There’s an ongoing conversation about whether to disable Windows search indexing or keep it running. Microsoft introduced the indexing service in Windows 2000 and hasn’t thought about dropping it.
While you had to enable it in Windows 2000, it now comes enabled by default.
So, if you’re one of those who are against the service, you’ll have to disable it. Thankfully, this article shows you how to do that.
However, if you’re wondering whether you should disable indexing or not, you’re also in the right place. We’ll explain the concept of Windows search indexing and tell you when it’s ideal to keep or disable the feature.
What is Windows Search Indexing?
Windows search indexing allows your computer to pull up search results faster.
When Windows builds an index, it registers information for email messages, files, documents, and other content on your PC. The info it catalogs for the index includes things like metadata and words.
After that process, your PC refers to the index whenever you run a search. So, for example, if you’re looking for a file, Windows checks its indexed information and pulls it up instead of going through your hard drive.
Should I Disable Windows Search Indexing on Windows 10?
Windows attempts to track all the changes on your computer to keep its index catalog up to date. So, whenever you create or delete a file, the indexing service notes the changes. The same goes for new downloads and app installation and uninstallation.
The constant indexing may use up processing power and slow down your computer. Also, depending on the type, number, and size of files on your computer, indexing may take up a significant chunk of your hard drive.
That said, you may still need indexing if you always rely on Windows search to locate files and documents. You should also consider that indexing has other uses.
For example, Outlook uses indexed data to search your emails. Microsoft Edge uses it to display browser history results when you type in the address bar. In addition, the Settings app depends on it to show up-to-date results.
More so, some apps you download through the Microsoft store rely on indexed data to search for your files and other PC content.
Disabling indexing will increase the time it takes for Windows and other apps to return search results.
So, if you have a fast CPU and a standard hard drive, you can keep indexing on. Since hard drives are slow to read, Windows will take longer searching for files without indexed data. And with a fast CPU, you won’t have to worry about continuous background indexing.
However, if you don’t rely on search a lot, are using a slow CPU and an SSD, it will be a good idea to turn indexing off.
Windows can quickly look up files on SSDs since these drives are fast.
Search Indexing uses your RAM and CPU, so you have to turn off the feature if your RAM is low and your CPU is slow.
You might be considering disabling search indexing because you believe it’s the reason for your system’s poor performance. While that may be true, it’s not always the case. Your computer could be running slow for lots of other reasons.
For example, the accumulation of junk files could clog your hard drive, unnecessary background applications could weigh down your CPU and RAM, and leftover or faulty registry keys could cause glitches.
Fortunately, you can use an optimizer such as Auslogics BoostSpeed to manage these issues. This way, you don’t necessarily have to turn off indexing. The program deletes junk and bad registry keys and protects your hard drive against spyware.
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So, how do you disable search indexing? Let’s get right to it.
How to Disable Indexing in Windows 10
There are different ways to manage search indexing. If you rely on it, you can limit the amount of system resources it uses. For example, you can disable search indexing for specific folders and drives or partitions.
We’ll show the different ways to disable and modify search indexing.
Disable Windows Search
If you don’t need Windows search, you can disable it. However, once disabled, you will no longer be able to use search functions across the OS. These areas include the Settings app, Microsoft store, Cortana, and the Start menu. It also means Windows will no longer run indexing operations in the background.
So, follow these steps to turn off the service:
- Go to the Start menu and type “services.”
- Click on the Services application’s icon once the search panel brings it up.
- After the Services application opens, scroll down to the Windows Search entry and double-click it.
- The Windows Search Properties window will now open.
- Under the General tab, select Disabled in the Startup Type drop-down.
- Click on the Stop button.
- Click on OK.
- Restart your PC.
Using the Command Prompt
You can enter a code in the Command Prompt to disable the Windows Search service and prevent it from launching at startup.
This method is faster than going through the Services app. However, if you’re not comfortable using the Command Prompt, follow the steps above. You can also move on to the next solution to find a different method.
