Some of the modern search functionality within the Windows Operating System is absolutely fantastic. I can type fraction of a word and results from my email, start menu and specific locations on my hard drive begin to appear….instantly.
I am certain that there are still folks out there who hear the words “Indexing Service” with reference to windows and automatically repeat the original online cry of “Shut down the Service”… “It will only slow down your computer”. Well, those particular statements have been floating around the net since Windows desktop search was introduced, and as we know…..the internet never forgets.
Modern search functionality is built into windows and not the afterthought add-in that it once was. However under certain circumstance, the indexing service can still fire up and reduce your system performance. Let’s talk about why this happens.
What is the purpose of the Windows Indexing Service?
The purpose of the indexing service is to index and compile a database of files and their locations on your Hard Drive. The premise is that it is far faster to search the index, rather than have windows comb through every individual file on your hard drive. Given this premise, the service has to first build and index – and once built maintain that index when new files are added.
In order to do it’s job properly and allow you to realize the benefits of an indexed search through your start menu or search dialog, the service must be left running…The true question here is how do we minimize the impact of the indexing on our overall performance?
As luck would have it….(or proper program design) we have access to the indexing options within the control panel. To find the indexing options, show all of the small icons within the control panel and choose “Indexing Options”.
Windows Indexing Service Best Practice
The only ability to manage the indexing process for the end user, is by specifying what locations on our Hard Drives get indexed by the service.
You can do this by choosing the “Modify” button and changing the number of folders selected in the listing.
Personally I limit the searches to a very few folders:
- The windows Start menu
- Outlook email folders
- Internet explorer history
- My Downloads folder
- A few disorganized directories that shall remain nameless
Everything else I (attempt to) keep organized in a folder structure on my hard drive so I know where the files are. I know this approach seems a tad old fashioned, however it keeps my indexing service doing exactly what I need it to do, and not cost me any time by affecting other services and applications on my Computer.
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