In Windows 10, File Explorer is able to show small previews for image and video files you have stored on your disk drive. To speed up this process, it uses a cache file hidden in the user profile directory. When a file is cached, File Explorer reuses the thumbnail from the cache to show it instantly. Some users have noticed that Windows 10 deletes the thumbnail cache automatically.
When this happens, File Explorer becomes terribly slow because it takes time again to re-generate the thumbnail for every file and cache it, so the process takes a lot of time and creates a notable CPU load for no reason. This is very unfortunate when you are browsing a folder which contains lots of images.
By default, Windows 10 stores the thumbnail cache in *.db files under the following folder:
C:\Users\you user name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer
Why Windows 10 is deleting the thumbnail cache
Starting with Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, the operating system keeps deleting the thumbnail cache after a restart or a shutdown, so File Explorer has to recreate the thumbnails again for your folders with images.
This happens because of the updated Automatic Maintenance feature. As you may already know, Windows 10 runs a number of maintenance tasks automatically. When enabled, it performs various actions like app updates, Windows updates, security scans and many other things. By default, Automatic Maintenance is set to wake up your PC and run maintenance tasks at 2 AM.
One of the tasks removes temporary files in your %TEMP% directory, temporary Internet files, old driver versions, and the thumbnail cache. It is called "SilentCleanup" and launches the Disk Cleanup tool with a special command line argument, /autoclean. This makes the cleamgr.exe tool read the cleanup presets in the Registry. For every enabled preset, the app performs cleanup on the system drive.
Luckily, it is easy to exclude the thumbnail cache from the cleanup process. This can be done with a simple Registry tweak.
Prevent Windows 10 from deleting the thumbnail cache
To prevent Windows 10 from deleting the thumbnail cache, do the following.
- Open the Registry Editor app.
- Go to the following Registry key.
See how to go to a Registry key with one click.
- On the right, modify or create a new 32-Bit DWORD value Autorun.
Note: Even if you are running 64-bit Windows you must still create a 32-bit DWORD value.
Set its value data to 0.
- If you are running a 64-bit Windows version, you must again set the Autorun value to 0 under another Registry key
- Restart Windows 10.
Tip: This way, you can exclude other caches and files from being removed by Automatic Maintenance.
To save your time, you can download the following Registry files.
Use them to stop Windows 10 from deleting the thumbnail cache or any other locations that you don't want Windows to clean up automatically. The undo tweak is included.
Finally, you can use Winaero Tweaker. To prevent Windows 10 from deleting the thumbnail cache, enable this option:
You can download the app here: Download Winaero Tweaker.
Articles of interest:
- How to repair and clear thumbnail cache in Windows 10
- Find All Automatic Maintenance Tasks in Windows 10
- How To Change Automatic Maintenance Schedule in Windows 10
- How to disable Automatic Maintenance in Windows 10