Windows 7 Explorer RAM Usage

Want to see something really neat? Set up a media center with Windows 7, and have it record ~500 tv shows at 1-3GB a piece. Windows Media Center of course dumps all 1.2TB of video files into a single directory, which really shouldn't be a problem.

Now open that folder, and ask Windows Explorer to perform any sort of meta-data operation on all 1.2TB of files.  Just metadata.  For example, I asked Windows to sort these 500 files by date created.  RAM usage took off. Our system went from 1.5/4GB RAM usage to thrashing and completely catatonic in a matter of seconds, to the point where I couldn't even ask Windows to reboot, and had to yank the power cord.  I tried turning off indexing, compression, thumbnails, and anything else I could find in the control panel that at all sounded like it would be expensive on large files.  It still croaks, and I'm stumped.  The exact sequence is:
  • Open Windows Explorer and navigate to this magical huge folder
  • Switch to detailed view
  • Click one of the column headers to have Explorer sort by date or size, etc
  • RAM usage takes off. I saw it go as high at 6GB, but it took ~10 minutes of thrashing to get there. Task Manager nor Resource Monitor will show any processing taking this RAM; it just disappears.

How in the world can Windows 7 not be able to handle 500 files / 1.2TB directory with 4GB of RAM without even blinking?!?

We carefully cleaned out our recorded TV folder down to about half, and performing metadata requests now cause only a 1.5GB RAM usage jump, which hangs around for 5-15 minutes before just disappearing again.  I have no idea why Windows does this, and with >2TB file systems becoming the new norm, I sure hope there will be a solution to this.

Am I missing something? Has someone seen this before? I can't believe I wasn't able to find anything about this online.

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