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Windows Explorer:  Slow (Read 7948 times)
Pleonasm
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Windows Explorer:  Slow
Jul 16th, 2006 at 8:55am
 
Windows Explorer (Windows XP Pro SP2) formerly launched and opened within 1-2 seconds, but is now taking 30-45 seconds.  During the period between starting Windows Explorer (WindowsShiftKey+E) and the appearance of the application, there is no noticeable disk activity.

A reboot or cold start of the PC does not solve the problem, and there is no malware on the machine (as reported by Norton Internet Security 2006, Webroot Spy Sweeper 5.0, Ad-Aware SE Professional, and SpyBot).  I have examined all active running processes as well as all startup items, and nothing is awry.  With the exception of this one problem, the PC is operating properly in all other respects.

In searching the web, it appears that the issue has been widespread and is often due to:
I have confirmed that none of the above are responsible for the slow behavior of Windows Explorer on my PC – and thus am at a loss to determine the source of the problem.

Any recommendations?
 

ple • o • nasm n. “The use of more words than are required to express an idea”
 
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Brian
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #1 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 9:20am
 
Pleonasm,

A few months ago two of my kids' computers had a similar problem. Windows Explorer would take a minute or so to load on the first occasion and load in 1 to 2 seconds on subsequent occasions. Rebooting started the minute to load on the first occasion cycle. NAV found the same malware in both computers but removing it didn't correct the problem. I restored images from the previous week and the problem was fixed. I can't remember what NAV found.
 
 
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John.
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #2 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 9:42am
 
Open Windows Explorer.
1. Click on the Folders icon so you have the traditional two-panel display.  
2. Select/Highlight "My Network Places" in the left panel, and then look at the right panel and see if you have any shortcuts there, specifically any shortcuts that point to Internet locations, websites or ftp locations.  If there ARE any there on the right panel, delete them.  Leftover web shortcuts are often culprits in the slow startup.

Additionally, clear your recent documents list which can also cause the slowdown you describe, especially if a file/document you recently opened was a remote one:
1. Right Click in the properties toolbar
2. Start Menu
3. Customize
4. Advanced
5. My Recent Documents -- select "Clear List"
6. Enter
 

Ghost4me  Ghost 9, 10, 12, 14, 15.  Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7
 
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Pleonasm
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #3 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 2:20pm
 
Brian and Ghost4me, thank you for the suggestions.

Brian, I ran Norton AntiVirus 2006 again with the most recent definitions, and it detected no concerns.  Thus, I don't believe that malware is the cause of the problem in my case.

Ghost4me, the "My Network Places" did not contain any shortcuts.  (A good troubleshooting idea, nonetheless!)

However, the problem does appear to be related – in some unknown way – to the MRU (Most Recently Used) tracking functionality of Windows.  Although "C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Recent" is empty, a right-click of the Start button & Properties & Start Menu-Customize & Advanced & Recent Documents-Clear List results in the display of an "hourglass" and the operation does not terminate.

Perhaps this problem will become the motivation I need to adopt one of the better file managers for Windows XP as a replacement for Windows Explorer.  Do you have any experience with or recommendations for one?

A review of file managers may be found here, and a comprehensive listing of file manager options here.
 

ple • o • nasm n. “The use of more words than are required to express an idea”
 
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John.
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #4 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 3:52pm
 
Pleonasm wrote on Jul 16th, 2006 at 2:20pm:
However, the problem does appear to be related – in some unknown way – to the MRU (Most Recently Used) tracking functionality of Windows.  Although "C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Recent" is empty, a right-click of the Start button & Properties & Start Menu-Customize & Advanced & Recent Documents-Clear List results in the display of an "hourglass" and the operation does not terminate.

I don't think you waited long enough.  Wait longer.  It may take awhile because of the location of some of the links.  You're getting close to the problem I think.

Or manually delete them by navigating to:
c:\Documents and Settings\your-logon-userid\Start Menu\Recent
Then delete all the shortcuts in the right hand panel.

Then try properties approach again.

Another thing:  While in Windows Explorer...Recent folder, select Tools/Folder Options/View/ and UNCHECK "Automatically search for network folders and printers". ok, ok, etc.

Also delete your Temporary Internet Files.

Don't blame the messenger (Windows Explorer) for the message yet.
 

Ghost4me  Ghost 9, 10, 12, 14, 15.  Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7
 
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John.
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #5 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 3:57pm
 
However, one free one I like is explorer2 lite or pro:

http://zabkat.com/x2lite.htm

 

Ghost4me  Ghost 9, 10, 12, 14, 15.  Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7
 
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #6 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 4:03pm
 
Pleonasm

I've been using *PowerDesk4*--the version 4.xx when it was still by OnTrack--it's the *free* version--just occasional nag screen that you can *Cancel* out of asking if you want to purchase the *Pro* version--the link sends you to the OnTrack website--but they sold the program to another company now--the latest version is 6.xx, I think, and it may be a trial/shareware--no longer *free*.

Used it since Win95, onto Win98se, and now on WinXP--still offers all the functions I need--I suspect there are newer file manager functions that I'm unaware of--but, until one becomes a *must have* that I become aware of--I'm good with this version!

