Windows is the most popular operating system for desktop and laptop computers, but few people would claim it is the fastest.

Although it is a powerful and robust operating system, some of Microsoft’s otherwise-helpful features have unintended consequences. Additionally, some file structures aren’t well-suited to fast and easy transfer.

Fortunately, none of these issues are intractable. In a few minutes, you can optimize your Windows files and folders for speed and get the most out of your system.

An Easy Fix for Slow-Loading Folders in Windows

One of the most common and frustrating issues that Windows users have concerns opening folders. You may have noticed that even with a powerful computer, certain folders take an extraordinarily long time just to open.

In particular, your Downloads folder is unusually susceptible to this problem. Fortunately, the solution is very simple.

To understand Windows’ problem with slow-loading folders, you have to understand a feature called Automatic Folder Type Discovery. This feature, first introduced in 2007, attempts to optimize folders based on the files they contain.

This is why your Music folder automatically has a file display suitable for music files, and your Pictures folder automatically creates thumbnails of all the images it contains.

However, when it comes to folders that contain multiple different file types – like the Downloads folder – Windows may default to a picture or video file-type display. This creates problems.

If Windows automatically treats a large, diverse folder as a picture or video folder, it will try to look through every single file in the folder and create easy-access thumbnails for each one. It will do this every time you click on the folder, sometimes taking entire minutes to do so.

To change this, all you need to do is right click on the folder and select Properties. From there, enter the Customize tab and select Optimize this folder for. In the attached drop-down menu, select general items and apply the template to all subfolders. Once you hit apply, your folders will open up with like-new speed and consistency.

Optimizing Media Files for Transfer

Another common problem concerns media files – PDFs, video files, and high-resolution images or audio. In particular, some Windows users find that these files transfer very slowly. If you regularly send out large or numerous media files, you have certainly experienced this problem at least a few times.

There are multiple ways to address this issue, depending on the media file in question. One of the most effective general-purpose solutions is to create a zip folder containing whatever files you want to send. This way, instead of sending a large folder with dozens or hundreds of files, you send one compressed file.

What Exactly Are Zip Folders?

Zipping folders makes them use less hard drive space. You can transfer these folders to other computers much faster than unzipped folders.

The zipping mechanism simply compresses file data into a format that takes up less digital storage space. You can’t use a zipped folder as-is, but once you unzip it, the original file pops out exactly as it was.

Technically, this is called file compression and while there are many methods and formats for doing so – RAR is a popular option you may have heard of, for instance – Windows automatically offers zipping and unzipping functionality.

There is another potential benefit to zipping folders before sending them to other computers. Unlike generic files, you can password-protect a zip folder. If you are concerned that unauthorized parties might snoop through your files, password-protect the zip folder to ensure that only individuals you tell the password to can open the folder.

If all of your files are of a single type, tehre are other ways of compressing data for transfer. In particular, PDFs and video files have specific compression protocols:

  • If you are sending PDFs. Instead of creating a zip folder, you can merge multiple PDFs into a single file, called a PDF portfolio. If you aren’t sure how to compress a PDF, Adobe Acrobat makes this simple. There are also numerous third-party applications for the job.
  • If you are sending video files. Videos contain a lot of data. Condensing video files can make transfer occur much faster. Wondershare‘s free video converter makes compressing video files easy, and prevents you from accidentally reducing the quality of the video itself in the process.
  • If you are sending audio files. Large audio files can take up a great deal of storage space. Audacity has automatic tools for compressing audio files into easy-to-transfer formats. These compression algorithms can affect the quality of the audio signal, but only in exceptional cases is the difference noticeable.

These tips and tricks will help you open, send, and receive large files in Windows with ease.

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