When Windows 10 thumbnails seem to be missing or slow to load, try this

Never wait for Windows to render previously created thumbnails ever again.

Windows 10 Thumbnails

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

David upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 only to find his thumbnail cache was constantly being deleted.

If you’re always opening folders with new content in them, you generally expect Windows to take a bit of time to generate thumbnail previews for each folder because it’s looking at them for the first time.

Windows 10 thumbnail cache

The location of your thumbnail cache. 

When you’re opening up folders you’ve previously opened, Windows should be able to display the thumbnail icons very quickly, as it stores the images it uses on your hard drive.

However, I’ve seen the problem David describes. I’ve opened a lot of the same folders over and over and have experienced massive delays in the rendering of the thumbnails.


Advanced permissions - fun stuff. 

Like David, I have a lot of PDF files and JPEGs, and without the thumbnail I can’t do anything with the files until I can see what I’m working with.

It appears that Windows deletes the cache, or deletes part of it. Here’s how to prevent Windows from ever deleting anything in the thumbnail cache folder ever again. 

Step 1: Open File Explorer. From the main menu select View. In the menu ribbon that appears, find the checkbox for Hidden Items toward the right side, and check that box.

Next, move your cursor to File Explorer’s text bar. In the text bar, type this file path, substituting your Windows user name for “accountname” where shown: C:\Users\accountname\Appdata\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer.

Now you’ve arrived at the location of your thumbnail cache. Next, select Properties.

Step 2: In Explorer Properties, go to Permissions for SYSTEM and click Advanced.

Step 3: In Advanced Security Settings for Explorer click Add to add a new permission.

Editing permissions

Here we add a new control set for the system.

Step 4: Click Select a Principal at the top and type SYSTEM. You can click Check Names and it’ll make sure your name is correct.

System permissions

Changing the powers of the “system” - feels good, don’t it?

Step 5: Select Deny in the drop-down menu at the top (leaving Applies to this folder, subfolders, and files as-is). Click Show advanced permissions on the right and check these two; uncheck the rest. Click OK. Reboot just for good measure.

Selecting the deny power

Make sure to select “deny” here.

You’re done! Windows no longer has the power to delete anything in that folder, so you should be all set.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon