I have a problem with my computer: I'm using Windows 7 x64, and when I try to acces the Downloads folder, it takes a long time. After waiting for half a minute or more, I can open it, see the contents, copy and move files, etc.

And now, when I open Firefox and I click on the new tab button, it also freezes for a couple of minutes.

Is the hard disk failing? I haven't tried formating the hard disk (lots of information inside), but chkdsk doesn't notice any problem... Should I buy another hard disk inmediatly and reinstall the OS?

  • 1
    Regarding Downloads folder. Does it contain 1000s of file in folder root? try moving the files to a subfolder of downloads folder
    – AEonAX
    Nov 3, 2014 at 8:06
  • @AEonAX: No, Downloads foled contains 20-30 files and 15-20 folders...
    – mHouses
    Nov 3, 2014 at 8:10
  • 1
    To know more about status of your hard disk, you can check the SMART status and run a self test. To do this you can use for example almico.com/speedfan.php or sourceforge.net/projects/smartmontools Nov 3, 2014 at 8:53
  • 3
    Do you have backups of your important files? If not, consider making one now. You can thank me later.
    – user
    Nov 3, 2014 at 9:48
  • 1
    @MichaelKjörling: the realy important files are in a github account, so there's no problem with the files.
    – mHouses
    Nov 3, 2014 at 10:05

6 Answers 6


I don't have a necessary reputation to comment so I'll answer here with my personal experience. I had the same problem, but not just with the Downloads folder. Any action in the operating system was slow. I enabled the S.M.A.R.T diagnostics in the BIOS and it said at boot time that the disk was dying.

Also, what you can do is run a live linux distribution and check your hard drive with specific tools, such as smartmontools. I did it and it confirmed what BIOS said, i.e. that the disk was close to death.

  • I'm sorry, but I haven't enough reputation to upvote you. But I like this answer. This afternoon, when I arrive at home, I'll test the harddrive using Ubuntu...
    – mHouses
    Nov 3, 2014 at 8:27
  • 9
    It's a shame that windows doesn't report S.M.A.R.T. errors. I had exactly the same problem with a Windows PC. After booting Ubuntu it immediately said that the hard disk may be failing soon. Nov 3, 2014 at 13:07
  • 1
    @sanchises True, but the problem is that when everything is slow (and I mean reeeaaalllyy sloooooow) you cannot work normally directly in the operating system installed on the broken hard drive. Just to make an example, when I clicked on the start button it took like 2 minutes to open the start menu. This is where a live distribution comes in handy. But this was just my personal experience. Your comment is however perfectly correct :)
    – MSX
    Nov 3, 2014 at 13:17
  • 2
    Before buying you can always try the old often-miracolous method of reinstalling Windows.
    – MSX
    Nov 3, 2014 at 18:21
  • 1
    Also, the old Game-Boy trick: try disconnecting, cleaning and reconnecting the hard drive.
    – Sanchises
    Nov 3, 2014 at 21:11

You should NOT check for filesystem corruption first (i.e. using chkdsk), especially if the hard drive is failing, it could only make it fail faster.

The first thing to do, is to run a livesystem (CDRom, USB key), (you can also test the disk on another computer if you feel at ease with handling disks) then you can proceed to :

  • A) Identify the problem

    using sudo gnome-disks (see https://askubuntu.com/questions/283559/how-can-i-run-disk-utility-in-terminal-via-a-comand-line)

    • 1- check disk SMART status (should be a green status), if it is failing, jump to B) backup the data
    • 2- run a disk self SMART test (click on fast self test), if it is failing, jump to B) backup the data
    • 3- run a disk read performance test (**), if the performance is abnormal, jump to B) backup the data
    • 4- check kernel error messages (command dmesg) : if there are KEY SENSE errors, jump to B) backup the data

If all the tests are successful, the physical disk is not the culprit, it is probably just a "normal" windows problem.

(**) It is a good professional practice to benchmark your new disks, and save the test results, in order to be able to compare the performance later.

