Normally whenever I repair a PC I tell the customer that they should limit the amount shortcuts or folders or files that they place on the desktop to speed up performance (it also really annoys me with all the clutter). I just discovered, as many of you may have, the wonderful free program fences that organizes your desktop folders and shortcuts into categories and looks really cool. My question is, will this really slow down the PC?

My Build (but I'm also interested as a general rule of thumb as well)

EVGA P55 LE motherboard

Intel Core i5 Processor

Geforce 9500GT GPU

6 GB OCZ Ram

Windows 7

closed as not constructive by James Mertz, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Brad Patton, Gaff, Dave M Apr 7 '13 at 17:03

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  • I would say generally no, but it seems if a computer has little dedicated video RAM and the system RAM is highly utilized and you minimize a window, Windows has to repaint the background wallpaper and icons. During the repaint, the system is busy and doesn’t respond well. If there was no wallpaper (i.e. a solid color not an image) and few icons on the desktop the system does become usable faster. That said, Windows still needs to repaint the screen, but if you don’t see it paint the screen, then I would say no. – Scott McClenning Sep 2 '10 at 6:17

Right now i'm working on linux, but i had fences installed in my home system.

Having a lot of icons does not slow down your system per se, because the worst case scenario is each icon occupying a few kb of the memory. But it slows down operations like refresh because each time you refresh, the icon cache is rebuilt and all the icons are re-rendered. Another aspect is that of icon arrangement. If you have it automatically done by windows, its the quickest. But if you don't align it to grids and prefer choosing your own placement, it takes up some more memory, that could potentially slow things a bit.

I think another reason for the slow down would be the fact that every time you access the desktop [like closing a window, or minimizing everything], Windows has to redraw all the icons.

Oh and, if you have anything more than 1GB of RAM, this is a complete non-issue! :)

  • 2
    I was going to say...don't tell customers that they shouldn't have items on their desktop. Tell them they need more RAM!! If icons are slowing them down, I think it's time for a new computer or a RAM upgrade... – Thomas B. Sep 2 '10 at 5:13


Desktop icons use only a minute amount of system resources. Your system was designed to allow you to use desktop icons without it having any major effect on the system. If it were a problem then the system wouldn't have been designed that way.

This issue is nothing more than another dose of popular hype that gets spread around the Internet and taken seriously only because it's repeated so often.

"A lie told often enough becomes the truth" - Lenin

If you have a slow computer it may be because you have too many programs launched and running in the background. This is most often caused by having too many programs set to launch when you boot your system up. All that does is make the programs start up a little bit faster when you want to use it, but it isn't all that much faster to make a great difference (a matter of seconds is all), so having those running in the background when not in use is just a waste of system resources.

See here for more information,


There are also other things that can be slowing your system down. Desktop icons are the very least of anyone's worries in this respect.


Since it is another application running on your desktop, will it technically slow down the PC? Yes.. will it be super noticable on your setup? No not likely.

A desktop background most likely eats more memory and system resources than Fences.

I wouldn't worry about it unless its something noticeable, for me it is smooth like butter, and no harm no foul.


Despite the information in this article, and given the horsepower you've got, I don't see it making a measurable difference. I wouldn't worry about it. Even if it slows the system down a bit, what you sacrifice in usability (for your particular work style) isn't worth the trade-off.

Personally, I use a desktop manager called DeskSpace and have six (6) separate desktops. I have about 100 icons and folders between them. Each 'desktop' has a different focus.

  • Sounds similar to the ubuntu multi-desktop setup – James Mertz Sep 2 '10 at 5:22
  • @Kronos - That's a Gnome feature and isn't Ubuntu specific. – MDMarra Sep 2 '10 at 6:43
  • @Kronos (and MarkM) ... and KDE, XFCE, OSX and every desktop I've used with the exception of Windows. – Neal Sep 2 '10 at 9:13
  • @Neal - Right, I was referring to the specific implementation that he was referring to. – MDMarra Sep 2 '10 at 11:51
  • I thought so, but I've only used ubuntu so didn't want to put down incorrect info. – James Mertz Sep 2 '10 at 13:04

You should tell your customers to add shortcuts in their right click menu or cascading Menu in the right click menu. It don't slowdown pc since it doesn't require to rebuild icon cache on refresh. You can accomplish this with freeware called Right Click Enhancer. It allows you to take total control of your right click. It also have portable version so when your customer experience slow down because of lots of icons then take right click enhancer on your flash drive and move shortcuts to right click cascading menus. It works like folders in right click menu.

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