Windows 7 file and folder refresh problem

UPDATE: Some Windows 7 users have reported to me that Option 1 & 2 didn’t work for them. I did a little more research and those users who had problems with 1 &2, found Option 3 worked for them.

Some think the Windows 7 file and folder refresh problem might be linked to either a malicious file or some third-party application. Firstly, this isn’t anything to do with a malicious file. I actually suspect this is more to do with a Windows 7 coding issue rather than any third-party application.

The file and folder refresh problem occurs on the Windows 7 Desktop and Explorer and is a mighty frustrating problem. You might notice icons or files/folders not automatically refreshing which has forced some people to hit F5 (refresh). The file and folder refresh problem doesn’t happen when Windows is rebooted every day. It only appears to be happening with us, when it is left in hiberation/standby mode for more than one day.

Here in the IDTP office we have found some simple work arounds:

Option 1

  • Close all Explorer windows you have open
  • Start the Task Manager (Click CTRL+ALT+DEL) or;
  • Click Start, TYPE ‘Task Manager’ in the search box
  • Click File > New Task (Run)
  • Type Explorer and then press ENTER
  • Close Task Manager

Option 2

  • Click Start, and TYPE ‘regedit’ in the search box
  • Click on Edit then Find
  • Search for “Dontrefresh”
  • Right click on “Dontrefresh” and click ‘Modify’
  • Change the Hexadecimal value from ‘1’ to ‘0’

Option 3

  • In PROCESSES TAB right click and end EXPLORER.EXE process
  • From FILE menu of TASK MANAGER select New Task (Run…)
  • Type CMD.EXE and click OK
  • In the COMMAND PROMPT WINDOW copy and insert the following commands:

CD /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local
DEL IconCache.db /a

  • Open TASK MANAGER and select New Task (Run…)
  • Type EXPLORER.EXE and click ok

Microsoft doesn’t appear to have fixed this file and folder refresh issue which can also be found in Windows XP and Windows Vista. Maybe Windows 8 might come with the refresh issue fixed. πŸ™‚ For now, this problem is just that, an irritating problem, rather than anything malicious.

Safe surfing folks!

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74 Responses to Windows 7 file and folder refresh problem

  1. Dmitry says:

    Thanks a lot! I though this bug cannot be fixed! I even tried to find a solution at Microsoft web-site but useless. Once again, thanks, it works!

  2. Jeff says:

    Hey Julian thanks for your post. Any advice if the string: dontrefresh does not appear anywhere in the registry, Windows 7 64-bit?

    • Julian says:

      #Jeff# The “DontRefresh” string should appear in the Windows 7 64-bit registry. No doubt you have cut and paste “DontRefresh”. Can you registry search again >Edit >Find and check all the boxes. Let me know how you get on.

  3. Dragon20000 says:

    Option 2

    is not found >>> Dontrefresh
    What I Should do ???

  4. Pplucky says:

    I could automate option 3 by running a bat file with the following:

    taskkill /fi “imagename eq explorer.exe” /f
    CD /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local
    DEL IconCache.db /a
    START explorer.exe

    Hope it helps you as it did help me…

    • Julian says:

      #Pplucky# Thanks for the batch file script! For my non-techie visitors – Open notepad and save it as “.bat” at the end of your filename – so let’s call the file “Win7refresh.bat” (save to desktop) > add text “@echo off” and then copy and past the above commands.

      • lipe says:

        Hi, thanks a lot for the post, the strange thing is that in 3 years i never had this problem but i had the Q0V6 virus and i had to re-install windows 7 last week, so the refreshing problem came along =/, creating this bat file worked for me, until now at least, but should i leave the file on desktop or put it somewhere else? thank you!

        • Julian says:

          #lipe# You could place the .bat file in a TrueCrypt volume, if you are concerned a virus might look to compromise Windows refresh through the .bat file. Don’t forget to use a password manager and long/strong passkey for your volume. πŸ™‚

  5. Giri says:

    Thanks a lot. The options 3 worked for me.