Follow these steps:
- Open the Run dialog window using the Win + R combo.
- After the Run box opens, type CMD and tap CTRL + Shift + Enter on your keyboard.
- Click on Yes in the pop-up.
- Now, type the line below into the Administrator: Command Prompt window and hit the Enter key.
sc stop “wsearch” && sc config “wsearch” start=disabled
- You can enable Windows Search again using this line:
sc config “wsearch” start=delayed-auto && sc start “wsearch”
- That’s it.
Disable Indexing for Specific Areas
Windows provides the option to turn off indexing for specific folders. So, if there are areas where you don’t use search, you can disable indexing for them. On the other hand, you can keep the feature on for regularly-used folders.
This option allows you to save CPU and RAM resources without completely getting rid of indexing. Also, since the size of indexed data depends on the number and size of files Windows indexes, this option will reduce the storage strain.
So, follow these steps:
- Open the Start menu and type “indexing.”
- Click on Indexing in the search options.
- You can also go through the Control Panel to open the Indexing Options dialog. Tap Win + R to open Run, then type “control panel” in the Run dialog box and hit Enter. After Control Panel opens, go to the top-right corner and select Large Icons in the View By drop-down. Click on Indexing Options.
- Click on Modify in the Indexing Options dialog window.
- Your indexing locations will now show up. Click on Show Locations if you can’t see your hard drive.
- Now, expand your hard drive by clicking on the arrow beside it.
Note: If you click on the checkbox beside the drive, you tell Windows to index the entire drive.
- After expanding the drive, navigate to the folders you don’t want Windows to index and check the boxes beside them.
- After completing your exercise, click on the OK button.
- You’ll see the Included and Excluded locations in the lower segment of the Indexed Locations dialog window.
Disable Windows Indexing by Hard Drive
You can turn off indexing on a particular hard drive or partition if you don’t search for files on it. This substantially reduces the resources indexing takes from your CPU and RAM.
Follow these steps:
- Use the Win + E combo to open the File Explorer.
- Once File Explorer shows up, head over to the left pane and click on This PC.
- Now, click on the hard drive you want indexing turned off for and right-click it.
- Click on Properties.
- Under the General tab, uncheck the box next to “Allow files on this drive to have context indexed” and click on the OK button.
- Windows will ask if you want the changes to apply to the root directory only or all the subfolders in the drive. Choose your option and select OK.
Turn Off Indexing for Microsoft Outlook
As we mentioned, Microsoft Outlook uses indexed data to search for emails. If you don’t want that, you can turn off the feature for the program. And since Outlook doesn’t show up in the Indexed Locations dialog, you’ll have to make the changes in the app.
Here’s how to disable Outlook’s indexing:
- Launch Outlook.
- Click on File and select Options.
- Once you get to the Options screen, go to the left pane and select Search.
- Now, go to the main page and click on Indexing Options.
- The Indexing Options dialog will now show up with Outlook included on the list.
- Next, click on Outlook and click on the Modify button.
- After the Indexed Locations window appears, uncheck the box beside Outlook and click on the OK button.
Rebuild Your Index
If you use search regularly but keep getting slow results, something is wrong with your search index. The problem could be due to a corrupt or malfunctioning index. In this case, you need to rebuild the index.
Follow this guide:
- Open the Start menu and type “indexing.”
- Click on Indexing Options in the search results.
- You can also go through the Control Panel to open the Indexing Options dialog if search is faulty. Tap Win + R to open Run, then type “control panel” in the Run dialog box and hit Enter. After Control Panel opens, go to the top-right corner and select Large Icons in the View By drop-down. Click on Indexing Options.
- Click on Advanced in the Indexing Options dialog window.
- Click on the Rebuild button and select OK.
Remember that you can always reverse your changes if you’re not comfortable with the way your search works. In the end, what matters is up to you. If you don’t mind waiting a few seconds – or minutes – more for your search results to show up, you can do without Windows indexing.