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Windows and Outlook search indexer

Search is quite a vital part of Windows 7 and also of Outlook. People always need to find that special email or file and then search doesn’t show the most recent items. One of the solutions might be rebuilding the search index. However these problems have the tendency to keep coming back.

A colleague recently pointed me to an alternative approach. It seems that sometimes Windows is having problems keeping up with all the file changes and all the email that pours in. Just like in Windows Vista, the Windows Search indexer is throttled to make sure that your system stays fast and snappy. If you can’t find your files and emails you are slowed down even more. The solution is to disable the indexer backoff. This tells the indexer to just keep going and not to worry about any system activity.

The indexer is especially busy when you install Xobni and it starts indexing all your mail. It will touch all your mail forcing the Windows Indexer to re-index everything. With the indexer backoff enabled it will, which is the default, Outlook performance drags for a long time. When the indexer backoff is disabled the searchindexer.exe process will ramp up the CPU cycles and finish much faster allowing you to find your email sooner!

You can also find this setting in the Group Policy editor under Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Search. The setting is called Disable indexer backoff. You’ll want to enable this to turn off the indexer backoff.

As a registry key you can use HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search\DisableBackoff with a value of 1.

Or use this oneliner:
reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search" /v DisableBackoff /t REG_DWORD /d 1 && net stop "Windows Search" && net start "Windows Search"

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Posted by Mischa Oudhof

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