How To Enable Or Disable Indexing In Windows 10

The search option on Windows 10 machines can result in high loading times and undue stress on the RAM. This problem is especially persistent when executing search indexing.

The basic purpose of search indexing is to scan all folders for changes in file locations and provide faster access.

And even though it works seamlessly on newer devices, it can cause huge issues in performance on others.

This performance is dependent on several factors like the processor speed, hard drive capability, the selected folders and the files within, and the changes made since the previous indexing process.

Users indirectly inform the Windows Search Service of the locations to be indexed by labeling them as sites searched.

After designating the folder as an indexed site, a notification is sent to the Windows Search Service for updating the index when you modify the folder’s contents.

Furthermore, you can manage your computer’s indexing by removing or adding the indexed location, rebuilding indexes, and specifying types of files for exclusion.

Also, you need to know that encrypted files are not automatically indexed. It has been designed to ensure that protected information is not accidentally made discoverable or available.

Indexing does not necessarily modify your files; it just forms a virtual index of your computer’s content. This is how desktop search works and how it finds folders and files quickly.

It just goes through the index created, then provides instant access to the folder that houses your search term. The function is quite simple, efficient to use, and customizable across all versions of Windows.

How To Enable Indexing

To index a specific file on Windows 10, type “indexing” in the start menu. The first match would be the control panel tab for Indexing Options.

By default, you will observe that not many folders are added. You will only see some selected folders and their subfolders indexed in My Computer.

To add a folder for indexing, click on the  Modify button and select the folder you would like to index. Let us index the Dropbox folder as an example. To do this:

  1. Select the checkbox beside the Dropbox folder
  2. You will observe that the folder immediately appears in the Summary portion; Click on OK
  3. The Windows 10 OS will instantly start the indexing of the new folder
  4. This will display the “items indexed” addition
  5. Next, it will receive a notification that “Indexing Speed is reduced due to user activity”

Subsequently, Windows 10 knows that indexing is not affected by computer performance; therefore, it utilizes greater resources when a computer is idle than when it is being used.

Once you manually start the process, the Pause button at the bottom of the window is enabled, indicating that indexing is running.

Suppose you require further options to customize your indexing efforts. In that case, you can also go click on the “Advanced” button, which will open the Advanced Options window.

This window will provide you with multiple options to decide how your system indexes your frequently accessed resources.  It will also allow you to index encrypted files, among other things!

Furthermore, you can troubleshoot and rebuild the whole index altogether. This is necessary when you are moving multiple files simultaneously or when Windows Search displays results inaccurately.

By default, the indexing database is located in “C: ProgramData/Microsoft/Search” but can be easily changed here as well.

Moreover, the EDB database on Windows 10 OS is situated in “C: ProgramData /Microsoft /Search /Data /Applications /Windows.

If you want to ensure that your index stays secure at all times, it is wise to shift it to a separate drive in case the main drive becomes corrupted.

Windows Search Indexing and How To Disable It

It is a good idea to turn Windows Search Indexing off when you do not frequently rely on it or depend on another search program.

When you turn off indexation, it does not completely shut down Windows Search; it only makes it a bit slower.

When it comes to Windows Search Indexing, you have three options:

  1. Removing folders from indexation for reducing scan time
  2. Disabling content indexation
  3. Completely disabling Window Search Indexing

Removing Indexation Folders

Limiting the folders you want indexed might sometimes be enough to ease the load.

Keep in mind that Windows Search Indexes some folders by default; these include Downloads, Desktop, or Documents.

As there is a lot of file movement in folders such as Downloads, the indexing process becomes a burden on your system’s processing ability and has to work harder to load that folder.

If you disable search indexing, it will also disable the prompt for turning the search indexing on for quick results. Turning this feature off will free up the system resources that the OS uses to maintain and build the index.

To disable Search Indexing, a service named “WSearch” must first be disabled. Before moving on to that, make sure that your account has administrative privileges.

Therefore, to disable Search Indexing on Windows 10, follow the steps below:

  1. Press the shortcut keys Windows + X together on the keyboard to open the Power user menu. On the other hand, you can also right-click on the Start menu. Once the menu is open, and select Computer Management
  2. Once the Computer Management utility is open, expand the tree view on the left of Services and Applications/Services
  3. You will observe an installed services list on the right side. Search for the service named “Windows Search”
  4. Open the service properties dialog by double-clicking the Windows Search row. If a service has “Running” status, click on the Stop button and wait until the status shows “Stopped”
  5. Change the type of startup to “Disabled” from “Automatic (Delayed Start)” via the drop-down list
  6. Apply and click OK

Disabling Content Indexation

You also might want to check whether Windows Search is allowed indexing file properties and not only file contents on selected drives. Evidently, it takes extra time to scan a file’s contents, and if you do not require that, disable it.

