Windows 10 File Explorer Not Responding – Step-By-Step Guide

File explorer can refuse to respond at anytime and you need to be prepared on what to do when you encounter this problem.

What to do to resolve this is simple but first, i want to let you know that you are going to learn what file explorer is, why it’s not responding, and how to resolve it in this article.

When file explorer refuses to respond, it could lead to your taskbar going missing or probably just make you unable to add a folder into it. Sometimes, it basically gets stuck on working on it, making quick access very inaccessible.

You don’t have to worry over whatever the case may be concerning your file explorer because these are common problems in windows 10 and can easily be fixed if you stick to the end of this article.

Now, let’s get into it. 😊

What is File Explorer?

Tutorialspoint defined file explorer as the file management application used by Windows 10 operating system to browser files and folders.

This simply means file explorer provides a graphical interface for users to navigate and access files stored in their computers.

Here’s what file explorer looks like on windows 10

Why is file explorer not responding?

Here are the reasons.

1. Cache Files Build up

Overtime, cache files will accumulate on your computer based on how frequent you use your computer.

When cache files keep getting bigger in size somewhere on your computer, this sometimes causes conflicts or errors when your computer is trying to access a program.

If you open file explorer frequently, the cache files are stored somewhere on your computer to help you easily access file explorer much faster the next time you open file explorer in the future. This also applies to other programs on your computer.

It’s important to clear these cache files or data at least once in three weeks to keep your computer from avoiding future problems.

2. Outdated Windows and Drivers

In most cases, if your drivers aren’t up to date, you have a high chance of having issues with your outdated programs and more importantly, you will be missing out on the new features that are supposed to come with the new update.

File Explorer by default is a part of Windows operating system therefore, not updating windows keeps file explorer outdated.

It’s important to keep your windows and app updated to avoid future problem.

3. Storage is Full

Computer performance beings to slow down over time as storage begins to get filled up. Now, this gets even worse if your computer has been slow right from day one.

This kind of situation can cause complex issues on your computer that will be very challenging to resolve.

If your storage is getting full or is already full, you should consider deleting some files that are less important to increase storage space.

A really quick way of dealing with a storage that is already full or getting full is to search for the largest files on your computer and work your way from there.

4. Virus and Malware

If your file explorer is malfunctioning, there’s a chance that you’ve been attacked by a virus or malware.

These kinds of attacks are things you should take very seriously because you never can tell what purpose they serve on your computer.

A powerful tool like iObit Malware Fighter would help you protect, fix your computer and restore it back to normal.

5. Corrupted programs

Your file explorer could be reacting to a program that is corrupted on your computer. It’s sometimes really difficult to know which program is corrupted and an easy way to find out is to launch all your programs one after the other to see which program will malfunction.

Also, if you manage to find any corrupted program, you can choose to repair it. If you are unable to repair it, then you should uninstall it.

6. Slow Computer

A slow computer is one of the main causes to why file explorer isn’t responding.

Normally, when you launch file explorer on a slow computer, it would launch but not yet fully loaded.

Sometimes, you might see “working on it” that could last for a very long time which can lead some people to either right-click or left-click anywhere on file explorer which then leads to the not responding error.

The point here is that, if you know your computer is slow, you should avoid clicking on anything after you launch file explorer and have that patience till it loads completely.

More importantly, you should learn to speed up your Windows 10 PC to avoid future complications.

How to Fix Windows 10 File Explorer Not Responding

Follow the instructions carefully. Here’s how,

1. Restart the explorer.exe (File Explorer)

There are three ways to restart explorer.exe on your computer. These ways are:

  1. Task manager
  2. Command Prompt
  3. Batch file

Task Manager

Perform this method while file explorer is running even though it’s not responding.

Here’s how to use task manager to restart file explorer,

1. Press the following command to open task manager:

Shift + Ctrl + Esc
task manager minimized

2. Click on more details to expand task manager.

more details task manager

3. Make sure you are on processes tab.

task manager processes tab

4. Select windows explorer in the app section.

file explorer in task manager

5. Now, click on restart by your lower right-hand side.

restarting file explorer with task manager

Command Prompt

Note – If your taskbar is gone, use this method to recover it.

