Have you been looking through folders of images or videos and ever noticed the Thumbs.db file seems to be in every folder? Have you been annoyed by the fact that when you copy a file you get prompted that the Thumbs.db file is read-only or that it already exists?
If you’re using Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, you’ve probably noticed this before. Even if you’ve received folders of media from somebody that is using either of those operating systems, you probably have some of these files lingering about. In order to see the Thumbs.db files, you probably have ‘Show hidden files and folders’ and ‘Show extensions of known file types’ enabled. For some folders, like My Documents, you may need to have ‘Hide Protected Operating System files’ unchecked in the Folder Options.
What is it?
The Thumbs.db is a file automatically generated by Windows to cache thumbnails it produces of certain media files. The previews of images and videos inside a folder are cached in this file to allow Windows to create the thumbnails faster, the next time you open that directory.
Can I get rid of them?
Yes, you can safely delete thumbs.db files. They will be automatically regenerated by Windows next time you browse the folder from which it was deleted.
Should I get rid of them?
Probably not. Caching should speed up the time it takes for Windows to open a folder and show the thumbnails. If files change, they have to be updated anyways. There’s no big loss if the files are gotten rid of
If you don’t even use thumbnail views in your folders, there’s no point to have this extra annoying file. If you would like to stop Windows from creating a cache file for the thumbnails (thumbs.db), open an Explorer window or any folder. Go to Tools, Folder Options… Switch to the View tab and scroll down to where there is the option ‘Do not cache thumbnails.’
Hit Ok and you should be in the clear. You may still end up with some of these files if you receive image folders from others. It seems that Vista, Server 2008, and assumedly Windows 7 are past this annoying additional file.