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Windows 7: Thumbnail Cache - Enable or Disable



Thumbnail Cache - Enable or Disable

How to Enable or Disable the Thumbnail Cache in Windows
Published by Brink
22 May 2009
Default Thumbnail Cache - Enable or Disable

How to Enable or Disable the Thumbnail Cache in Windows


information   Information
By default Windows stores the images for thumbnail previews in cache memory so that it can redisplay the images quickly each time you reopen a folder in Windows Explorer. However, with thumbnail caching enabled by default, this may pose a security issue with some people or companies since all of the thumbnail picture view images stored in the thumbnail cache can be view by anyone.

This will show you how to enable or disable thumbnail views from being cached in thumbs_*.db files, and force Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 to load the thumbnail picture views each time you reopen a folder.

You must be logged in as an administrator to be able to do the steps in this tutorial.

Note   Note
The thumbnail cache thumbs_*.db database files are stored at the hidden system folder below:

C:\Users\User-Name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer

warning   Warning
When the thumbnail cache is disabled, it may cause a delay when opening folders while the thumbnail picture views are loaded from the hard disk instead of the thumbnail cache.
Tip   Tip
If you like you can use the free ThumbCacheViewer program to automatically detects the thumbnail caches present on your computer, and lets you view all the thumbnail images in each cache.

This way you can verify that your thumbnails are gone or not.

Name:  thumbcache1.jpg
Views: 23624
Size:  18.4 KB







OPTION ONE
To Enable or Disable Thumbnail Caching using a REG File

NOTE: This option is recommended to use and is more thorough than OPTION TWO below.
1. To Enable Thumbnail Caching for All Users
A) Click/tap on the Download button below to download the file below.
Enable_Thumbnail_Cache.reg
download
B) Go to step 3.
2. To Disable Thumbnail Caching for All Users
A) Click/tap on the Download button below to download the file below.
Disable_Thumbnail_Cache.reg
download
3. Save the .reg file to your desktop.

4. Double click/tap on the downloaded .reg file to merge it.

6. Click/tap on Run, Yes, Yes, and OK when prompted.

7. Log off and log on, or restart the computer to apply.

8. When done, you can delete the downloaded .reg file if you like.



OPTION TWO
To Enable or Disable Thumbnail Caching in Group Policy
1. Open the all users, specific users or groups, or all users except administrators Local Group Policy Editor for how you want this policy applied.

2. In the left pane, click/tap on the arrow to expand User Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, and on Windows Explorer (Windows 7) or File Explorer (Windows 8). (See screenshot below)
Thumbnail Cache - Enable or Disable-gpedit-1.jpg
3. In the right pane of Windows Explorer (Windows 7) or File Explorer (Windows 8), double click/tap on Turn off caching of thumbnail pictures to edit it. (See screenshot above)

4. To Enable Thumbnail Caching
A) Select (dot) Not Configured or Disabled. (See screenshot below step 6)

B) Go to step 6.
5. To Disable Thumbnail Caching
A) Select (dot) Enabled. (See screenshot below step 6)
6. Click/tap on OK. (See screenshot below)
Name:  Properties.jpg
Views: 40747
Size:  90.2 KB
7. In the right pane of Windows Explorer (Windows 7) or File Explorer (Windows 8), double click/tap on Turn off the caching of thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db files to edit it. (see screenshot below step 2)

8. Do step 4 or 5 above, and go to step 9 below.

9. Close the Local Group Policy Editor. (See screenshot below step 2)

10. Log off and log on, or restart the computer to apply.
That's it,
Shawn








Published by
23 Jan 2011   #1
Ten98

Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit
 
 

You have missed the point that when browsing a network share with write permission, for some reason Windows 7 does not store the thumbs.db in Appdata. Instead it creates a hidden thumbs.db inside the folder containing the files like Windows XP used to...

Part 1 and Part 2 in your guide do different things

Part 1: Disables all local thumbnail caching, and I'm not really sure if it affects remote network shares.

Part 2: disables thumbnail caching on remote shares only.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Jan 2011   #2
Brink
Microsoft MVP

64-bit Windows 8.1 Enterprise
 
 

Hello Ten,

This tutorial is meant for use on a person's single local computer, and not over a remote network.

Thank you for the additional information though.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jun 2011   #3
o770

Seven Home Premium x64
 
 

Quote:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
"NoThumbnailCache"
"DisableThumbnailCache"

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
"NoThumbnailCache"
"DisableThumbnailCache"

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
"DisableThumbnailCache"
"NoThumbnailCache"

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
"DisableThumbnailCache"
"NoThumbnailCache"
Hello there. If possible for someone with the Local Group Policy Editor to verify, which of the entries at the top does disabling cache for all users/computer actually create? Thanks!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


16 Jun 2011   #4
Brink
Microsoft MVP

64-bit Windows 8.1 Enterprise
 
 

Hello o770, and welcome to Seven Forums.

Group Policy adds this entry below into the registry when enabled. The REG files available for download are the same for this, but they also include the other options to do this in them as well to be extra thorough to make sure they work no matter what method was used.