Here’s how to use command prompt to restart file explorer,

1. Press the following command to open Run box:

Windows Key + R
run box in windows

2. Inside run box, type the following command to open command prompt and press ok:

cmd.exe
opening command prompt with run box

3. When command prompt opens, enter the following command and press enter to end the explorer.exe process:

taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
ending file explorer with command prompt

Note – Don’t worry if your taskbar is gone, step 4 will bring it back.

4. Enter the following command and press ok to restart the explorer.exe:

start explorer.exe
restarting file explorer with command prompt

Batch File

With a batch file, you can simply restart your file explorer with a double-click.

Here’s how,

1. On your desktop, right click and navigate to new and select text document.

Creating text document

2. Open the text document and copy the following text into the text document:

taskkill /f /IM explorer.exe

start explorer.exe

exit
command to end file explorer in text document

3. Click on file by your top right-hand side and select save as.

saving test document

4. Choose your desired location where you want the text document to be saved.

save to location

5. Change the file name to “Restart Explorer.bat“.

rename file

6. Click on save to create the batch file.

save file

7. Locate the file you just saved and create a shortcut to your desktop.

desktop icons

8. Now, locate and double-click on the batch file to restart file explorer.

2. Exit Explorer from the Taskbar and Restart with Task Manager

Here’s how

1. Press and hold the following command while you right click on the taskbar:

Shift + Ctrl

2. Release your hand and click on exit explorer at the bottom of the list.

exit explorer from taskbar

3. Press the following command to open task manager:

Shift + Ctrl + Esc
task manager

4. Click on file at the top left-hand corner.

file task manager

5. Select run new task.

run new task in task manager

6. Type the following command into the create new task dialog box:

explorer.exe
create new task

7. Click on ok.

save task

3. Run System File Checker Scan

Here’s how,

1. Search for command prompt in windows search.

search for command prompt in windows search

2. Right click on command prompt from the search result and select run as administrator.

run command prompt as administrator

3. Enter the following command and press enter to begin scanning:

sfc /scannow
scan now

If that command doesn’t work, try this other command, and click on enter:

sfc /scannow /offbootdir=c:\ /offwindir=c:\windows
scan now 2

4. When the scanning is done, restart your computer.

5. Press the following command to launch run box:

Windows key + R
run box in windows

6. Type the following command into the run box without hitting ok:

cmd
cmd run

7. Press the following command on your keyboard:

Ctrl + Shift + Enter

8. Click on yes to open command prompt.

9. Copy and paste the following command inside command prompt and hit enter:

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
safe scan command prompt

10. When the process is complete, restart your computer.

4. Clear File Explorer and Quick Access History

Here’s how,

1. Search for control panel in windows search.

search control panel in windows search

2. Click on control panel from the search results.

control panel result in windows search

3. Set view by to small icons by your top right-hand side.

small icons in command prompt

4. Select file explorer options inside control panel.

file explorer options in control panel

5. While on the general tab, click on clear in the privacy section.

clearing file explorer history

6. Still, on file explorer options, change open file explorer to quick access and click on clear in the privacy section.

clearing quick access history

7. Click on apply then ok.

apply and ok

5. Change Display Settings

Here’s how to change your display settings,

1. Press the following command to open windows settings:

Windows key + I
windows settings

2. Click on system inside windows settings.

windows 10 system settings

3. While on the Display section, change the scale and layout to 100% or recommended. You should test both.

scaling to recommended or 100 percent

6. Update Windows 10

Here’s how to perform windows update on windows 10,

1. Press the following command to open windows settings:

Windows key + I
Windows settings

2. Click on update & security inside windows settings.

update and security in windows settings

3. While in windows update section, click on check for updates.

If there’s any update available, download it and restart your computer to install the updates

