Getting Rid of Thumbs.db

Thumbs.db is a special hidden file Windows XP uses to cache thumbnails for every image and video in a certain folder. By caching these thumbnails, Windows can quickly look up the preview image for a set of folders, images, or videos by consulting the thumbs.db file instead of re-rendering each thumbnail. The first time you look at thumbnails in a media-rich folder, your computer will take longer to display them as Windows is building the database; however, after the first time, it should get much faster.

Understanding thumbs.db

If you're a power user and you often use your computer with hidden files displayed, Thumbs.db files can become quite an annoyance, as Windows creates one for every folder. Fortunately, you can disable this annoying behavior.

Disabling thumbnail caching

As annoyances.org points out, thumbnail caching is easily disabled in through the control panel. Access your computer's control panel by choosing Start, then Control Panel. Open the "Folder Options" utility, and choose the View tab. Disable the "Cache thumbnails" option.

Windows Explorer will display folders contents as a thumbnail tile or filmstrip whenever it finds a "thumbs.db" file in the folder. This can be solved by deleting all "thumbs.db" files on your system. Choose Start, then Search. Select the "All files and folders" option. Ensure that the "Look in:" field shows the "Local Hard Drives" option. Under "More advanced options", ensure "Search system folders", "Search hidden files and folders", and "Search subfolders" are selected. Type "thumbs.db" as the file name, and press Search. Delete any results.

Optimizing performance with thumbnail caching disabled

Once you've disabled thumbnail caching, your computer will become sluggish whenever you view a media-rich folder in thumbnail or filmstrip mode. To avoid this, it's a good idea to set all of your folders to display in "List" or "Details" mode. Accomplish this by opening the My Computer window and first choosing View, then Details. Next, choose Tools, then Folder Options. Select the View tab. Press the button labeled "Apply to All Folders".

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