Friday, May 1, 2009

The case of slow Windows Explorer with large number of files…

There’s always one of those cases when your Windows is getting really slow exactly when you don’t need that, you already have your own work problems and now this. You get angry and start thinking not very pleasant things to say to all those hundreds of people they’ve been working on Windows and come up with lots of ways to punish MS by boycotting their software blah blah all and all that.

Well, it just happens that sometimes is not their fault at all :-) Really? :-) Yeah, sometimes. In my case, we have been processing a lot of customer data lately and that gave us a few good hundred thousand of XML files, which sometimes we have to use Windows Explorer to move around, search or delete. You might say there are better file managers out there, and I’ve tried a few like Total Commander and Free Commander, but they were pretty much as fast and they managed to hang pretty much like Windows Explorer did.

I beared it as long as I could and then it stroke me, what if Explorer is doing more than it should? This is where FileMon enters the stage – I used the opportunity to say a big thanks to to Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell for writing it and making it available to us all, for free.

And what do you know, after selection a bunch of files using CTRL+A (no problems there), for operations like CTR+C or right-click on the list, or even after you push the delete icon and when it says “Preparing to delete”, there’s a REALLLY LOOOOONG list of lookups on C:\Program Files\WinRAR\formats\ directory! what?! So all this time, I’ve been swearing at the wrong bunch :-)

Uninstalled WinRAR 3.80 and performed the same tests, and the difference in responsiveness is huge, given the large number of files I was working with. I’ll try to follow this up with WinRAR guys, but I guess it’s back to compressed (zip) folders for now :-)

Update 05 May 2009:

Reported the problem to WinRAR last week and Eugene Roshal, the author of WinRAR, answered the problem promptly and made a few changes in WinRAR 3.90 beta 1 - things are looking much better now!

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