Force Windows 7 to rebuild my search index?
I have lots of problems with Windows 7 not finding files and other content that I know is on my drive but just doesn't show up in a search. I know people complain about the built-in search but I'm just wondering if I can force a rebuild of the search index to really give it a chance to work, or whether it's just time to go to a third party solution?
There's much debate in the Windows world about whether the Microsoft search system is any good, and it's all too common for people to complain that they can see a file in "File Explorer" even as search returns zero hits. Super frustrating!
The problem is in how the search system works: it creates a separate index file that contains the filename and specific attributes about the file and it's that index file, that "table of contents" that needs to stay constantly updated. Save a folder of new photos, create a document in Word, or download a PDF and you'' find that they can't be found with a standard search until everything's reindexed.
Worse, the way the index file is built, it needs to rebuild the entire thing each time, it can't just easily weave the new content into an existing file. Oh, and one more thing: lots of systems are setup so that the indexing is done while you're asleep, so if you actually turn off your computer each afternoon and restart it the next morning, there's never a chance for Windows to do the work behind the scenes and that index gets increasingly obsolete.
Fortunately you can force a rebuild if you just added a lot of new files or documents to your system and you don't have the patience for it to work automatically. Here's how...
Start out by going to "Control Panels" on the START menu:
Now look for "Indexing Options":
You can see the basic Indexing Options window here, with the locations that are indexed and those that are not:
You can fine-tune this as desired (for example, if you run VMware or a similar virtual machine system, omitting the data files is a very smart move performance-wise) but to force an index rebuild click on "Advanced", as highlighted.
Now you can see there are a bunch of options, but for now just click on "Rebuild":
Hold on a sec, partner! Are you sure you want to do something that'll take its own sweet time? Ya are? Then ya know what to do!
Clicked "OK"? Time to do something else, it's going to take a while...
That's all there is to it. Once it's done, try those searches again and see if you have better results with the built-in Windows 7 search system.
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