Stupid Windows Software

I was having terrible problems with slowness loading thumbnails in Windows Explorer. It turns out that if you remove an image file from a directory, Windows is too dumb to update the thumbnails.db

You can have five image files in a directory which used to contain 500 image files, and Windows will attempt to update the thumbnails of the 495 missing image files, over and over again.

You can fix this by running Windows system software “Disk Cleanup” and cleaning up Thumbnails.


About stevengoddard

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28 Responses to Stupid Windows Software

  1. Bob Greene says:

    Storage and memory are cheap. Processors are increasingly fast. So, why should Microsoft create anything other than sloppy code? If the windows slows you down because it doesn’t need to feel the need to automatically cleanup thumbnails, the obvious solution is a new computer with the next MS bug fix.

    • stpaulchuck says:

      Best solution : switch to Linux. I’ve got Server 2008 R2 and Win 7 Pro on my machines. As soon as the support ends I’m “movin’ on over”. Enough already.

      • ln -s /dev/null thumbnails.db

      • Gail Combs says:

        Hubby erased Windows from our computers and loaded Linux even on the brand new one he just bought for himself. (The rest are dinosaurs bought for ~$30 each)

        • Linux ain’t all that any more. Poettering has the bizarre notion that your web-browser should care which method you use to start your ssh server, so they’re making the gag-inducing systemd a requirement for nearly everything. Yes, it’s exactly as bad as the old windows system registry, including the inability to edit startup files from anything but a bundled, graphical editor (hooray! no more fixing a broken system from a serial connexion! progress!).

          I’d move my wife to FreeBSD, but she’s as cli averse as I am gui averse.

        • Tel says:

          Systemd does rather undo the notion of minimal interface dependency that was a very hard lesson. They should rename it “multics”.

          I think the new generation will figure it out, given a bit of time. A lot of old lessons need re-learning, we are at that stage of social development it seems. About time to start work on a whole new typographical system.

    • nielszoo says:

      I don’t even think the bloatware smiths replace code. I think they leave it there and all the patches write around the problem so that it’s just covered up and still eating memory and CPU cycles. I miss DOS. Even RSX on the PDP-11 I had booted faster than my 8 core workstation running Win7 Pro 64 bit.

      • In fairness, if you’re running a closed system on a narrowly defined base of hardware, startup can be super fast. No need to probe or enumerate all the weird garbage that ends up plugged into your typical PC.

        Of course, my FreeBSD machine is slow on startup because it establishes its wireless connexion & checks the filesystems before it goes multiuser. It takes about 20ms to source .cshrc & display the prompt after I’ve entered my password & the system is up. Last time I used a windows machine (Windows 2000, I think? I did use Vista to burn a CD to wipe out Vista back in 2009, though) there was a nice 20+ second delay after you entered your password until you had a useable machine, & that’s with a fresh install & practically every possible service disabled.

  2. omanuel says:

    Bill Gates and Windows Software are high on the list.

  3. omanuel says:

    Bill Gates and Windows Software are high on the list.

  4. stpaulchuck says:

    I’ve been working with Micro$oft products for decades. I didn’t know about THIS ‘feature’ though. Thanks for the info! I do have to admit though that their crappy software made me a good living as a programmer and system admin. If the stuff worked as advertised bunches of us would have had to seek ‘other employment’.

  5. I noticed the thumbnails of pics that were already deleted. Never knew I could do this. Thanks.

  6. MrX says:

    Thanks for the tip. This will be useful.

  7. Michael 2 says:

    Another similar feature is turning off thumbnails entirely, handy for folders that contain thousands of images, especially videos. If you don’t, it enumerates the entire folder and that can take quite a long time and thrash the disk severely. In windows explorer, Organize, Folder and Search Options, View, “Always show icons, never thumbnails”.

    I find myself turning it back on when I need thumbnails, but when working with video, I turn it off.

  8. Byron says:

    Haven’t run across this issue before , as I usually right click mouse , select view , select list over all folders I use frequently and run a disc cleanup utility on a regular basis

  9. Mat Helm says:

    Windows seems a whole lot better when you have access to OEM pricing. I found this guy from some post over on, and it’s on the up n up. As in not a pirate thing, except the fact that windows and OSX are both pirated by their respective company’s to start with….

    I’ve used him a couple of times now and everything works same as a retail version….

  10. Jimmy Haigh says:

    I’ve just cleaned out 114 MB of Thumbnails. Cheers!

  11. gator69 says:

    I have to run a disk cleanup at least once per day.

  12. AndyG55 says:

    Hey, I need my thumbnails ! 🙂

  13. I stopped staring at Windows years ago. And, on those rare occasions that I’m forced to, the view hasn’t much improved.

  14. Anthony S says:

    CCleaner does this a lot faster than the Windows disk cleanup tool. It’s also great for cleaning up the registry.

    And it’s free!

  15. +1 on ccleaner. Much faster and lots of other options… Watch out or it will clean things you don’t want cleaned (like “most recently used” lists, which I like to keep, and you can un-check”

    Wise disk cleaner is also great. SlimCleaner is fantastic for disk defrag, blazing fast, and does lots of cleaning too.

  16. tuckerhst says:

    Tony, if you’re running Vista or later, I suspect you mean one of the Thumbcache_*.db files (maintained centrally) vs Thumbs.db (per folder). Here’s some documentation on the difference, along with some notes on the forensic implications.

    Click to access UnderMyThumbs.pdf

  17. Laz M says:

    MS has an old article that I reference a lot on how to automate disk cleanup via the command line / batch files / etc.

    I would do the following at a command prompt window:
    c:\windows\system32> cleanmgr /d c: /sageset:1001

    At this point the disk cleanup dialog box opens up. Set what you want automagically cleaned on a schedule for you (say, thumbnails) … and press OK … whatever items you selected will be saved under the registry key 1001. If you ever want to make changes to what could potentially be automatically cleaned on a schedule, simply re-input the command above.

    To set up other settigns for other drives I use a different sageset number … so for drive D: id say
    c:\windows\system32> cleanmgr /d d: /sageset:1002

    …etc. Now, to actually schedule the cleaning simply add this to the task scheduler:
    cleanmgr /sagerun:1001

    and set it to run every day at 2am or whatever works for you.


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