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File Explorer on my Windows 11 machine is somehow slow when I try to:

  • Navigate between folders
  • Create new files/folders

It takes somehow 5+ seconds in order to respond to any action.


Notes

  • I think there's no problem in my storage drive (pretty new internal SSD storage, with SATA connection). Also, when I navigate or create new files/folders on VSCode's File Explorer, it responds instantly with no slowness problems seen in File Explorer.

  • I'm currently using the latest Windows 11 version 22000.593 (released 2022-03-28) with no new available updates not installed yet.

  • I have my Windows 11 installed as a fresh copy (not an upgrade) for 4 months now.

  • In full-screen (by pressing F11), lag in displaying files/folders while navigating is magically ~none. The only lag (in full-screen) is when naming files/folders, it takes ~3 seconds after I hit Enter to set a new name for a file/folder and be able to use File explorer in other tasks again (because it become ~ freezing during these 3 seconds). When I exit full-screen, lag comes again and becomes noticeable. (Thanks to harrymc for this note)

  • There's less noticeable lag for short time after boot (however lag exists), and become more severe after using computer for some time. Also, I have enough memory, 32GB and is 50% used most of the time.


Things I tried with no help to fix the problem:

  • Disabled Show recently used files in Quick access and Show frequently used folders in Quick access and cleared File Explorer History. (Screenshot)
  • Disable many third-party shell extensions using ShellExView
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  • Questions: (1) Is Windows 11 fully updated? (2) Does pressing F11 for it to go full-screen fix the lag? Another F11 will undo this, but is then Explorer suddenly faster? (3) Does this happen only after using the computer for some time, or immediately after the boot?
    – harrymc
    Apr 11, 2022 at 19:56
  • @harrymc (1) I'm using latest release with no new updates to install, if I got what you meant by "fully updated" right. (2) Yes, in full-screen, lag in displaying files/folders while navigating is magically ~none, the only lag (in full-screen) is when naming files/folders it takes ~3 seconds after I hit Enter to set name of file/folder. When I exit full-screen, lag comes again. (3) There's a less noticeable lag for some short time after boot (however lag exists), and become more severe after using computer for some time. Also, I have enough memory, 32GB and is 50% used most of the time.
    – Omar
    Apr 11, 2022 at 20:14

1 Answer 1

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You are experiencing a known bug in the new user interface of Windows 11. The new Command bar in Explorer is leaking memory furiously and causes explorer to slow down progressively as time passes and more memory is lost.

The test for this is to use Explorer in full-screen mode by pressing F11. This will return the interface to classical Windows 10, and will especially remove the Command bar and liberate its memory. If the lag is gone in full-screen mode, then you are a victim of this memory leak bug.

A temporary solution is to restart Explorer therefore returning to the situation as after you booted. See the article How to Restart explorer.exe Process in Windows 10.

A better solution might be to use an Explorer alternative. For a plethora of choices see the article 14 Alternative File Managers To Replace Windows 10 File Explorer. My personal favourite is Altap Salamander, but this is a matter of personal taste.

In the meantime, keep Windows fully updated. This bug is not new but Microsoft has not yet fully fixed it, although some improvements were done. Microsoft might in the future finally get it right...

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