  6. Nick says:


    I tried every possible way to type “DontRefresh”, it never shows in the registry. Any advice?

    • Julian says:

      #Nick# The “DontRefresh” DWORD registry entry doesn’t always appear – I don’t know why either :(. The exact number of registry keys and their specific handles will also vary with each Windows 7 installation which makes individual diagnosis even more challenging. Have you tried OPTION 3?

  7. Steve says:

    Options 1-3 failed to fix. Company IT staff stumped too. Maybe a fix in Windows 8!? Or maybe not… Maybe I’ll just get a Mac.

    • Julian says:

      #Steve# I’ve retested options 1-3 and it does appear the file and folder refresh issue reappears after a period of time – in particular if you have your PC system in hibernation mode. Option 3 does work for a time though. I’m running Windows 7 on a Mac with Parallels and I’ve not seen this issue which baffles me. I’m hopeful this irritating Windows bug will be fixed for good in Windows 8 too!

  8. Steve says:


    I think I may have a different problem altogether. It seems to be isolated to the refresh on deletions only. Thanks for the reply.

  9. Eugene Y says:

    Using Win 7 64bit

    Got to %userprofile%\AppData\Local
    and delete IconCachedb.dat file.

    Then restarted explorer.exe.

    Thanks Julian!

  10. e1218006 says:

    Setting DontRefresh to 0 does solve the refresh icon issue for me, but it had an undesirable side-effect on my Win7x64 PC. Browsing folders in Windows Explorer was noticeably slower, to the point that I was ready to do a complete re-install of Windows… good thing I remembered I changed DontRefresh a couple of months ago. After changing back to 1, the folder browsing performance was back to normal.

    I can live with having to constantly hit F5 to refresh (we have to live with so many Windows bugs anyway), but I couldn’t deal with the performance degradation that this change caused.

    • Julian says:

      #e1218006# I hadn’t noticed a performance degradation with Win7 x64bit, but thanks for pointing this out for the benefit of our Win7 x64bit readers. πŸ™‚

  11. Nico says:

    We have the same problem here and suspect either an update on Windows or on our File Server (EMC NAS in SMB mode, not a Windows Box).
    Do you guys also have a file server not on a real Windows Server ?
    Try to root cause the issue.
    If it is a Windows update, it may be one of the June update following the Posts seen all around, without solution yet πŸ˜‰

    • computerkidt says:

      Option 1 didnt work
      Option 2 couldnt find it
      Option 3 didnt work

      Thanks I did have 2 desktop.ini and deleting them fixed it.

  12. Hal says:

    Option 2 worked perfectly for me. Thanks for the tip, as it’s going to save me so much time.

    One thing to note is that when I first got into regedit, it had a subfolder selected from the last time I was in there. Dontrefresh didn’t show up in search results until I went to the top of the hierarchy, selected “My Computer”, then executed the search. I’m not sure if that’s the reason some of the others haven’t been able to find it.

  13. coleman says:

    2 & 3 combo worked… Thx.

  14. Xander says:

    None worked for me.

    While trying the options and deleting files i deleted s file that i needed.

    After I restored it from the recycling bin, it diapered from there. went into the folder deleted another file and auto update worked. Reboot and its still working.

    So for anyone that the above don’t work try this.

    1. Delete a File
    2. Close Explorer
    3. Go into Recycling Bin though you desktop
    4. Restore the file then go into any folder and delete or move any file and auto update should work. That’s how my explorer got fixed.

    Its been ok now for 1week.

  15. Joseph Young says:

    The bug exist in Windows Server Data Center 2012. It showed up after 2-3 days of having the operating system installed. I have Outlook 2010 x64 also installed and some other applications. It certainly started to occur around the time I started to install Outlook 2010 x64 and the rest of my productivity applications. I wish this were not the case, but I think it was either update related or is specific to Outlook 2010 x64 which is buggy as all hell possibly.

