Fixing the Problem of Slow File Copying in Vista

There is a bug in Windows Vista that slows the common file operations such as file copy, move, or delete. This becomes more noticeable when you are carrying out such file operations on a large file. In the worst cases, the system may even freeze over, and you might have to reboot – undoing the entire file operation that you had started a while ago.
Although the exact cause of this problem is not clearly known, several workarounds are already in circulation. If you are facing this problem and it is becoming a nuisance, you might try any of the following workarounds to see if it solves the problem.

1. Windows update KB938979

Microsoft has released two updates that address the symptoms listed above – and this is one of them. This update is designed to clear out the issue of the ‘time remaining’ dialog taking a long time to kick in during file copying/moving. It is also supposed to take care of several other problems related to speed and performance of Vista – hence it is advisable that you download this patch and get it installed.

2. Windows hotfix KB931770

This hotfix is designed to fix the bug that causes the ‘time remaining’ popup to freeze at ‘0 minutes remaining’. This occurs especially when you are trying to copy a file from a network machine to your PC. The patch also takes care of other file copying issues.

3. Disabling RDC

RDC, or Remote Differential Compression, minimizes the amount of information sent over a network connection by synchronizing your PC with the remote node using compression methods. Turning off RDC in Vista speeds up file copying/moving /deletion over the network.

  • Steps for Disabling RDC
    1. Go to Start -> Control Panel -> Programs.
    3. Now, go to Programs & Features -> Turn Windows Features on or off.
    4. Deselect (uncheck) the checkbox next to Remote Differential Compression.
    5. Press OK.
    6. Wait while RDC is deactivated, and then reboot your PC.

4. Disabling TCP/IP Window AutoTuning

AutoTuning in Vista is responsible for scaling the TCP/IP window size for an optimal upload/download connection bandwidth. However, the deployment of this feature is not proper and it often leads to slow file transfers over the network.

  • Steps for disabling TCP/IP AutoTuning
    1. Open a command prompt with elevated administrator privileges.
    2. Enter the following command at the prompt:

    netsh interface tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled

    3. Restart your PC.

5. Using alternative file copy/move application

Instead of using Windows Explorer, you can try other copying/moving options in Vista – Robocopy, xcopy and copy for example.

Third party applications such as TeraCopy can also serve to be an excellent option to get around the slow file copying problem in Vista.

6. Turning off Indexing

Another smart move is to turn off the indexing service – for this you have to navigate to Indexing Options in the Control Panel. Indexing service can also turned on/off for particular drives/directories using the Properties options in the menu bar of the concerned drive/directory. This will also increase the copy speed.

7. Disabling Thumbnail caching

Opening a folder in Vista with the Windows Explorer leads to the generation of thumbnail database files (thumbs.db) in a centralized database. This is irrespective of the type of icon preview that you have enabled for the folder. This might also slow down file operations – hence you might try disabling it for faster copying speed. Simply go to Folder and Search Options and deselect the Always show icons, never thumbnails option.

8. Disabling IPv6 Support

Windows Vista installs and implements IPv6 support in its default setting. However, the Ipv6 protocol is a burden on your PC’s performance at times and, as its use is not too widespread as yet, disabling it does not affect your networking abilities by much.

  • Disabling IPv6 for a particular network connection
    • Go to Network Connections -> Properties of the particular connection. Under This connection uses the following items, deselect the check-box next to Internet Protocol version 6 (TCP/IPv6).
  • Disabling IPv6 for a tunnel interface
    • Go to Control Panel -> System Properties -> Device Manager.
    • Click on View and select Show hidden devices.
    • Now right-click on Teredo Tunneling Pseudo-Interface shown in the Network tab and select Disable.

9. Workarounds from Microsoft

Microsoft has released several official workaround strategies for the slow file transfer speed issue (especially for large files) over a network. These workarounds deal with the case when you are transferring a file from a Vista PC to an XP- or 2003-based PC over the network connection.

10. Updating Drivers

Sometimes, the slow file copying problem may even arise due to outdated drivers installed on your system. Hence, you should make it a point to keep a tab on the official driver releases of your motherboard (for instance) and update your drivers regularly.

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