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Windows Vista hints and tips

Speed up Vista by turning off search indexing

Windows XP was quite poor at searching for files you had either lost, you couldn't remember where you had saved, or couldn't remember the name. Windows Vista is much better in this respect and its search capabilities are far superior. However, there may be occasions when you don't need Windows Search, for example, when you want your PC to run at the maximum possible speed. Search indexing doesn't actually slow down the computer much, but even if it's only a small effect, lots of small effects can have a large one.

There are other desktop search tools and you might prefer an alternative one to Windows Search. Examples include Google Desktop, X1 (Yahoo! Desktop Search), Ask Desktop Search, and Copernic Search. And finally, you might be so organised that you never lose anything! You put documents in your Documents folder, downloads in Downloads, pictures in the Pictures folder and music in the Music folder. They are all ready made and waiting to be used, so it's hard to lose files anyway isn't it?

There are several things you can do to eliminate time and CPU cycles wasted by Windows indexing the files on the hard disk drive. For example, click Start, Computer and then right click each hard disk drive in turn and select Properties. Clear the tick against Index this drive for faster searching. Click OK and then choose the option to apply the changes to the whole disk and all subfolders. It will take some time to apply, so be patient. You might see an error message concerning one or more files. This is normal and you should click the ignore button.

You should then go to the Control Panel and open Indexing Options. Makes sure that no locations are being indexed - remove any that are listed. After deselecting all the drives in the Conputer window you should find that there aren't any indexed locations, so if the window is blank then that's OK.

With no locations to index, Windows shouldn't waste any time or CPU cycles on the job, but you can go a little further and disable the search indexing service too. Click the Start button and enter services.msc. Look down the list of services and near the bottom you will see Windows Search. Double click it and set the Startup Type in the drop-down list to Disabled. Close the dialog and then the Services application.

Restart Windows and you'l find that the indexing service is no longer running. Does that mean you can't use the Search facility in Windows? Yes. If you try searching for anything you'll see a message in the search window prompting you to turn on indexing. Of course, if you have installed one of the alternative desktop search tools you won't need Windows Search.

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