    • Julian says:

      #Joseph Young# Thanks for sharing with our visitors that the Windows refresh problem is also applicable to Windows Server Data Center 2012. πŸ™‚

  16. Suhas says:

    Thanks I tried 3 and work
    3 option and batch file is good…….
    side by side delete all files also on desktop

    change setting in network = open network and sharing center
    click = change advanced sharing setting
    under Home or Work = select turn off network discovery

    its also work…

  17. Michael says:

    I’ve tried all 3 and none work for me! I have Windows 7 32-bit on a Dell Dimension – yes, old I know, but I’ve been running this set-up unchanged since Windows 7 was released and, until last week, have NEVER had this problem. I re-install regularly from an image taken a year ago and I KNOW it works without error! So, what on earth could have changed? Why after 3 plus years has it only just appeared? It can’t be a Microsoft update… I even tried installing with my broadband OFF just in case it was downloading updated installation files… still the same! I am BAFFLED!

    • Julian says:

      #Michael# It is a known bug with Windows 7 (affects both 32 & 64 bit versions) – hence this post. I’ve not been able to confirm a code bug fix from Microsoft nor have I been able to confirm whether it has been fixed in Windows 8. πŸ™

  18. ZK says:

    In the folder window (left side), right click on “Documents” icon under “Libraries”. Then select “General Items” in the pull down menu under “Optimize this library for”.

    Same can be repeated for other libraries e.g. “Music”, “Videos”,…

    • Julian says:

      #ZK# Thanks for the tip πŸ™‚

    • Keith says:

      That did it for me. Darn PPT file was displaying the date created info in the date modified field. Nothing worked but the change to general items. Thanks for posting the tip.

  19. Thomas Hamstrup says:

    Allthough I have the Explorer problem, that is not the worst problem, because it can be solved with a refresh(F5).

    I have a program that copy files/folders from one location to another.
    Before the copy, the program checks if the destination folder contains any files. If so, the user can choose to delete the all content in the destination folder. If the user decides to delete the content,the following happens:

    1) all files in the destination root are deleted.
    2) all files in destination folders are deleted.
    3) all destination folders are left empty and inaccessible.

    If you halt the program at this point and open WindowsExplorer, you will see the empty folders. As soon as the program ends, the folders disappear in WindowsExplorer.

    This situation would present a big problem, if the copy that follows the delete contains one or more of the folder names that were just deleted. The copy would simply fail!

    I have noticed the WindowsExplorer refresh problem since Windows 7, but only recently (now on Windows 8) I wrote the above program, which in my opinion shows that the problem is more than a WindowsExplorer problem.


  20. Tip says:

    Thank you very much Julian. I tried all 3 options and option seemed to work. I will keep monitoring it.
    This problem just happened to me a week ago and it’s really disturbing!

  21. Tip says:

    Hi Julian,

    I would like to ask you one more question. After installing this Windows 7, my pc take time such a long time to switch off. I used to have XP and i didn’t have this problem at all. Many times i have to press the button to turn it off.

    Can you give me some advice?

    Thank you so much in advance.


  22. Q says:

    Thanks, a lot. Option 1 & 3 fixed the problem for me.

  23. Rajeev says:

    Hi Julian sir,
    I would like to ask you one question. After start my laptop (installed Window 7), Last folder or file always selected. When i select another folder or file, cursor on worked.

    Can you give me some advice?


  24. Pavlo says:

    Thank U mr. Evans! Problem resolved on my notebook!
    Your post it’s that, what I exactly need!

  25. Max Pang says:

    Option 3 worked for me! thanks!!

    Searched whole day for a solution and tried many others that didnt work…

    Thanks so much!!

  26. jogama says:

    I had SugarSync installed. I uninstalled it and it fixed it. SugarSync was the culprit.

  27. sam spade says:

    When I delete a picture (*.jpeg) the icon remains in the file folder. If I were to click on this icon, I’m told β€˜file doesn’t exist’ because in actuality it is in the recycle bin. If I β€˜F5’ refresh the page, the icon disappears. This is a new problem for me, in the past the icon has disappeared when I deleted the file. I’m running windows 7, 64 bit. I’ve tried options 1, 2 and 3 with no success. Thanks for any input.

