If you are using a Windows 11 PC, at some point you will have to open File Explorer. This Windows app gives you access to your connected drives, cloud locations like OneDrive, network-connected storage devices, and much more.
The File Explorer is the gateway to your data; without it, you cannot find or use your files. If File Explorer crashes, freezes, or stops working altogether, you may have problems. If Windows 11 File Explorer isn’t working, here are some different solutions you can try.
How to fix File Explorer in Windows 11
If the Windows 11 File Explorer app isn’t working, there are a few ways to fix it. We’re going to go over some of the best fixes below.
1. Restart File Explorer
One of the easiest ways to fix a File Explorer app that isn’t working is to restart it. The process is straightforward and does not require a complete PC restart.
To do this, start opening Task Manager and pressing the button More details to enlarge the visible detail (if it isn’t already). You can quickly open the Task Manager with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
In the tab Processes, find and highlight the Windows Explorer and click the button Restart. After reboot, check to see if it keeps freezing or crashing.
2. Clear file browser history
If File Explorer is slow or hangs, you can try clearing its cache. The more an application is used in Windows 11, the more data accumulates. Clearing the cache regularly can improve its performance.
To do this, press the Windows key (or open the Start menu) and type file explorer options. Select the first result (best match) from the top.
In the tab general (in the section Privacy), press the Delete, which is the button visible next to the section “Clear File Explorer history“. Click on To accept to confirm.
3. Restart your PC
There’s a reason IT engineers perform a reboot before trying other solutions. If File Explorer doesn’t work, restart Windows 11. This will erase all running applications and processes, cleaning up active memory and giving your applications (including File Explorer) a fresh start. You should also install any pending updates.
To do this, right-click on the button Beginning and select Shut down or log out> Restart.
Run the system file checker
The tool System File Checker (or SFC for short) is a Windows utility that finds corrupt system files on the local drive. When possible, SFC will restore your Windows files to ensure that your PC (and the File Explorer application) works properly.
To run an SFC analysis, right-click the Start button and click Windows terminal (Administrator). Click on “Yes” to UAC request if it appears.
When the PowerShell terminal window opens, type the following command and press Enter:
The analysis may take a while to complete. When it does, restart your PC and see if File Explorer returns to normal.
5. Check Windows Update
Windows, like all software, is prone to bugs. Microsoft periodically releases bug fixes for Windows 11. One of these errors can cause File Explorer to crash.
To fix this, make sure Windows 11 is up to date. You can check manually for updates when you need them, instead of waiting for them to install in the background automatically.
To do this, open the menu Beginning and press Setting. Please select Windows update and then press Search for updates. Wait for the updates to install (when found) and then restart your PC by pressing the button Restart now.
6. Run system maintenance on the control panel
You can also use the utility System maintenance in the old Control Panel to troubleshoot File Explorer. Although this is an old-school method, it may work for some users.
To use this tool, open the Start menu and type control Panel. Select the top result from the list.
Make sure the options See for at Control Panel are set to “Large icons“. Then click on the option Problem solving.
In the menu Problem resolution, press the option Run maintenance tasks. This appears in the section Security system.
Follow the instructions on the screen to run the wizard. When the tool has finished, restart your PC to see if File Explorer works again.
7. Scan for Malware
A virus or other malicious software could be interfering with File Explorer. Microsoft activates its security software in Windows 11 by default, providing you with up-to-date and real-time protection. Although no protection is 100% perfect, you can manually check for threats with the Windows Security application.
Try running a quick scan by opening the Start menu and typing Windows security; select the result with best match on top. Then press Virus and threat detection> Quick scan.
If you want to perform a different type of analysis, you can customize the analysis options. To do this, open Windows Security (as in the previous case) and press Virus and threat detection> Scan options.
You can select to perform a Complete analisis, a personalized analysis or a Microsoft Defender offline scan. If this doesn’t work, you can try a third-party antivirus.
How to fix Windows 11 problems
If Windows 11’s File Explorer isn’t working, one of these fixes should (hopefully) get you up and running again.