  • B) Backup the data

Using the live system, connect a spare usb key or other disk, then you can make an exact disk-to-disk copy using dd_rescue (https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/80370/how-to-clone-a-ntfs-partition-winxp-from-a-damaged-disk-to-a-new-one), or a disk-to-image using ddrescue (Recovering data from failing hard-drive using ddrescue).

If you have no spare disk, power-down everything, and go buy a new disk (optionally with a larger size).

In any case, don't be optimistic about a failing hard drive (i.e. what if I re-format ?) : if there are smart errors, do not use it.


How many, and how large, are the files in your Downloads folder? Opening that folder triggers your anti-virus software to scan ALL the items in the folder, especially if your "view" of the folder is showing "icons" or "tiles". Change to "list" or "details" view to avoid the virus-scan.

Google-search for 'DOWNLOAD SPECCY' and download the FREE version from the PIRIFORM web-site (not from any other "hits"). Run it, to display the detailed 'SMART' statistics for your disk-drive.

  • This is a screenshot of the output of speccy: imgur.com/H4wVEPP
    – mHouses
    Nov 3, 2014 at 18:15
  • And the downloads folder has 87 files, and some of them are huge (one is a virtual box hard disk, some ubuntu iso images...). BUT the view mode of this folder is the "detailed view" (I don't know the name in English, but only appear the filename, size, filetype and download date)
    – mHouses
    Nov 3, 2014 at 18:18
  • Seems fine to me.
    – MSX
    Nov 3, 2014 at 18:22
  • Maybe the file system is corrupted. Did you check that?
    – MSX
    Nov 3, 2014 at 18:24
  • By the way, if my answer didn't solve your problem you should deselect it from being the best answer.
    – MSX
    Nov 3, 2014 at 18:29

It could be that you have a Share or link to a network location somewhere that Windows can't reach for some reason. It will try and after a while time out. That would be your delay.

Try to read your Downloads folder via Dos. Open a DOS box with Windows-R, type "cmd" In the dos box type: "dir Downloads /s"

If your Download folder is read instantly and at high speed now, then your disk is OK and you probably have network timeouts.

Check your Desktop and file explorer (Win-E) to see if you can find network connections. Disable them.

  • It sounds like its a local hard drive from OP's question. Nov 3, 2014 at 21:48
  • @durandal: Too late, I've reinstalled the computer, and now I'm updating Windows 7... It takes forever! :P
    – mHouses
    Nov 3, 2014 at 23:57
  • @mHouses news? Did reinstalling help?
    – MSX
    Nov 5, 2014 at 11:17
  • @MSX Yes, at the moment the system is working correctly. Sometimes is slow, but it's because there are lots of updates to install...
    – mHouses
    Nov 5, 2014 at 11:20

I have this issue. It is due to Windows 7 processing all of the files in your download folder for the media info.

In your downloads folder, you are likely to have lots of images, mp3 files, video clips and other items. Windows is opening all of those files to get the resolution and size information for the pictures, the size and bit rate for the video clips for the movies, and the MP3INFO for the mp3 files. IIRC, the MP3INFO is at the end of the file, so that requires that you seek to end of each file to get this information. Windows will also cache the image information, but each time the folder gets updated (each time you do another download), it must re-scan the folder looking for what changed.

Note, the details mode collects lots of information that it doesn't show, so if switching to that mode doesn't speed things up as compared to the icon mode, that is likely your problem.

I have a high end system with a fast SSD and see this problem. I also have hundreds of files taking gigs of disk. On another system that has a slower drive, only dozens of files, and almost no media files, opening the downloads folder happens without any delay.


Recently I met the same trouble, I bought Gateway in 2012, and it never quickly works. Couple weeks, it become slower, almost I couldn't stand the speed. Take 1-2 mins to open files(folders) or save them, it always freezes when running the applications.

Couple months ago, i have re-installed windows system, it still doesn't work. Then I ask for our company Tech support.

  1. The memory chip of 2G is too small for 64 bits windows 7.

Solution: add 4G memory chip

  1. A small place maybe one sector on disk is broken

Solution: change a new disk or separate the broken sector.

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