How to Fix If File Explorer Not Responding?

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Windows Explorer is the default file management tool for Windows. It is a built-in Windows system process. Windows processes have a history of failing or crashing occasionally, and Windows Explorer is no exception. Many Windows users have reported that they have encountered crash issues with the Windows Explorer service. It would just stop responding entirely, leaving Windows users frustrated during their usage.

Over the years, people were able to solve this problem using different methods. If you are also facing this trouble with your Windows system, this article will help you out. Here, we have included all the possible solutions that you can try to solve the Windows explorer not responding issue. So without any further ado, let’s get into it.

How to Fix If File Explorer Not Responding?

How to fix Windows Explorer Not Responding?

The solutions mentioned below are the tried and tested solutions that have solved the Windows Explorer not responding problem for many Windows users. It is not possible to determine which method will work with a particular device. So you need to try one solution after the other until you find the one that solves your problem.

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Restart Windows Explorer:

Restarting the Windows Explorer is the first thing that you should try when it stops responding. There are two ways to go about it. You can restart the Explorer using either the Task Manager or the Command Prompt Window.

To restart the Explorer using Task manager,

  • press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open up the Task Manager window.
  • Right-click on Windows Explorer in the apps section and choose “End Task” from the list of options that show up.
  • Click on the File option on the menu bar and choose “Run new task.”
  • Enter “explorer.exe” in the dialog box and click on Ok. This will restart your Windows Explorer.

To restart the Explorer using the command prompt,

  • press Windows Key + R to open up the Run dialog box.
  • Enter “cmd” in the dialog box and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter.
  • Choose Yes when the UAC window pops up.
  • Enter the following command and press the Enter key. This will terminate the Explorer process.

taskkill /f /im explorer.exe

  • Now enter the following command in the cmd window again and press Enter. This command will start the Windows Explorer process in your Windows system.

start explorer.exe

This fix is like a temporary solution that fixes the issue right away for the time being. It might show up again there is something wrong with your system files.

Adjust Display Scaling Settings:

If your Display Scaling settings are not configured properly, you might encounter problems with Windows Explorer.

  • Press Windows + I to open up the Windows Settings window.
  • Click on System.
  • Then click on the Display tab in the left pane of the window.
  • Ensure that the size of text, apps, and other items is set to 100% or anything that Windows recommends.

If it is set to 100% or recommended,  but your Windows Explorer is still not responding, try the next solution mentioned below.

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Run SFC scan:

System File Checker or SFC is a built-in Windows utility that scans the system for missing or corrupted system files. If it finds any issues, the utility program tries to fix them.

  • Press Windows Key + R to open up the Run dialog box.
  • Enter “cmd” in the dialog box and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter.
  • Choose Yes when the UAC window pops up.
  • Enter the following command and press the Enter key.

sfc /scannow

  • Let the process complete, and then restart your computer.

If your Windows Explorer still stops responding, go for the next solution mentioned below.

Clear Explorer History:

Windows Explorer keeps track of every directory that the user access in the system. If there is any inconsistency in this history database, you might encounter occasional crashes with the Windows Explorer. So you need to clear your Windows Explorer history and see if that solves your problem.

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  • Click on the search bar and look for “Control Panel.”
  • Once it shows up in the results section, click on Open.
  • Once the control panel window shows up, set the view by option at the top right corner as Large icons.
  • Click on File Explorer Options.
  • A new window will pop up. Here in the General tab, you will see the “Clear File Explorer History” option. Next to it, you will see a “Clear” button. Click on it.
  • Finally, click on Apply and then click on Ok.

If you encounter Windows Explorer not responding problem even after this, try the next solution mentioned below.

Run netsh and winsock reset:

The netsh and winscok reset solve many Explorer-related issues. So you can give this a try too.

  • Press Windows Key + R to open up the Run dialog box.
  • Enter “cmd” in the dialog box and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter.
  • Choose Yes when the UAC window pops up.
  • Enter the following command and press the Enter key.

netsh winsock reset

  • Let the process complete, and then restart your computer.