    • Julian says:

      #sam spade# I’m experiencing the same problem with Windows 7 but not Windows 8. I’ve spent some time running various tests and speaking with Microsoft technicians and it appears it is a known bug. I’ve no idea when Microsoft plan to fix this. Frustrating, as you will have to reboot your computer everytime the file and folder problem reappears. πŸ™

  28. Bret says:

    None of the options have worked for me. My situation is a bit strange.
    I can delete from any folder and they will update immediately excluding the Documents\Scanned Documents folder. The really strange this is that it is limited to files. If I delete a folder, it will update immediately. And, of all strangeness, sometimes, not always, 1 file will delete if dragged to the trash can. If I right click, it won’t refresh. Once a file has been dragged to the trash can then the folder will not refesh. All other folders except for the Scanned Documents folder work correctly. This one folder really acts strange.

  29. navidali says:

    thanks really !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Jeff Citizen says:

    I’ve been doing battle with this slow refresh thing for so long, I just about don’t have any hair left to tear out… but tonight something happened that changed the game – I found 3 files in one of my directories that had been dumped there by an Adobe product that had crashed. The 3 files began with tilde+dollar ~$filename. The slow refresh happened every time I went near that directory. Win7 wouldn’t let me delete them and neither would my trusty kill-by-force apps so I booted with MiniXP and that did the trick. Once those files were deleted, I booted back into Win7 and now it flies again. It refreshes instantly. No waiting. Seems like Win7 took exception to the ~$ combination or perhaps the $ in the filename.
    Hope this helps someone.

  31. Jaison says:

    It works, thanks a lot!!!!

  32. Sanita says:

    it works when i tried option 3, thank you sooo much πŸ™‚

  33. Ameya Linge says:

    Hello Julian,

    Glad to see that your solutions worked with everyone. But unfortunately it didn’t worked out for me. The error is as follows:

    C:\Windows\system32>cd/d %userprofile%\AppData\Local

    C:\Users\sony\AppData\Local>DEL IconCache.db/a
    Could Not Find C:\Users\sony\AppData\Local\IconCache.db

    Please help me out!
    And another question, does this problem affect the files present the
    the drives such as games or other software?

    Waiting for your reply.

    Thank you.

  34. Joe says:

    I have a similar issue with my Ipad connected to my PC. I look at the picture file and see the pictures on my ipad. If I take a new picture with my Ipad USB connected the list of pictures in windows explorer woudl refresh and show the pcture I just took. Now I have to connect and disconnect the ipad to see the next picture. Anybody find a fix. It use to work fine untila month ago.

  35. revjarrett says:

    thank you! this worked perfect (option 3)

  36. Avik Sarkar says:

    Hey I am avik . And I am from Bangladesh .I use HP-2000 notebook pc with Windows & professinal operating system . I use Microsoft security Essential antivirus .

    My problem is that When I write in MS Office / Code Blocks / any other Writing software that is automatically get deleted . For Example : If I write On Office ” My name is Avik | ” , the cursor located right beside of ‘ Avik ‘ . After a Second the whole line automatically get deleted even if I don’t press backspace . IF I drag the line to copy then the whole line get deleted . Whats the problem that I really Can’t fix it ?

    Moreover If I click on a file / folder to run / open it it shows Delete prompt ( a Warning Message ) regarding ” Do You want to delete this File / Folder permanently ?” Even it happens on the Desktop Home Page’s icon . When I click on a Software Shortcut / Computer icon It also shows the Same warning message regarding – ” Do You want to delete this File / Folder permanently ? You can retrive it from control panel ( for computer icon ) ” . I cant access now any file / folder without the warning message .

    My question is how can I solve this problem ?? And for what this problem happening ? Is that a problem of hardware / Software .

    Please send a solution quickly . I am in a great trouble . Same problem happens right now when i was writing this note . I am eagerly waiting for the solution .

    Thanks .

  37. marieke says:

    wow thanks…and all this time I was thinking huh…I thought I saved this file just now?!
    Option 1 worked for me πŸ™‚

  38. Appie says:

    Tried almost every suggestion on the net,but nothing helped solving my specific problem.

