Turning off Microsoft Vista’s Search Indexing CodeUnit 20 JUN 2009

Microsoft VistaAlthough Microsoft has since changed the way it implemented the search indexing service with the release of SP1 (thanks to Google’s insistence), it is still around and can still be quite an annoying feature despite the obvious benefits it reaps by preparing the way for quicker system searches when you are trying to locate some or other long forgotten file.

So why would you want to turn off this handy guy then? Well despite the fact it is meant to only operate when the machine detects no activity from your side, it does tend to run all the time, turning itself into quite the resources hog as well as being a merciless abuser of your hard drive. Naturally this can make things slow, very slow and as such, if you don’t really search all that much on your PC, you may as well turn it off and reap the benefits.

The first method for disabling the search indexer (pre SP1) is to open the Control Panel and go to the ‘Programs’ tab. Under ‘Programs and Features’ you will find a link to ‘Turn Windows features on or off’. Clicking on this loads up a new dialog that lists all the available Windows features in a checkbox tree. Locate the ‘Indexing Service’ checkbox and uncheck it. This will then disable the Search Indexer if it was previously in use.

Alternatively, you can also right-click on any of your hard drives under ‘Computer’ (previously known as ‘My Computer’ if you are feeling a little lost) and under the General tab on the Properties dialog you will notice a ‘Index this drive for faster searching’ checkbox which you can deselect and thus exclude from the indexing service.

However, the more certain way of disabling the Search Indexer service completely is to disable it from the Services panel. The steps to doing this are:

1. Click Start
2. Click Control Panel
3. Click System and Maintenance
4. Click Administrative Tools
5. Double-click Services
6. If asked for permission, click Continue
7. Scroll through the list and find “Windows Search”
8. Right-click it, and click Properties
9. Click Stop
10. Click the dropdown box next to Startup Type
11. Click Disabled
12. Click OK

And that is it. The Search Indexer will now be disabled (you may have to reboot to enforce the change) and all in the world of desktop performance should be fine again.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.