Categories: SoftwareTips & TricksTroubleshootingWindows

Figuring Out Why Windows 7 Isn’t Auto-Refreshing

I’m assuming you’re here today because your copy of Windows 7 has been behaving in a bit of an odd fashion of late. When you delete files, they remain in the folder for far longer than they should. Whenever you save anything to your hard drive, your system takes an age to react.  Even your desktop isn’t safe from the lag. You can move things about to your heart’s content, but woe betide you if you attempt to create or remove any shortcuts.

You can force your system to recognize the actions you’ve taken by right clicking and selecting ‘refresh,’ but that shouldn’t be necessary.

Instead, you’re left wondering what could be causing such a severe delay in Windows Explorer’s nearly-instantaneous auto-refresh. In that regard, I’ve a spot of bad news for you. This issue doesn’t have a simple, one-size-fits-all fix, as there’s a huge array of possible reasons it might be happening. I’ll go through as many as I can call to mind here, and hopefully at least one of them will be the solution you’re looking for.

First thing’s first, you should ask yourself a single question: when’s the last time you updated your system’s BIOS? What about your device drivers? What about Windows Update?

Having outdated drivers or an obsolete BIOS on your system can actually cause a whole array of issues, while a bit of GUI lag is probably the least of your concerns if you’ve been ignoring Windows Update. I’m going to assume you already know how to update all of that stuff. If you don’t, go here.

Your next step should be to try to reset your folders. Click on Start then type in Folder Options. Head over to the view tab, and click on “Rest Folders,” then apply. Alternatively, you could try turning off File Sharing and checking your Network Locations for any invalid addresses. Both long shots, but they could potentially help.

If that doesn’t fix the issue, your problem might well be linked to third-party software. The next step is to try doing a clean boot of Windows, to see if that solves the problem. In order to do this, first log on to the computer as an administrator. Open up msconfig.exe using the start menu. Once you’re there, simply go down to “Selective startup” and turn off startup items. When your computer starts up again, putz around a bit to see if you’re still having problems. If not, congratulations! You get to spend the next hour or so selectively disabling startup items to determine which piece of software is the culprit (though in my experience, it’s often your antivirus.)

Now, by this point you may be getting a little desperate. Desperate enough, perhaps, to dive into the registry and do a bit of fiddling around? If so, back everything up, because we need to go deeper.

Once you’ve got your registry properly backed up, do a search for ‘refresh’ in your registry files. Under the key that pops up, you should find a subkey titled “DontRefresh.” If it has a value of 1, that means it’s turned on. Change the value to 0, refresh, and save your changes. If you’re still having problems, well…you might need to think about doing a re-install.

Of course, there’s one more possibility as well. You’re not going to like it, though. The last, and least pleasant option  is that your hard drive might be failing. Try running CrystalDiskInfo. If your hard drive health is poor, it’ll tell you as much, in which case…well, best start backing up all your important files.

Admittedly, there’s a chance none of this advice will actually bear fruit. In that case, you’d best swing by the Microsoft Support Forums. Perhaps someone there can help you where I couldn’t.


Nick Greene :