I add files to my PC but can’t find them in search from the TaskBar. I don’t quite know what’s going on, but my brother said I need to rebuild my search database. How can I do that?
It’s pretty rare that the Windows 10 file system search database gets completely out of sync, but it can happen. More likely is that you are either searching too quickly after you’ve added new files (it takes a while for the search database utility to kick off and index new content) or that you have excluded a specific folder or area of your PC from the search ‘bot instead. When you run these unsuccessful searches is it a few hours after you’ve added files or folders, or are you immediately testing it to see how quickly it indexes new content?
On the other hand, there’s no real downside to rebuilding the Windows 10 search database and it’s just a few clicks away, so let’s have a look. As a first step, however, let’s see what you have been indexed, then we can try some official search troubleshooting techniques before we go for the big rebuild!
TROUBLESHOOTING A FAULTY WINDOWS SEARCH DATABASE
To set things up, I have a system that’s not indexing everything it should. How can I tell? By searching for files and folders I know are on my computer, but aren’t showing in the search results. For example, I recently added some Beats Antique music, but a search shows me Web-based info, not my own local files or folders:
Useful information on the group, but where’s my local content?
To start debugging the problem, do another Taskbar search, but this time for “windows search“:
It’s offering up a best match of “Windows Search settings”, but I want to start with the highlighted option: “Find and fix problems with Windows Search” instead. We’ll come back to that Windows Search settings option in a bit!
Easy enough. Click on “Next” to proceed to a window where you can specify what problems you’re having with your Windows search:
Seems like #2 is the best match, so check “Files, folders, apps, or settings don’t appear in results.”
Click on “Next” to proceed and let it run some troubleshooting scripts and hopefully fix it! Note that you do need to be an administrator to run this troubleshooting wizard, so you might have to choose “run as administrator” or even validate your access with your system password before it will run. Once it does, however, you’ll likely see this:
Gotta love its optimism. Fixed! Done! But… is it?
You can run a quick search to see if it now finds your files or folders. If not, the next step is to see what files and folders it’s indexing and excluding, just in case your looking for something you’ll never match. To do that, go back to the original “windows search” and this time choose “Windows Search settings”.
CHECKING WINDOWS SEARCH SETTINGS
Now you’ll get an entirely new window…
If you’re seeing a really low number for “indexed items” that might indicate you have too much excluded. You can click on “Customize search locations here” (see it under the description of the Classic find my files setting?) to see what’s included and excluded. The “Indexing Options” window pops up (yes, another window!) and it’ll show a very high-level view that’s not very useful:
Worth observing here is the list of how many items are indexed (again). Interestingly, it’s not exactly the same as in the previous window (3165 versus 3167) but, ummm, it’s really close, right? 🤓
To see what files and folders you are indexing, click on the “Modify” button on the left. You’ll see a folder view that you can click on to expand. After a few clicks, you’ll be able to see something similar to this:
You can see that I am not indexing Downloads, Program Files, or even Windows, but I do have Users / Dave Taylor and Users / Public in the index list.
Suffice to say, that’s not the problem. Hmm… Click on “OK” to go back one window and this time click on “Advanced“. You’ll see the “Advanced Options” window, which has a few interesting options, as you can see:
Most importantly, however, in the center, it has a link to “Troubleshoot search and indexing”, which we’ve already tried, and a button labeled “Rebuild“. If you are thinking that a click on the Rebuild button is the next step, you’re right! Click on “Rebuild“.
A window pops up warning you that rebuilding the Windows search database is actually a slow process:
Turns out that it’s a fairly quick process in my experience. Maybe 2-3 minutes tops. Click “OK” and you’ll be back on the previous window, but the top portion will give you a status update on what’s happening:
After a while, you’ll finally see this:
Did it work? Hopefully! It did for me. When I search “beats antique” this time I find the folder on my PC:
Problem solved. Hopefully for your PC too!
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about Windows 10 for quite some time and earlier versions of Windows before that. While you’re visiting, why not check out my Windows 10 & PC help area? Thanks!