    After spending several hours myself this fixed it for me:

    Open explorer –> right click on Documents –> in the documents library pane click the Restore Defaults button –> click Apply

    Problem solved πŸ™‚

  39. Thrillee says:

    I don’t know if my problem is exactly what is been issued here, the thing is my PC was working fine but as I downloaded stuff my DL folder became obviously big and full of files (Mainly videos and songs), soon enough some files stopped showing thumbnails after that point the explorer stopped working correctly, I’ve thought I have some virus or something but that’s not the case, if I delete some stuff it starts to work properly again but only after rebooting. Decided to try an external HDD which has a lot of files (over 100GB) and same thing, as soon as I open a folder with lots of files the problems begins and go like this: lets say I have 4 folders in my Ext.HDD 3 have less than a 100 files, I can navigate through the no problems at all, then I enter the folder with thousands of files the load bar (green bar) starts filling somewhat slowly but never fully, the first hundred show thumbnails the rest only the file type icon, if exit and reenter that folder this time many files just show a blank page (no matter which kind of file) but the name of the file still there, some do show thumbnail, some other files show icon but at least 70% of the are blank pages, now if I go back to the folders with less files the same thing: a lot of blank pages, if I keep going back and forth the folders suddenly there is no icons, thumbnails or blank pages !! just the names are there, I can still open them though, the worst thing is after navigate on those folders the hole explorer fails, I cant open any other folder on the PC it just keeps loading forever and nothing appears, even if I press the Windows button + E the explorer opens a windows but shows nothing and the only fix is rebooting and never touch big folders again. I’ve tried a lot of fixes to no avail, tried option 1 and 3 but no dice, the “DontRefresh” registry won’t show anywhere, also tried the delete and restore thing. Any help would be apreciated.

  40. gade srikanth reddy says:

    thank u so much

  41. Peter Kucera says:

    Can you be a little more specific for option 3. I don’t want to mess up my computer. Please answer.

  42. computerkidt says:

    Dang nothing is working

    Option 1 didnt work
    Option 2 couldnt find it
    Option 3 didnt work

    I did have 2 desktop.ini and deleting them fixed it but just temporary.
    Since the issue has come back i’ve checked and there are not any desktop.ini files to delete again soooo back to the drawing board maybe ill retry step 3.

  43. ritesh says:

    Sir please help how can solvesolve my issues…
    When I click any folder/any icon then automatically del. Windows is opened …….plzz help me

  44. Gotty says:

    Clearly this issue is very arcane, and all the different “fixes” are just somehow tickling the underlying issue.

    I have tried everything listed here to no avail.

    Everything has been fine with my Windows 7 Professional ever since it was installed several years ago. But this problem has only appeared in the past week. It doesn’t coincide with any software installation that I’m aware of, but of course there will have been a few automatic updates (but no Windows updates as I don’t let these go ahead without manual intervention).

  45. Michael says:

    Fixed: “Use Malwarebytes Chameleon to run Malwarebytes Anti-Malware when Malwarebytes Anti-Malware won’t run due to infection” (
    I had tried just about everything advised above and on the net iro ‘Windows 7 file and folder refresh problem’.
    I used only Chameleon #1 (it goes up to #13), and now it refreshes.
    I have not made sure everything is perfect, but at this stage all good.

  46. George says:

    Thanks a lot! Worked like a charm.

  47. Frantz says:

    option 1 and 2 didn’t work for me, but option 3 DID

    cheers Julian!

  48. Rogerson says:

    Long Path Fixer presents you with a simple list of files and folders in the current directory (including “hidden” files and folders). You can drag and drop files or folders onto it and it will navigate directly to path of whatever you dropped.

  49. Ozzy Kaghan says:

    Option 3 worked for me. It was really very essential at that moment to me.
    Thanks Julian.
    You’re appreciated.

  50. Jiri says:

    Great thanks.This issue on my pc almost for months getting my hair grey…Option 3 work great..Really thank you !

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