download and install update

7. Update Graphics Driver

Here’s how

1. Search for device manager on your computer and click on it.

device manager result

2. Look for display adaptors and click on the drop down.

display drivers in device manager

3. In the dropdown list, the number of drivers you see is the amount of graphics drivers you have on your computer.

4. Now, left click on one of the drivers and click on update driver.

update driver in device manager

5. You will be given two options, choose search automatically for updated driver software.

search automatically for updated drivers software

6. Now proceed with the instructions to update your drivers.

7. If you have multiple graphics card drivers, you must update all of them.

8. Open File explorer to This PC

Here’s how,

1. Search for control panel in windows search.

search control panel in windows search

2. Click on control panel from the search results.

control panel result in windows search

3. Set view by to small icons by your top right-hand corner.

small icons in command prompt

4. Select file explorer options inside control panel.

file explorer options in control panel

5. Set open file explorer to This PC.

file explorer options set to this pc

6. Click on apply then ok.

apply and ok

9. Disable Details and Preview Pane

Here’s how,

1. Press the following command to open file explorer

Windows key + E
file explorer
Night mode enabled

2. Click on the view tab.

view tab in file explorer

3. Disable preview pane and details pane. Make sure they are not selected.

preview and details pain in file explorer

10. Restore defaults of File Explorer Options

Here is how,

1. Press the following command to open run box:

Windows key + R
run box in windows

2. When the run box launches, type in the following command and press ok:

control.exe folders
control.exe folders

3. Make sure you are on the general tab.

general tab in file explorer options

4. Click on restore defaults below the privacy section.

restore defaults in file explorer options

5. Click on apply then ok.

apply and ok

6. Now, restart your computer.

11. Clean boot your computer

Here’s how,

1. Press the following command to launch run box and press ok to open system configuration:

msconfig
msconfig

2. Make sure you are on the general tab in system configuration.

general tab boot

3. Uncheck the load startup items box.

load startup items

4. Check the load system services box.

load system services

5. Navigate to the services tab.

service tab boot

6. Check hide all Microsoft services box.

hide all microsoft service

7. Click on disable all.

disable all

8. Click on apply then ok.

apply and ok

9. Restart your computer.

12. Restart Windows Search

Here’s how,

1. Search for command prompt in windows search.

search for command prompt in windows search

2. Right click on command prompt among the result and select run as administrator.

run command prompt as administrator

3. Type or copy and paste the following command into command prompt and hit enter:

net.exe stop “Windows search”
net.exe stop “Windows search”

4. Close command prompt.

5. Press the following command on your keyboard to launch run box:

Windows key + R
run box in windows

6. Type the following into the run box and hit enter to open services window:

services.msc
services.msc

7. Inside services, scroll down to look for windows search in the name section.

windows search in services

8. When you find windows search, right click on it, and select restart.

restarting windows search

13. Find the root cause of the problem with Event Viewer

This will help you find applications or programs that is causing the problem so you can uninstall it.

Here’s what you need to do.

1. Press the following command on your keyboard to launch run box:

Windows key + R
run box in windows

2. Type in or copy and paste the following into run box and click on ok to open event viewer.

eventvwr.msc
eventvwr.msc

3. Inside event viewer, click on windows log by your left-hand side to reveal a drop down.

windows log

4. Select system inside that drop down.

System in event viewer

5. In the number of events section, scroll down to look for error. If you have multiple errors, select the first error.

error in event viewer

6. Now, check the general tab below to know the cause of the error. Perform this for all your errors.

general and details error

7. Check if any of those errors are associating with a third-party program. If they are, then you need to uninstall those programs.

8. Restart your computer.

14. Find the cause of error with Reliability history

Reliability history is also good way to know what is causing file explorer to not respond.

Here’s what you need to do,

1. Search for view reliability history in windows search.

view relaibility history in search

2. Click on view reliability history from the search result.

view reliability history in search result

3. Hold on for some seconds till reliability monitor opens.

4. Select the most recent date the error occurred.

5. In the reliability details for section, check the source and summary to view which program is causing the error.

view reliability history

6. Most windows 10 users claim IDTNC64.cpl is the main cause of the issue file explorer is having. if you this file on your computer or you found any other program in reliability monitor contributing to the problem, you should remove those programs.

15. Restore Windows 10 to an Earlier Date

Here’s what you should do,

1. Search for create a restore point in windows search.

search for create a restore point

2. Click on create a restore point from the results.

result for create a restore point

3. Click on system restore under system protection tab.

system restore

4. Continue with the instructions to restore windows 10 to an earlier date.

Leave a Comment