How Do I Re-Index Windows Search?

by Nick Peers

By default, Microsoft Windows 8 indexes all common files on your hard drive, but you can also add entire folders to the index manually. Windows uses the index to speed up your searches, so it is an important part of the Windows Search experience. Specifically, Windows scans the index instead of the entire hard disk when you conduct a search. If the file is indexed, the OS finds the file almost instantaneously. Occasionally, however, the index may become corrupted and your searches may not return any results. You can solve this problem by rebuilding the index.

Re-Index the Windows Search

1

Type "indexing" on the Start screen and then click "Indexing Options" in the list of results to open the Indexing Options window. You can change any setting related to the indexing service from this window, as well as add new folders to the index.

2

Click the "Advanced" button to view all advanced indexing options. You can change the index location by clicking the "Select new" button and choosing a different folder, if you feel the index takes up too much disk space on the system drive.

3

Click the "Rebuild" button in the Troubleshooting section. Click "OK" when warned that rebuilding the index might take a long time to complete. Note that search results may be incomplete until the index is rebuilt. Click "Close" to close the Indexing Options window.

Tips

  • check The Windows index stores various information about the files, including their paths, names, creation date and author.
  • check You can use the same procedures in Windows 7 to rebuild the index.
  • check To add more folders to the index, click the "Modify" button in the Indexing Options window to display the Indexed Locations window. Expand any of the drives and check the folders you want to include in the index. Click "OK." You can also add entire drives to the Windows index.
  • check To remove folders or drive from the index, uncheck them after clicking the "Modify" button, then click "OK."
  • check Check the "Index encrypted files" in the File Settings section of the Advanced Options window if you want to index the encrypted files on your hard disk.
  • check Check the "Treat similar words with diacritics as different words" box if you want to force Windows to recognize all diacritics, not just those included in the language version you are using.
  • check Windows continues to rebuild the index after you close the Indexing Options window.
  • check As a last resort, you can delete the Windows index file from the "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft" folder to force Windows to rebuild the index. The file is named "Windows.edb."

Warning

  • close Rebuilding the index can sometimes take 30 minutes or more, depending on the size of your hard disk and the number of indexed drives and folders.

About the Author

Nick Peers has been writing technology-related articles since 2003. His articles have appeared in dozens of technical publications, including MSN UK, CNET, BBC Who Do You Think You Are, LifeHacker UK and TechRadar. He holds a Masters in information technology degree from the University of East London.