer to try and get more info. If I explore the threads running on the explorer instances they all seem to have this one thread that is consuming the CPU:


Task Manager Process Explorer Process Explorer Threads

Any help is greatly appreciated.


No viruses detected on any scans. The explorer instances will appear even if I am not looking at any files or folders. As for the type of files and folders I am browsing...? Just regular files. The issue is happening as I'm typing this and I have no folder browsing instances of windows explorer open (the processes are still there of course).

Software open on my computer while it's occurring:

  • Google Chrome
  • Visual Studio 2017
  • Outlook 2013
  • Tableau
  • Paint
  • Task Manager

Upon closing them all (except Task Manager) the processes still persist.

Edit 26-Feb-2019:

I currently have two explorer.exe threads using 15% CPU each. If I look at the disk activity in Resource Monitor I see nothing being used by either.

Windows 10 Build: Version 1809 (OS Build 17763.316)

migrated from serverfault.com Feb 13 at 22:43

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

  • Have you scanned for viruses? What software is running on your computer. What sorts of folders and files are you viewing in File Explorer? Please use the EDIT button to add this any any other relevant information to the body of your question. – music2myear Feb 13 at 23:03
  • @music2myear Edited based on suggestions. – test Feb 14 at 0:48
  • The thread that's causing issues seems to be related to file access not being exclusive (deadlocking). Can you post what files are open under resource monitor -> disk, and files/handles opened by explorer in process explorer? – BlueDrink9 Feb 14 at 3:13
  • What build of windows 10? – Joe Feb 14 at 3:21
  • @BlueDrink9 I'm not really seeing anything in Resource Monitor used by explorer.exe – test Feb 26 at 20:58

From what I can tell, the thing causing this issue was actually the Show all folders navigation pane option in Windows Explorer. If I disable this option, I don't see any obscene CPU usage. If I turn it back on, and open a new Windows Explorer instance, it will immediately start consuming about 15-20% CPU and doesn't seem to stop. Maybe this has to do with the folders that are shown in the navigation, however, I've disabled it for now and will update this answer if anything should change.

Your mileage may vary. This worked for me, I'll attempt to investigate why. If I were to hazard a quick guess, it may be due to Network/Shared Folders.

Show all folders

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.