Manage Windows 10 Search Indexing

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 10, 2017
Updated • Oct 26, 2021
Windows, Windows tips

Windows Search can cause high load situations on Windows 10 machines -- and on previous versions of Windows as well -- especially when search indexing runs.

Basically, what search indexing does is scan all folders that are configured for indexation on the Windows device to add, change and remove the index to take into account file changes in those locations.

While that works well on many devices, it may cause big performance issues on others. It depends on factors such as the speed of the processor and hard drive, the selected folders and the files they contain, and the number of changes since the last indexing process.

Generally speaking it is a good idea to turn Windows Search indexing off if you don't search often, or use a different desktop search program for that instead.

Turning off indexation does not mean that Windows Search won't work at all, it just means that it may be slower when you run searches.

You have three options when it comes to Windows Search Indexing:

  1. Remove folders from indexation to reduce the scan time
  2. Disable content indexation
  3. Disable Windows Search indexing completely

Remove folders from indexation

It may be enough sometimes to limit the folders that you want Windows Search to index. Windows Search indexes some folders, like Downloads, Documents or Desktop by default. If you are a heavy downloader, the downloads folder may be full of files and folders all the time. Additionally, file and folders may get deleted regularly as well which means that indexing has a lot of work to do to process that folder.

Tip: It is a good idea to limit indexation to folders that you want Windows Search to index. If you work with a lot of documents and use Windows Search to find them, you may want to keep the Documents folder but remove others that you don't require.

Indexing Options

You manage the indexing locations in the Indexing Options. To load the configuration, tap on the Windows-key, type indexing options, and select the result of the same name.

The Indexing Options window lists all folders that are included or excluded from indexation. It furthermore highlights the number of items that are in the index currently, and the status of indexing.

windows search indexing options

Select Modify at the bottom to manage the indexing locations. This opens a dual-pane window that lists all available locations in the top pane, and all folders selected for indexation at the bottom.

Tip: Make sure you click on the "show all locations" button to reveal locations that may not be shown by default.

indexed locations

You add new locations by checking boxes in front of items in the top pane, and remove existing ones by removing the checkmarks from the boxes. Since you may not want to navigate the top folder structure to locate all indexed locations, you may click on a location in the lower pane to jump straight to it. This allows you to remove it with just two clicks.

When you remove a location from Windows Search indexing, Windows Search won't scan it anymore when it runs scans for changes in those locations.

You may also exclude subfolders from indexation. This is useful if you want some locations of a folder to be indexed but not others. Using exclude options may further help reduce the load of indexation when Windows Search indexing runs.

advanced indexing options

Check the Advanced options once you are done. Make sure that the options "index encrypted files" and "treat similar words with diacritics as different words" are not selected.

You may delete and recreate the index on the page as well, and change the location of the index. The latter may be useful if the computer's main drive is slower than another drive connected to the device.

Disable content indexation

drive content indexation

Another thing that you may want to check is whether Windows Search is allowed to index file content and not only file properties on select drives. It takes more time obviously to scan the content of files as well, and if you don't need that, you may want to make sure that this is not done on the Windows machine in question.

You need to repeat the following steps for any drive of the Windows 10 PC:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Right-click on the drive, e.g. Local Disk (c:), and select properties from the context menu.
  3. Go to the General tab if it does not open automatically.
  4. Remove the checkmark from "Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties".
  5. Confirm the Attribute changes by selecting "apply changes to drive, subfolders and files, and click ok.

The process may take a while before it completes. It can run for minutes and even longer than that depending on the size of the drive.

You may get an access denied error. I suggest you select "ignore all" when that happens to tell Windows that it should ignore any future access denied error automatically.

Disable Windows Search Indexing completely

stop windows search

The final option that you have is to disable Windows Search indexing completely. This prevents any indexation processes and should improve the situation on all devices that are affected by high load or performance issues that are caused by Windows Search indexing.

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type services.msc, and tap on the Enter-key. This opens the Windows Services Manager.
  2. Locate Windows Search when the services listing opens. The services are sorted automatically, so jump to the bottom to find it more quickly.
  3. Right-click on Windows Search and select properties from the menu.
  4. Switch the startup type to "disabled".
  5. Select "stop" under service status to block the service from running in that session.
  6. Click apply and then ok.

You may still run searches, but without indexing. This means that searches may take longer to complete.

Manage Windows 10 Search Indexing
Article Name
Manage Windows 10 Search Indexing
Find out how to ease the load on your Windows 10 PC if Windows Search Indexing is causing a high load and performance issues on it regularly.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

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