If you encounter Windows Explorer not responding problem even after this, try the next solution mentioned below.

Uninstall particular updates:

A couple of Windows 10 updates, namely KB3081449 and KB3081448,  have caused issues with the Windows Explorer process for many. If you have any of these two Windows updates installed on your computer, then uninstall them right away.

  • Press Windows + I to open up the Windows Settings window.
  • Click on Update & Security.
  • Then go to “View installed update history.”
  • Here, you will see the Uninstall updates option. Click on it, and you will see a list of all your installed updates.
  • Find the updates KB3081449 and KB3081448 and then uninstall them.

If you encounter Windows Explorer not responding problem even after this, try the next solution mentioned below.

Change hidden files and folders option:

Hide your hidden files and folders to fix the Windows Explorer not responding issue.

  • Click on the search bar and look for “Control Panel.”
  • Once it shows up in the results section, click on Open.
  • Once the control panel window shows up, set the view by option at the top right corner as Large icons.
  • Click on File Explorer Options.
  • A new window will pop up. Here in the View tab, inside the Advanced settings section, you will find an option for “Hidden Files and Folders.” Under it, choose the option, “Don’t show hidden files, folders or drives.”
  • Click on Apply and then click on Ok.

If you still encounter Windows Explorer not responding issue, go for the next solution mentioned below.

Update Graphics drivers:

Sometimes the graphics drivers can also be the cause behind the Windows Explorer not functioning properly. You need to update the graphics driver to the latest version to ensure that you do not encounter any bugs.

There are three ways to update the graphics drivers. You can do it automatically, manually, or by using a third-party application.

To update the graphics drivers automatically,

  • Press the Windows Key + R to open up the Run dialog box.
  • Enter “devmgmt.msc” in the dialog box and click on Ok.
  • In the list of devices that show up, double-click on Display Adapters. Here, you will see your integrated and dedicated GPUs.
  • Right-click on each of them and choose “Update Driver.”
  • You will see two options now. Click on “Search automatically for updated driver software.”
  • Then follow the on-screen instructions, and Windows will automatically download and install the latest drivers from the internet.

To update the graphics drivers manually, use your web browser to visit the website of your GPU’s manufacturer. Here, you will find the setup files for the graphics drivers for every operating system. Based on your operating system specifications, download the appropriate setup file. After that, install that file, and your graphics drivers will be updated to the latest version.

You can even use a third-party application or program to update your graphics drivers. Several third-party utility programs have the feature to scan your computer for outdated drivers and then install the latest drivers once it finds them. So, these programs will update not only your graphics drivers but also other device drivers. These utility programs charge a bit for their service, but it is worth it since you don’t need to worry about having outdated drivers ever again.

If you still encounter Windows Explorer not responding issue, go for the next solution mentioned below.

Scan for viruses:

Sometimes even malware infections can slow down Windows processes. So if your computer is infected, you might face issues with Windows Explorer. To fix this, install an antivirus program on your computer and update its definitions. Then scan your entire computer with this antivirus program. Make sure to perform a full scan and not a custom or quick scan, as it might skip a few files.

If the virus scan does not reveal any infection, try the next possible solution mentioned below.

Enable Launch folder windows in a separate process:

“Launch folder windows in a separate process” is a specific setting in the folder options section of Windows. Have this setting enabled on your computer can get rid of your Windows Explorer issues.

  • Click on the search bar and look for “Control Panel.”
  • Once it shows up in the results, click Open.
  • Set the view by option at the top right corner as Large icons.
  • Click on File Explorer Options.
  • You will see the “Launch Folder Windows in a separate windows” option under the Advanced Settings section in the view tab. Check the box next to it and enable it.
  • Click on Apply and then click on Ok.

If you still encounter Windows Explorer not responding issue, go for the next solution mentioned below.

Disable Quick Access and File Preview:

There are two privacy settings in the File Explorer options. Disabling them can resolve the Windows Explorer not responding issue for some people.

