How to Fix File Explorer Not Working in Windows 11

File Explorer serves as the primary tool for navigating files, folders, and drives in the Windows operating system. However, encountering issues with File Explorer not working in Windows 11 can disrupt productivity and cause frustration.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into common reasons behind File Explorer problems and provide detailed solutions to address them effectively, ensuring smooth file management for users.

Why is File Explorer Not Working in Windows 11?

When File Explorer encounters issues, users may experience various problems such as slow performance, unresponsive windows, frequent crashes, or the inability to access files and folders.

These issues can arise due to various factors, including system glitches, corrupted system files, outdated drivers, conflicting software, or incorrect settings. Identifying the root cause is essential for implementing the appropriate solutions to restore File Explorer functionality.

Several factors may contribute to File Explorer issues in Windows 11. Understanding these potential causes is crucial for effective troubleshooting. Some common reasons include:

System Glitches: Temporary system glitches or errors may cause File Explorer to malfunction, leading to issues such as unresponsive windows or crashes.

Corrupted System Files: Corrupted or missing system files essential for File Explorer operation can result in various problems, including File Explorer not opening or crashing.

Outdated Drivers: Outdated or incompatible device drivers, especially those related to storage or graphics, may interfere with File Explorer functionality.

Conflicting Software: Third-party software or background processes may conflict with File Explorer, causing it to become unresponsive or crash.

Incorrect Settings: Misconfigured settings within File Explorer or Windows settings may lead to issues such as missing icons, slow performance, or the inability to access certain features.

Fix File Explorer Not Working in Windows 11

Resolving File Explorer issues in Windows 11 requires a systematic approach to diagnose and address the underlying causes effectively. The following troubleshooting steps are designed to help users restore File Explorer functionality:

1. Restart File Explorer

A simple restart of File Explorer can often resolve minor issues and restore normal functionality. Follow these steps to restart File Explorer:

  1. Right-click on the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Select “Task Manager” from the context menu.
  3. In the Task Manager window, scroll down and locate “Windows Explorer” under the “Processes” tab.
  4. Right-click on “Windows Explorer” and select “Restart” from the context menu.

After restarting File Explorer, check if the issue persists.

2. Run System File Checker (SFC) Scan

Running an SFC scan can help detect and repair corrupted system files that may be causing File Explorer issues. Follow these steps to perform an SFC scan:

  1. Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type “cmd” and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open Command Prompt as an administrator.
  3. In the Command Prompt window, type the following command and press Enter:
sfc /scannow
  1. Allow the scan to complete, which may take some time.
  2. After the scan is finished, restart your computer and check if File Explorer is functioning correctly.

3. Perform DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) Scan

If the SFC scan does not resolve the issue, you can perform a DISM scan to repair potentially corrupted system files. Follow these steps to perform a DISM scan:

  1. Open Command Prompt as an administrator as described in Step 2.
  2. In the Command Prompt window, type the following command and press Enter:
DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  1. Allow the scan to complete, which may take some time.
  2. After the scan is finished, restart your computer and check if File Explorer is functioning correctly.

4. Update Device Drivers

Outdated or incompatible device drivers can cause File Explorer issues in Windows 11. Follow these steps to update device drivers:

  1. Right-click on the Start button and select “Device Manager” from the context menu.
  2. In the Device Manager window, expand the categories to find the devices related to storage, graphics, and other relevant components.
  3. Right-click on each device, select “Update driver,” and follow the on-screen instructions to search for and install updated drivers.
  4. After updating the drivers, restart your computer and check if File Explorer functions correctly.

5. Check for Windows Updates

Ensure that your Windows 11 system is up-to-date with the latest updates and patches from Microsoft. Follow these steps to check for Windows updates:

  1. Open the Settings app on your Windows 11 system.
  2. Click on “Windows Update” in the left sidebar.
  3. Click on “Check for updates” and follow the on-screen instructions to download and install any available updates.
  4. After installing the updates, restart your computer and check if File Explorer continues to have issues.

6. Perform Clean Boot

Performing a clean boot can help identify and eliminate software conflicts that may be causing File Explorer issues. Follow these steps to perform a clean boot:

  1. Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type “msconfig” and press Enter to open the System Configuration utility.
  3. In the System Configuration window, go to the “Services” tab and check the box next to “Hide all Microsoft services.”
  4. Click on “Disable all” to disable all non-Microsoft services.
  5. Go to the “Startup” tab and click on “Open Task Manager.”
  6. In Task Manager, disable all startup programs by right-clicking on each one and selecting “Disable.”
  7. Close Task Manager and click on “OK” in the System Configuration window.
  8. Restart your computer and check if File Explorer is functioning correctly.

7. Perform System Restore

If the issue persists after trying the above steps, consider using System Restore to revert your Windows 11 system to a previous state where File Explorer was working correctly. Follow these steps to perform a System Restore:

  1. Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type “rstrui.exe” and press Enter to open the System Restore wizard.
  3. Click on “Next” and select a restore point from the list of available options.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the restoration process.
  5. After the restoration is complete, restart your computer and check if File Explorer starts working.

Conclusion

File Explorer is a critical component of the Windows operating system, and encountering issues with it not working in Windows 11 can be frustrating. However, by following the troubleshooting steps outlined in this guide, users can diagnose and resolve File Explorer problems effectively.

Whether the issue stems from system glitches, corrupted system files, outdated drivers, conflicting software, or incorrect settings, implementing the appropriate solutions can help restore File Explorer functionality. With patience and attention to detail, users can overcome File Explorer issues and enjoy seamless file management on their Windows 11 systems.

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