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Configure Windows Indexing Service for Performance

The Windows Indexing Service provides you with the ability to perform advanced searches on directories located on your computer and on shared directories on the network. The Indexing Service was introduced with IIS (Internet Information Services) and is now installed with Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

The Indexing Service is not started by default on a Windows 2000 professional computer. If you want the Indexing service to start automatically, select "Start | Settings | Control Panel | Administrative Tools" and open the "Computer Management" application. In the left pane of the "Computer Management" window, select "Services", then in the right pane, right-click on "Indexing Service". The "Indexing Services Properties" dialog box will appear.

In the "Indexing Services Properties" dialog box, on the "General" tab select "Automatic" from the "Startup type:" drop-down list. Under "Service stautus:" click on the "Start" button. A flurry of hard disk activity may begin as the Indexing Service builds or updates the index. The Indexing service creates an index (also called a catalog) organized in a way that makes it quick and easy to search. The Indexing Service also records the documents properties, for example its date of creation and last modified date.

The Search application can be accessed by right-clicking on any folder and selecting "Search..." in the popup menu. You can search for file names or you can search for text within files using keywords, or phases. Queries can use wildcards (?, *) and boolean operators (AND OR and NOT). When a user searches an NTFS volume, the Indexing service will return in the results only the files the user has permission to see.

The documents created by most applications contain formatting and control information, for example a webpage contains html tags, a Word document contains rtf tags. The Indexing Service uses filters to extract the content from the formatting and control information. Documents with extensions for which filters are not installed will not be indexed by default. If you want to index everything, open the "Computer Management" application as described above, and select "Services ...", then right-click on "Indexing Service" and select "Properties" in the popup menu. In the "Indexing Services Properties" dialog box which appears, on the "Generation" tab, check the checkbox next to "Index Files With Unknown Extensions".

The Indexing service is designed to run continuously and requires no maintenance. After it is setup, it will automatically update the index. When a file changes, the OS sends a change notification to the Indexing Service, causing it to update the index. Folders on remote computers are scanned periodically.

The Windows Indexing Service uses a fair amount of disk space (approximately 30% the amount of the original files). If the shared directories on the network are large, it can consume a considerable portion of the computer's memory and processor cycles. There are several options for configuring the Indexing Service to improve performance.

To configure the Indexing Service select "Start | Settings | Control Panel | Administrative Tools" and open the "Computer Management" application. In the left pane of the "Computer Management" window, click the plus sign next to "Services and Applications", then right-click on the "Indexing Service" icon. In the popup menu, select "All Tasks | Tune Performance". The "Indexing Service Usage" dialog box will appear.

The "Indexing Service Usage" dialog box provides three radio button options that let Windows set the Indexing Service Performance for you; "Used often", "Used occasionally", and "Never Used". If you want to provide your own custom setting, set the "Customize" radio button and click on the "Customize..." button. The "Desired Performance" dialog box will appear.

The "Desired Performance" dialog box contains two slider controls. The "Indexing" slider control sets how quickly the catalog will be updated. Adjust it to the left to reduce the amount of system resources used to update the catalog. The "Querying" slider control sets how quickly search results will be returned. Adjusting it to the left will reduce the amount of system resources used, but search results will take longer to return.

You can also control the Indexing Service by configuring the specific folders to be indexed. When you click on the "Indexing Service" icon in the "Computer Management" window, the right pane should list a catalog named "System". When you double-click on a catalog, you will find three folders, "Directories", "Properties", and "Query The Catalog".

Note: If Internet Information Server (IIS) is installed on your computer, you should also see a catalog named "Web". The Web catalog scans the C:Inetpub directory.

To add a folder to be indexed, right-click on the "Directories" folder and select "New | Directory" in the popup menu. In the "Add Directory" dialog box that appears, enter the path of the new directory. To remove a folder, left-click on the "Directories" folder to display the list of directories in the right pane. Then left-click on a directory and select "Delete" in the popup menu.

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About The Author

Stephen Bucaro

To learn how to maintain your computer and use it more effectively to design a Web site and make money on the Web visit bucarotechelp.com. To subscribe to Bucaro TecHelp Newsletter visit http://bucarotechelp.com/search/000800.asp.

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