  • On your Windows 10 device, follow the steps to disable content indexation:
  • Open the File Explorer
  • Right-click on the drive, like, Local Disk (C:). Select the Properties from the context menu
  • If it does not automatically open, move to the General tab
  • Remove the checkmark from “Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties”
  • Approve the Attribute changes by choosing “apply changes to drive, subfolders and files,” click OK

This process might take some time for its completion. It can also run for minutes and longer, depending on the drive size.

You may also receive an access denied error. It is suggested to select “Ignore All” when it happens to notify Windows for automatically ignoring any future access denied errors.

Completely disabling Windows Search Indexing

The last option for you is to disable Windows Search indexing entirely. Disabling prevents the indexation processes, resulting in less load on the RAM and faster overall performance.

To do this, follow our step-by-step instructions:

  1. Click the Windows key
  2. Type “services.msc,”
  3. Tap Enter; opening the Windows Services Manager
  4. Find Windows Search and open the services listing option
  5. The services are automatically arranged, so move to the bottom, finding it quicker
  6. Right-click Windows Search
  7. Select Properties from the options
  8. Change the startup type to “disabled”
  9. Choose “Stop” under the service status
  10. Select Apply and then click OK

However, you might still run searches without indexing, indicating that your searches might take longer to complete.

Customizing the Indexed Locations

By default, only certain locations are indexed by Windows Search Service. These locations include:

  • Start Menu: All of the options in the menu are indexed for quick searching
  • Offline files: All offline files and folders are indexed for fast searching
  • Windows: All of the files in the system are indexed for quick searching
  • Users: All user’s folders on the computer are indexed for quick searching

The fastest way to index a folder is by adding it to your profile folders, like Pictures or Documents. Even though the data folders in applications are stored inside user profiles, they are excluded from indexing by default.

Since you do not want to index files or folders associated with application data, this will be the preferable setting in most cases.

The dialog box displayed by Indexing Options offers a complete overview of indexing on the computer, including the number of items indexed and the present state of indexing. You can find the presently indexed location listed under the Included Locations.

The indexed locations can be added or removed by completing the following steps:

  1. Type Indexing Options in the taskbar Search box and press Enter
  2. Alternatively, when working with the File Explorer Search Tools, select Advanced Options and then Change Indexed Locations
  3. Choose a location and then click on Modify
  4. In the dialog box of Indexed Locations, click on Show All Locations to display the standard and hidden locations
  5. Use the options provided to select the locations to index. Or clear the checkboxes for the site you do not want to be indexed anymore.
  6. Click OK to save changes

The locations that can be indexed include hard drives, offline file folders, and devices having removable storage.

If you expand a node, you will observe an open triangle to the left side of the location name. Such as, Local Disk (C:) can be expanded to select a folder on the C: drive.

Some system folders are omitted from indexing. When indexing is enabled for the entire system drive, these folders in the system are automatically excluded.

However, remember that you would not want to index the complete drive. Alternatively, you can separately expand the location of the drive and select folders.

Excluding Or Including Files By Their Type

You can configure the Windows Search Service to index the names of folders and files, their contents, and their properties.

The Windows Search service determines the types of folders and files to prioritize indexing according to the extension file.

This information is used by the Windows Search service; it knows about file extensions and file types automatically, helping it index them. Moreover, a file filter is associated with each of the file extensions.

The filter determines whether and how the files are indexed within a specific extension. There are two general settings for files included in the index:

  • Index Properties: Ensuring only file properties are indexed
  • Index Properties and File Contents: Ensuring file properties and file content can be indexed if indexing is enabled

Furthermore, you can also specify the types of files that the Windows Search service includes or excludes during indexing using following the steps below:

  1. In the taskbar search box, type Indexing Options and press Enter. Alternatively, while working with File Explorer Search Tools, select the Advanced Options and then Change Indexed Locations
  2. Click on Advanced
  3. On the Index Setting tab, select the check box of Index Encrypted Files if you want to include the search to find encrypted index files
  4. If you are thinking of enhancing your system’s capability to index non-English characters, check the check box that says “Treat Similar Words With Diacritics As Different Words”
  5. Remember that clearing the second and third steps will cause a complete rebuild of the Windows Search Service indexes
  6. Each filter association and file extension is listed on the File Types tab. When the file extension is selected, these file types would be included by Window Search Service when indexing. If you have not specified a file extension, then all files of this type will be excluded during indexing. Appropriately clear or select file extensions. The Windows Search service might register a new filter when new applications are installed; furthermore, it also configures the associated file extensions for those filters used.  
  7. Therefore, if the filter and support are unavailable for some reason, it is required for a specific file extension. Write the file extension in the provided text box and click Add
  8. Click on the file extension and then select either the “Index Properties And File Contents” or “Index Properties Only” if you want to change the way files with particular extensions are indexed. Remember that you should only change how indexing functions when you are confident that the chosen configuration works
  9. Save the settings by clicking OK

Resolving the Indexing Problems

If you want to perform fast and efficient searches, Windows Search service should be running. Furthermore, to index files, the service must also be in process.

