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Optimize or Disable Windows Search Indexing: Vista Tips

written by: Dianna Monda Dill•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 2/19/2009

This step-by-step Windows Vista tutorial provides instruction on how to speed up system performance by optimizing or disabling Vista's windows search indexing feature.

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    Vista comes with a desktop indexing service that is developed to make Window's search function faster and easier. The Windows index contains information on the most common files on your computer, including your personal files (e.g. Documents, Music, and Pictures). When you perform a search, Windows will scan this index first, rather than look through the entire hard disk for it. This shortens the search time to a fraction of what it would otherwise be.

    By default, the indexing service will constantly scan your files and folders, indexing them so that they will be readily available when you need to do a quick search. It runs quietly in the background, accessing your hard disc and system resources.

    Unlike most other desktop search tools, this service does not wait until your PC is idle to index your hard drive. It will be active even as you work on other tasks, significantly lowering system performance. What's more, the more files you have, and the more these files change, the heavier the load is placed in the indexing service. By extension, the indexing service will be more demanding of system resources, which slows down your system.

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    Tip #5 Adjust Indexing Options to Boost Performance

    By narrowing the focus of the search function to specific files that you most commonly use, you can free up much-needed RAM and gain a noticeable boost of speed. If you do not search your C: drive, for example, you do not really need it to be indexed. This may slow down your future searches of un-indexed files, but the increase in performance may be worth it. Here's how:

    1. Click on the Start button, and then select Control Panel.
    2. Click System and Maintenance in the Control Panel window.
    3. Click Indexing Options in the left-hand pane.
    4. Click Modify and then Show all locations. If prompted, enter a password or provide confirmation.
    5. Uncheck each location that you do not want to be indexed. Uncheck rarely searched folders as well as shared folders.
    6. Click OK once you are done.
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    Tip #6: Change Startup Options for Windows Indexing

    Alternatively, you may change the Startup options for Windows Indexing, so that it only starts up and runs when you actually perform a search. Here's how:

    1. Click on the Start button, and then select Control Panel.
    2. Click Administrative Tools in the Control Panel window.
    3. Click Service. This opens the Services window.
    4. Locate the service named: Windows Search. Right-click on this entry and select Properties from the drop-down menu that opens.
    5. Change the Startup Type to Manual in the properties box.
    6. Press the OK button and reboot your computer.

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    Or disable the Windows Indexing feature completely

    If you do not use this service, you can disable it altogether by turning it off. Here's how to do it:

    1. Click on the Start button, and then select Control Panel.
    2. Click Administrative Tools in the Control Panel window.
    3. Click Service. This opens the Services window.
    4. Locate the service named: Windows Search. Right-click on this entry and select Properties from the drop-down menu that opens.
    5. Change the Startup Type to Disabled. Now click on the Stop button and then click OK. This will completely disable the Windows Indexing Service.
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    TIPS

    • Once you disable Indexing, you can still use Windows Search - the searches will simply take more time.
    • If you want to include a particular folder but not all of its folders, then expand the folder and uncheck each sub-folder that you don't want indexed.
    • The Start menu does not take up much time, so it is not worth removing it.
    • Consider using Google Desktop Search, which may be lighter on system resources.
    • Click here for more information on the Windows Indexing Service