How to Fix Windows Explorer Not Responding in Windows 10

Windows File Explorer is an integral part of Windows. With this explorer, you can view all your files and folders, perform simple operations such as copy and paste, control file size and manage files. However, sometimes Windows File Explorer tends to freeze and slow down.

Although a simple restart of the PC or laptop usually fixes the problem, this is not a guaranteed fix. However, if you’re stuck with your Windows 10 PC’s file explorer not responding, we’ve compiled a few fixes to fix the issue.

Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Restart Windows Explorer

One of the first things you can do is restart Explorer. If it’s a simple corrupt cache file issue, it’s likely to fix your issue.

Open Task Manager to restart File Explorer; Under Processes you will see Windows Explorer.

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Right click on it and choose Restart from the menu.

2. Check for Updates

Windows Updates are a necessary part of the system as they bring essential security updates. But if you have long pending updates, you may find that your system slows down or behaves strangely. This is especially true if Windows is doing memory-intensive tasks.

These days, it’s pretty easy to spot a pending update. If you see a small orange dot in your system’s taskbar, you know what to do.

Alternatively, you can search for ‘Check for updates’ in the Start menu to see pending updates.

3. Clear File Explorer History

Explorer’s search works most of the time. It records every detail, such as the names of the files you searched for, the paths you searched for, among others. These search files can accumulate over time and cause Windows File Explorer to respond slowly. Fortunately, clearing the history is as easy as 1-2-3.

Search for anything in Explorer’s search box to get started. Once the search is complete, click on the small arrow icon as shown below to expand the ribbon.

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Next, click the Search tab and select Recents > Clear Search History.

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The above will only work when your system’s Explorer is running to some extent. But if it is frozen, you have to go through Settings.

Open settings (Win key + I) and search for ‘File Explorer Options’. This will open a small window.

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Now click on the Clear button under Privacy to clear the Windows Explorer history.

4. Run Disk Cleanup

If the above fixes failed to run Windows Explorer, you may want to run Disk Cleanup. As the name suggests, it gets rid of temporary files and folders contaminating your computer.

Search for Disk Cleanup to reclaim space. Select the C: drive from the menu.

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When the Disk Cleanup window opens, tick Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, and Thumbnails from the list and click OK.

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5. Rebuild Index

Another possible reason for Explorer not responding or acting slowly could be a slow indexing service. If File Explorer is slow to load results (or crashes unexpectedly), it’s time to rebuild the index.

To do this, search for Indexing Option in the Search menu.

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Once you find it, click the Advanced button at the bottom. Now, under Troubleshooting, click on the Rebuild button.

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If the File Explorer not responding issue is related to file indexing, the above should fix your issue. Then restart your PC.

6. Start in a Separate Process

Even if you managed to repair the problem with Windows Explorer, it could most likely reoccur. Therefore, it is best to force the File Explorer window to run in a separate process.

Although Windows claims it’s set by default on most Windows 10 systems, it wouldn’t hurt to take a second look.

To get started, search for File Explorer Options. Once found, select View. Then check the option to start folder windows in a separate process.

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If unchecked, check and save your changes.

7. Check for Corrupted Files

The experienced Windows user in you should know how corrupt files can ruin the system. If some core Windows files were not updated during past updates, this can cause Explorer to malfunction.

Again, there is a way to fix some corrupt files by running the built-in System File Checker (SFC). As you can imagine, SFC checks the system for corrupt or missing files and automatically restores them.

note: However, running SFC should only be viewed as one of the last remaining solutions, as it can be risky. We recommend making a backup of your PC before continuing.

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Launch the start menu and search for Command Prompt. Right click and select Run as Administrator.

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When the Command Prompt window opens, type the following command.

sfc /scannow
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Naturally, this will take some time. Once the command has finished executing, you will do something along the lines of ‘…found corrupt files and successfully repaired them…’.

Restart your computer and the good old Windows File Explorer should be up and running again.

Explore Like a Pro

If, at the end of the day, your system needs to have enough disk space and RAM for all processes, especially Windows Explorer, to run smoothly. If so, the above may only fix the issues temporarily.

Moyens Staff
Moyens I/O Staff has motivated you, giving you tips on technology, personal development, lifestyle and strategies that will help you.