If you are a user of Microsoft Windows® XP and you have Windows® configured to display hidden files and folders, then you must have seen the thumbs.db files in your folders at one time or another. You may have wondered what this file does, or even gotten yourself worried thinking that it is a virus or worm of some kind. Well, you can relax.

The creation of the file takes place due to the default behavior of Windows® XP, which makes it display thumbnails of files stored in folders. Once the thumbnails have been created (it happens automatically when you open the folder for the first time), XP creates the database file named Thumbs (.db is the extension) to store information about the thumbnails. The process is also called the caching of the thumbnails.

It is possible to delete the file thumbs.db file just like any other file. However, whenever you open the folder the next time, you will see the file present in the folder once more, as XP will simply recreate it. What is bad about the file is that as long as it is present, even if you set the default view of the folder to List, Details, or Tiles, it will simply revert back to thumbnail view again.

It is possible to stop the creation of the file by altering a setting in Windows®. Follow the steps given below to do this:

  1. Open Windows® Explorer.
  2. Click on Tools, and then on Options.
  3. Click on the View tab.
  4. Scroll down the window and uncheck the box besides the setting “Do not cache thumbnails”.
  5. Click on Apply, and then on OK.

Next time you open any folder, you should not see any more Thumbs.db files. However, if you do set your folder view to Thumbnails mode, the folder will display the thumbnails rather slowly, since those will no longer be cached.

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