Windows Vista has a bug where when copying, moving, transferring or deleting files or folders, the file operation may take a very long time and very slow to complete. The slow file copy, move or delete operations problem especially obvious on large files, where transfer rate is extremely slow, causing Windows Vista users have to wait for the process to complete, which took much longer time when compared with the same file operation process in Windows XP. To make matter worse, during the initial starting stage of file operation process, a “Calculating time remaining” progress bar and blurb message appears, further slowing down the entire file copying, moving and deletion process, and even makes system to stall, hang and stop responding.

The symptom happens no matter what method you use – copy and paste, cut and paste, drag and drop, or “Send To” – and occurs not only between folders on same local hard disk, between partitions on local disk or between different IDE PATA or SATA disks on local computer, but also on external USB portable disk, USB flash drive, mirrored drives, mapped drives, shared folders and disk drives on remote computer connected via cable network or WiFi connection. Sometimes, if the files affected are images or photos, Vista appears to generate the thumbnails or validate the DRM for each file it was going to delete/copy/move before actually doing the deletion/copying/moving.

There is no certain known cause or reason why the slowness can happen, and Microsoft certainly does not help to resolve the issue. There are a few fixes and solutions that work to some extent for some system and make copying or moving files faster to certain degrees for other users. Vista users who consistently facing problem when copying or moving files in Windows Vista may try any of the possible resolutions listed below to see if the problem been solved, at least as a workaround to the problem while waiting for final fix from Microsoft, or Service Pack 1 (SP1).

Solution 1: KB938979 Windows Vista Performance Update

One of two update hotfixes from Microsoft for Windows Vista that has symptom above described in the list of bugs been fixed – when you copy or move a large file, the “estimated time remaining” takes a long time to be calculated and displayed. Other than calculating estimated time remaining bug, KB 938979 update also addresses many other speed issues in Windows Vista and worth installing to improve Windows Vista performance.

Solution 2: KB931770 Hotfix

Another official update from Microsoft is KB931770 hotfix which intends fix a bug where copying files from network place will stop at “Calculating Time Remaining” dialog window showing “0 minutes remaning” status, but unable to finish the copying process automatically. The hotfix may also works to resolve other slow file copying or moving issues in Windows Vista.

Solution 3: Turn Off Remove Differential Compression

Remote Differential Compression (RDC) allows data to be synchronized with a remote source using compression techniques to minimize the amount of data sent across the network. Disable and turn off Remove Differential Compression feature in Windows Vista may provide a solution to slow file copy, file move or file delete bug.

How to Disable Remove Differential Compression in Vista

  1. Click on Start button, then go to Control Panel.
  2. Click on Programs link.
  3. Under Programs & Features section, select Turn Windows Features on or off link.
  4. Unselect (untick) Remote Differential Compression checkbox.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Wait for the feature to be deactivated.
  7. When done, restart computer.

Solution 4: Disable TCP/IP “Receive Window Auto-Tuning” and/or “Receive Side Scaling”

Windows Vista TCP AutoTuning function is new feature of new TCP/IP stack in Windows Vista that tunes and optimizes TCP receive window size for each network connection for optimum download/upload speed, while Receive Side Scaling (RSS) allows the network load from a network adapter to be balanced across multiple CPUs. However, the implementation is not always goes the intended way, and many has disable TCP Auto Tuning to solve issues such as slow multi thread download speed and various Internet browsing problems. This workaround can also solve file copy/move slowly bug.

How to Disable Windows Vista TCP AutoTuning and Receive Side Scaling

  1. Open an elevated command prompt with administrator rights.
  2. Type the following commands and press Enter (the second command on RSS is optional):
    netsh interface tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled
    netsh interface tcp set global rss=disabled
  3. Reboot computer.

Solution 5: Use Alternative Copying or Moving File Operation Engine

Windows Vista file operations using Windows Explorer on desktop may be broken, but not with other utilities that come built-in with Windows Vista. Robocopy is a robust command line file copy program that perform efficiently, and fast. It now also has Robocopy GUI to use on desktop.

Other standard copying commands such as “xcopy” and “copy” still complete the file operations in fastest time possible. You can also opt for third party programs such as TeraCopy that able to copy and move files faster at the maximum possible speed. The freeware (no longer free) also supports shell integration and can completely replace Explorer copy and move functions, allowing you work with files as usual.

Solution 6: Turn Off Windows Search

This method is unconfirmed, but worth a try if none else is working. Open Services applet in Control Panel or type Services.msc in Start Search, then go to Properties of Windows Search and set the Startup Type to Disabled. Windows Search is the component to run indexing services in Windows Vista.

Solution 7: Turn Off Indexing Services

Similar to above, but you can opt to try excluding indexing service for certain locations in Indexing Options in Control Panel, or simply disable and turn off indexing for a certain drive or enable it only for selected folders via the Properties of a drive or folder.

Solution 8: Disable Thumbnail Preview

When you open a folder in Windows Vista with Windows Explorer, the system will generate a preview thumbnail for almost every files. This mechanism may slow down the file operation process, especially when you want to delete the files, where Windows Vista looks like so dumb that it’s creating thumbnail first before performing operation. To disable thumbnail preview feature, check the checkbox next to Always show icons, never thumbnails in the Folder and Search Options.

Solution 9: Turn Off IPv6 Support

Windows Vista installs and enables implementation of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) by default. If you’re not using IPv6 which is not yet common, you can try to disable IPv6 support in Windows Vista to see if it solves the slowness problem. To disable IPv6 on your Internet network connection, go to Network Connections folder, obtain properties of the connection and clear the check box next to the Internet Protocol version 6 (TCP/IPv6) component in the list under This connection uses the following items. This method disables IPv6 on your LAN interfaces and connections

To disable IPv6 on tunnel interfaces or the IPv6 loopback interface, go to Device Manager under System Properties in Control Panel, then click the View menu and select Show hidden devices. Right click on now-shown Teredo Tunneling Pseudo-Interface listed under Network and disable it.

Solution 10: Microsoft Workarounds for Slow Large Files Transfer between Windows Vista and 2003 or XP Computer

Microsoft provides various methods to work around a problem where whenu users copy large files to or from earlier operating systems, the copy operation may be slower than expected on some Windows Vista-based computers. Check out the workarounds here, including close navigation pane and use mapped network drive.

Solution 11: Drivers Update

Old and incompatible drivers may cause issue with slow or corrupt data transfer. So, one of the best solution is to check the motherboard manufacturer’s website for any BIOS update and system chipsets drivers. For example, if your board is using VIA northbirdge and southbridge platform chipsets, try to download latest VIA Hyperion 4-in-1 drivers update package (no longer available), drivers package for nVidia/nForce platform, or for Intel chipset, latest INF update utility.