Code:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
"NoThumbnailCache"=dword:00000001
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Dec 2011   #5
terry60

Windows 7 Enterprise x64
 
 
Did this actually work ?

I tried disabling Windows 7 thumb caching, both using GPE and Regedit, and subsequently used Linux to remove the thumb folders completely, but a Windows 7 reboot would immediately recreate the folders, and viewing images would immediately repopulate them with thumbs.
The only way I could prevent Windows 7 recreating them was to remove system privileges from the folders and make them read only for my own userID.
That finally created a situation in which no thumbnail cache appears to exist, and a "disk cleanup" on the Windows 7 partition finds no thumbnails to remove, but in truth, there must be another cache somewhere.
Proof of this is simple to demonstrate on my PC, where I can view thumbs which were created when I scanned colour negatives. These scans were reversed, edited, cropped and saved, so in theory, viewing thumbs of these images, should dynamically recreate a thumb of a positive cropped image, but in fact a negative uncropped thumb will appear for an image which hasn't existed for several years in that form.
In the years since these ghost thumbs were created, the cache has been "cleaned" out multiple times, removed, recreated, removed again, disabled and apparently no longer exists, and yet there they still are.
All thumbs.db files from XP and Vista versions of the same image folder based caches were also scrubbed from the system, and yet they're still being conjured up from somewhere !
There's a longer, detailed discussion in another forum, with attached proof of my ghost thumbs existing despite total absence of any official cache, but I haven't linked it, not wishing to infringe site etiquette as a new poster.
I'm a long-time mod in the other place, and can link it if required.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Dec 2011   #6
Brink
Microsoft MVP

64-bit Windows 8.1 Enterprise
 
 

Hello Terry, and welcome to Seven Forums.

Sorry, if I may have misunderstood you, but.....

Disabling the thumbnail cache doesn't stop thumbnails from being created or loaded. It only make Windows load the thumbnails in memory on the fly each time instead of from the preloaded cache.

Could you post a screenshot showing this?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Dec 2011   #7
terry60

Windows 7 Enterprise x64
 
 

Hi Shawn, thanks for the reply.
All the images demonstrating this can be found here in the thread I mentioned.
The Windows 7 cache(s), as I said no longer exist. The .user\myname\appdata\....\explorer folder now contains just a couple of startuplog.etl files and absolutely no .db files. The picture folders themselves contain no .db files.
Just to emphasize the point, I'll attach one specific example, where you can see a negative has been scanned upside down, turned 180 degrees, colour reversed, cropped and saved.
Despite the fact that the thumbnail cache has been subjected to "disk cleanup", deleted with Ubuntu, prevented from being recreated, and to all intents and purposes just doesn't exist anymore, the thumbnail still remains as originally created.

Where is it picking it up from ?


Attached Thumbnails
Thumbnail Cache - Enable or Disable-ollie.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Dec 2011   #8
Brink
Microsoft MVP

64-bit Windows 8.1 Enterprise
 
 

Terry,

I must admit that I don't know where it may be pulling the thumbnail image from since you have the thumbnail cache disabled, and still after refreshing the window or restarting the computer.

I suppose it wouldn't hurt to rebuild the icon cache as well to test, but I wouldn't think it would come from there though.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Mar 2012   #9
evolved

Win7 64 SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by terry60 View Post
Hi Shawn, thanks for the reply.
All the images demonstrating this can be found here in the thread I mentioned.
The Windows 7 cache(s), as I said no longer exist. The .user\myname\appdata\....\explorer folder now contains just a couple of startuplog.etl files and absolutely no .db files. The picture folders themselves contain no .db files.
Just to emphasize the point, I'll attach one specific example, where you can see a negative has been scanned upside down, turned 180 degrees, colour reversed, cropped and saved.
Despite the fact that the thumbnail cache has been subjected to "disk cleanup", deleted with Ubuntu, prevented from being recreated, and to all intents and purposes just doesn't exist anymore, the thumbnail still remains as originally created.

Where is it picking it up from ?
Hi Terry,

I created an account just to reply to your quandry, because I'm almost certain that I know whats going on here. Almost all (but not 100%) of the popular image formats allow for embedded metadata and embedded thumbnails. The concept is that for larger files thumbnail generation could be time consuming, so by embedded a thumbnail in the image the image can be quickly previewed etc.
The embedded thumbnail needs to be regenerated when modifying an image with an embedded thumbnail, for example if you edit a jpeg file with a embedded thumbnail (btw: JPEG File Interchange Format - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and they discuss this a bit), and you make visual changes to it, the thumbnail should be updated by your editing software when you save the file.

Long story shorter - Not all photo editing software, especially command line tools and automated cropping and rotating scripts update embedded thumbnails, and even in photoshop when you edit a photo you can tell photoshop to not update the embedded thumbnail, in which case you will get what you see in your example.

An image with an older version thumbnail that does not visually agree with the full image content of the file.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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