In case you think there is an issue with the indexing or searching processes, check the status of the Windows Search service. To do that, follow the steps below:

  1. Type “View Local Services” in the taskbar Search box
  2. Press Enter
  3. Make sure that the Windows Search service is classified as Started in the Services window. If it is not running:
  4. Right-click on Windows Search
  5. Click Start
  6. If you suspect an issue with indexing while the service is running:
  7. Right-click
  8. Select Restart

Some other commonly faced indexing problems have to do with incorrect index settings, fragmented indexes, and insufficient space in the file location.

A corrupt index indicator is when the results you expect are not the ones provided by the searches or new documents are improperly indexed.

You know there is a problem with the index settings when Windows Search Service returns file errors in the event logs, leading to search failures.

And when your index location has insufficient storage space, The Windows Search Service event logs will report “new documents indexing failure.”

However, despite your efforts, the indexing feature may not deliver the results you expect when searching for a file.

Luckily, there are multiple ways to fix this problem:

Checking That Network Location Is Indexed

Suppose you are facing trouble locating data on a network drive. In that case, you have to make sure first that the network location is being indexed.

To do this on Windows 10:

  1. Open File Explorer and
  2. Right-click the mapped network drive required for indexing
  3. Select the Properties command from the resultant Shortcut menu

When you do that, the properties sheets of mapped drives would be displayed by Windows. Ensure that you have ticked the checkbox that says “Allow Files on this drive to have contents indexed.”

This checkbox can be found under the General tab!

Checking The Search Options For Network Drive

Supposing that a mapped network drive index is underway and Windows has had enough time for a complete indexing process. The next step would be checking the search options for network drives.

To do that:

  1. Double-click the mapped network drive in the File Explorer
  2. Select the View tab in File Explorer
  3. Click the Options icon
  4. Next, click the Change Folder
  5. Then click Search Options

Following these steps will display the Folder Options dialog box. Click on the Search tab, and multiple checkboxes related to the search process would be shown.

The first checkbox disables indexing, and the other three control the indexing process and what can be indexed.

You can choose compressed archives (like .ZIP and .RAR files), file contents, and system directories (including system folders).

Checking the Server-Side Indexing

The above settings cater to client-side indexing; the Windows Server usually performs its own indexing on the server-side.

When data volume server-side indexing is enabled, Windows 10 clients must find shared contents via a mapped network drive, irrespective of whether that client has indexed the server’s contents.

Additionally, if you are thinking of checking the indexing on the server-side:

  1. Log on to the server’s desktop
  2. Right-click on volume that requires checking by choosing Properties in the shortcut menu
  3. When you do that, Windows will open the property sheet of the volume
  4. The properties sheet’s General tab has a checkbox that can be selected for indexing files

Checking The Windows Search Status

No matter what level the indexing is being performed – the client level or the server level, it requires the Windows Search service to be at the optimum level for indexing to function.

The Windows Search service tab status can be checked via opening the Service Control Manager by running “services.msc” at the Run prompt. The search service must display Running status for it to work.

Checking The Settings

If you have tried everything, but indexing is still not working correctly, there is one more thing that can be done:

  1. Go to Setting 
  2. Click on Search
  3. Then click on Searching Windows
  4. A window will open showing you the amount of indexing and the indexing model being used. It is also better to ensure that no important folders (such as Pictures, Documents) are excluded
  5. When you scroll to the bottom of the screen, you will find a link that allows index troubleshooting; click on it.

The troubleshooter will automatically detect and resolve any problems related to indexing.


Should I Turn Off Indexing In Windows 10?

Generally, it is better to turn Windows Search Indexing off if you do not search that much or use another desktop search program.

If I Turn Off Indexing, Will It Never Run Searches On My System?

Turning off indexing does not necessarily mean that Windows search will stop running completely. It means that the search may take longer and would be a bit slower while running searches.

How Can I Speed Up My Windows Search Indexing?

Go to the Control Panel and click on the Indexing Option to monitor it. Change the value of DisableBackOff = 1 option; this makes indexing faster than it was before. You can continue working on your computer; however, indexing will continue in the background and has a lower probability of pausing when running other programs.

How Can I Check The Windows Indexing Status?

To check the number of the indexed item, go to Settings, then Search, then Searching Windows, and check the Indexed items value.