  • Click on the search bar and look for “Control Panel.”
  • Once it shows up in the results, click on Open.
  • Set the view by option at the top right corner as Large icons.
  • Click on File Explorer Options.
  • In the General tab, you will see a Privacy section. Under this section, there are two options, “Show recently used files in Quick Access” and “Show frequently used folders in Quick access.” Disable both of them
  • by unchecking the boxes next to them.
  • Now go to the View tab, and under the Advanced settings section, you will find “Show preview handlers in the preview pane.” Disable it by unchecking the box next to it.
  • Click on Apply and then click on Ok.

If you encounter the Windows Explorer not responding issue even after this, try the next solution mentioned below.

Check your memory:

Windows has a built-in Memory diagnostic tool that can scan your memory stick and fix any possible issues with it. The Windows Explorer not responding issue could be related to your memory. So use this built-in utility tool to try and fix your Windows Explorer problem.

Click on the search bar and look for “Memory Diagnostic.”
In the results, you will see “Windows Memory Diagnostic.” Click on Open.
Two options will show up now. Choose “Restart now and check for problems (recommended)” here. Your computer will restart on its own and run the diagnostic tool in the startup.

If the memory diagnostic tool does not solve your problem with Windows Explorer, try the next solution mentioned below.

Perform Clean Boot:

Performing a clean boot can get rid of most Windows-related problems. Even with the Windows Explorer not responding issue, you can try clean booting your system.

  • Press Windows Key + R to open up the Run dialog box.
  • Enter “msconfig” in the dialog box and click on Ok.
  • Click on the Services tab and check the box next to “Hide all Microsoft services.”
  • Now click on the Disable All button.
  • Go to the Startup tab of the System Configuration window and click on “Open Task Manager.”
  • Select each application in the list one by one and click on the “Disable” button every time.
  • Close the Task Manager and then in the startup tab of the system configuration window, click on Ok.
  • Finally, restart your computer.

If even after the clean boot, the Windows Explorer stops responding, try the next solution mentioned below.

Reset file association:

This method has worked wonders for some Windows users who had Windows Explorer freeze and crash issues.

  • Press Windows Key + I to open up the Windows Settings window.
  • Click on Apps.
  • Then click on the “Default apps” tab.
  • In the right-pane, scroll down to “Reset to the Microsoft recommended defaults” and click the Reset button.

If resetting file associations does not solve your problem, try the next possible solution.

Update Windows:

Having the latest version of Windows running on your system is important if you don’t want any system processes acting out of order. So if you are on an older version or build of Windows, update it to the latest version, and it might solve your Windows Explorer not responding issue.

  • Press Windows Key + I to open up the Windows Settings window.
  • Click on Update & Security.
  • Then click on the “Windows Update ” tab.
  • In the right pane, click on the “Check for updates” button.

Wait till Windows finds and installs the new Windows updates. If even after updating the Windows Operating system, you still encounter the Windows Explorer not responding issue, try the next solution mentioned below.

Use System Restore:

System restore takes your system back to the point of time when everything in your system was working fine, that is if the computer has a restore point saved for that point. It basically makes the system go back in time, which will result in the loss of any system changes made to the computer. If you installed any updates or any application, then it will all be gone again. This system restore helps Windows users eliminate many problems when people unknowingly install something that damages the system files. So even with the Windows Explorer not responding issue, you should try restoring your system.

  • Click on the search bar and look for “Control Panel.”
  • Once it shows up in the results, click on Open.
  • Set the view by option at the top right corner as Large icons.
  • Click on “Recovery” and then click on “Open System Restore.”
  • In the system restore window, click on Next. Now you will see a list of all the restore points on your computer. Choose the one according to your requirement and then click on Next.
  • Finally, click on Finish, and then your system will be restored.

So, these are all the solutions that one can try to fix the Windows Explorer Not Responding issue. If you have any questions or queries about this article, then comment down below, and we will get back to you. Also, be sure to check out our other articles on iPhone tips and tricks, Android tips and tricks, PC tips and tricks, and much more for more useful information.

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