Regarding the slow loading of Windows Explorer--I saw something about a networking issue--but that may have been when logging onto WinXP--system was looking for a network share, or something to that effect, that was no longer there--and Windows kept looking until a *time-out* occurred.
 

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John.
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #7 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 4:27pm
 
I doubt that this applies, but be sure that you don't have a cdrom or dvd in one of your drives.  Any "refresh" of locations will slow down.

Also, try doing a c: search for "ftp" just to verify there aren't any ftp shortcuts stored in some unusual place.
 

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Pleonasm
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #8 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 5:37pm
 
Ghost4m3, your advice that "I don't think you waited long enough.  Wait longer." was correct, at least in so far as the operation completed after about 15 minutes.  I also disabled the option "Automatically search for network folders and printers" in Windows Explorer, cleared all Temporary Internet Files, and delete all items in the folder "C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Recent".  Unfortunately, the problem still persists.

In the spirit of troubleshooting, here are a few other observations that may be pertinent.

(1) Using WindowsShiftKey+E to launch Windows Explorer results in about a 30 second delay before the application is launched.  Interestingly, however, clicking on the following shortcut starts Windows Explorer immediately:

    C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe /e,"C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\My Documents"

Therefore, the behavior is different depending upon the method by which Windows Explorer is launched (keyboard shortcut versus program shortcut).

(2) Opening a Microsoft Word 2003 document by clicking on the file name displayed within Windows Explorer results in about a 45 second delay before the application is launched and the document is loaded.  However, if Word is invoked directly (through the Start -> All Programs menu), it starts promptly; and if the document is then selected from within Word (File -> Open), it opens instantly.  A .PDF document, in contrast, opens immediately when the file name is clicked within Windows Explorer.

Could some aspect of Norton Internet Security 2006 be responsible for this issue?  As a test, I did disable the two features "Program component monitoring" and "Program launch monitoring", as well as disabling the Norton AntiVirus option "Turn Office Plug-in on".  Yet, these changes did not alter the behaviors I have reported (alas!).

What might the above observations suggest?

P.S.:  Couldn't find any FTP shortcuts on the PC, and the behavior of Windows Explorer is the same whether or not a disc is inserted within either or both of the two optical drives on the machine.

P.S.:  NightOwl and Ghost4me, I'll wait a bit before trying one of your recommended file managers.
 

ple • o • nasm n. “The use of more words than are required to express an idea”
 
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John.
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #9 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 5:59pm
 
OK, looks like you're making some progress.

The ShiftKey+E and the opening by double-clicking issue suggest there is a problem with the context handling.  For example, when you select a file and choose "Open with", then XP has to search through all the file associations and present a list to you to choose from one.  It can be painfully slow if you have a long list, slow pc, or corrupted file associations.

I know there are utilities that display/modify all the context handling.  I will have to think about it and see if I can find some references, but you might try googling in that area.
 

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John.
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #10 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 6:03pm
 
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=context+right+click

It's possible that one of your context pointers or file association pointers is pointing off to some invalid location, which is why it is taking so long.

Have a look at some of the searches above.
 

Ghost4me  Ghost 9, 10, 12, 14, 15.  Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7
 
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Brian
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #11 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 6:09pm
 
Pleonasm wrote on Jul 16th, 2006 at 2:20pm:
Brian, I ran Norton AntiVirus 2006 again with the most recent definitions, and it detected no concerns.  Thus, I don't believe that malware is the cause of the problem in my case.




Pleo, I don't know the answer but there were a few inconsistencies with NAV. I looked back at images taken over the few weeks prior to our problem and the malware files were present but were not being detected by NAV on the weekly scans. The Symantec site indicated that definitions for this malware had been available for over a year. In the Norton Ghost 9 plugin, cmdow.exe is now being detected as malware by NAV (last month or so) and definitions have been available since Jan 2004.

Does your Windows Explorer open properly on the second and subsequent attempts?

I didn't fix our problem with NAV. I restored an image.
 
 
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Pleonasm
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #12 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 6:32pm
 
Ghost4me, I'll take a look at the context-handling approach, and report back.

Also note that I did a search of the registry for any values with the "\\" designation, and found no network references.  Additionally, while blocking all Internet access (using Norton Internet Security 2006), the Windows Explorer problems remain.

Brian, I do have (fortunately) a Ghost 10 image that was created shortly before the appearance of this problem.  I would prefer to identify the root cause and solve it, but - if unsuccessful - will restore the image.
 

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Brian
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #13 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 7:29pm
 
Pleo, does Windows Explorer open within a few seconds on the second and subsequent attempts?
 
 
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John.
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Re: Windows Explorer:  Slow
Reply #14 - Jul 16th, 2006 at 9:57pm
 
Pleonasm, I doubt that this will solve your problem, but it's a free program that I think you will be interested in:

MRU Blaster
http://www.snapfiles.com/get/mrublaster.html
 

Ghost4me  Ghost 9, 10, 12, 14, 15.  Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7
 
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