Should I disable disk indexing?

For my previous systems, I have always disabled disk indexing on all drives. It significantly improved overall performance and stopped a lot of unnecessary disk thrashing.

I'm wondering if I should continue this trend on my new core-i7 build, which is light years better than my 5 yr old system hardware wise.

I don't do a whole lot of searching around my drives, and I'm used to manually browse through my folders to look for files. But, I'm wondering if I should leave Indexing on in my system this time around. It will make my searches go faster I suppose, but is this worth the overhead performance hit? Does Windows 7 handle indexing "smarter" than previous OS's?

What's your opinion on this service?
Reply to trale
27 answers Last reply
More about should disable disk indexing
  1. I turn indexing off because I hardly ever have to search my drives. One of the downsides to this in Windows 7 is that it seems to eliminate the search option altogether (for files, you can still search the Start Menu). Fortunately I have my own search program that I use for those few times I need to find something.
    Reply to sminlal
  2. sminlal has a point, but I think for your purposes, and the hardware you now have at your disposal, that you're ok to leave the indexer to do it's thing.
    Reply to The_Prophecy
  3. ^+1. The only reason to get rid of Indexing is if you wave an SSD in your new rig.
    Reply to Shadow703793
  4. I've always left indexing on - I like the faster searches.
    Reply to cjl
  5. Thanks for the input guys. I guess I'll leave it on for a while and see how it turns out.

    But can someone explain how the actual implementation of disk indexing actually works and how it might impact performance?

    Does Windows 7 run this service everytime a file a created or modified? Or does it run via some smart scheduling, ie only run the indexing service when the computer is idle.

    My fear is that indexing will greatly slow down other processes like when I'm running a batch process for image files.
    Reply to trale
  6. it's run everytime a file a created or modified, exept in the folders that is excluded.

    Therefor, if you want to keep it running, limit it to your Document folder
    Reply to sitec
  7. It really doesnt matter. But you should disable it if you are using a SSD.
    Reply to NotSoSiniSter
  8. trale said:
    Thanks for the input guys. I guess I'll leave it on for a while and see how it turns out.

    But can someone explain how the actual implementation of disk indexing actually works and how it might impact performance?

    Does Windows 7 run this service everytime a file a created or modified? Or does it run via some smart scheduling, ie only run the indexing service when the computer is idle.

    My fear is that indexing will greatly slow down other processes like when I'm running a batch process for image files.


    The index is updated every time a file is created, modified or deleted within a currently indexed location. The indexer runs only when the computer is idle. As others have already said, you should most definitely stop the indexing service only if you have a solid state drive in your computer.
    Reply to The_Prophecy
  9. i7+hdd = indexing on

    ?+SSD = indexing off

    Slow CPU + ? = indexing off
    Reply to das_stig
  10. I'm running on Caviar Black and Green HDs for now.

    SSD down the road.
    Reply to trale
  11. Shadow703793 said:
    ^+1. The only reason to get rid of Indexing is if you wave an SSD in your new rig.


    Your scope is super limited. that is not the only reason to disable disk indexing. for example if you run a server for 100 virtual desktops for your users, you dont want disk indexing running on what ends up as an unmodified 'golden image'. your going to tie up thousands of dollars of resources to index useless information.

    This is just one of the hundreds of valid reasons people would want to limit disk indexing.

    Anonymous said:
    it's run everytime a file a created or modified, exept in the folders that is excluded.

    Therefor, if you want to keep it running, limit it to your Document folder


    This is exatly correct, you want to limit disk indexing to the locations where you personal files are stored.
    Reply to aerossi
  12. Could someone give me a definitive explanation of why indexing should be turned off on SSDs?

    Let me preempt some possible answers first:

    I know the argument about eliminating many small writes to update indexes, thereby improving the SSD's longevity. But, I am yet to see an authoritative explanation stating that SSD life is hurt by this in any significant amount. Moreover, at least those of us with a mix of SSDs and conventional hard drives can easily configure the index files to reside on a conventional hard drive, thus eliminating this concern altogether.

    I've also seen the "SSDs are fast enough already, so you don't need it" knee-jerk reaction repeated by countless people on the Internet. That just doesn't hold water. All it takes to realize that statement is wrong is to imagine a keyword search on an unindexed SSD volume. The logic is quite simple: In a rough sense, even if an SSD is 1000 times faster than a conventional hard drive, it means that an SSD can scan at most about 1000 files for a keyword as fast as an indexed conventional hard drive can return the equivalent keyword search result from its index. Try searching through any more files than that, and the SSD will be slower. (I have more than 1000 e-mails just within a given month saved on my hard drive in some cases...)

    SSDs aren't infinitely fast. They are only about 100 times as fast in seek time (which has little bearing when scanning the contents of every file for a keyword match) and at most about three times as fast in read speed as hard drives. Those kinds of factors don't even come close to the orders of magnitude of improvement provided by indexing.
    Reply to guney
  13. The simple fact of the matter is that while your drive is indexing your pc slows down. I noticed this when windows search came out, I installed it for instant searched, but because I work in the PC field, I use my pc 24/7 when it is powered on and I could not stand the overall slowness when disks were indexing. I organize my files very well and I also organize my emails in folders and sub folders so I never need to search massive databases for stuff. usually I search in a small area for what I want and it is just as fast as an index search (instant).

    The thing your forgetting is that a SSD is not only WAY faster, but its also WAY smaller. I will give two examples of situations where disc indexing should be turned on and off and why.

    Novice PC user - desktop PC w/1024GB hard drive "family pc" multi users access this pc. lots of music/pictures/emails all generally unorganized. This PC should have disc indexing turned on for faster searches.

    Avd User, small boot drive SSD 64gb (osload and apps only), secondary 1024GB hdd w/organized music emails etc.... This user should have the disc indexing turned off on the SSD, these files dont need to be searched quickly and all indexing will have is a negative performance hit on the system. Has nothing to do with "oh the drive is so fast you dont need to index it" I mean, thats PART of it, if you need to find any files on that drive yea, it will search fast, but the main reason is that disc indexing will have negative performance hit for NO benifits since your personal files are on another drive. MOST ppl that buy SSD know what they are doing and they dont buy them for storage space. SSD are boot drives.
    Reply to aerossi
  14. Those are both valid points and I agree with both.

    I think what I should make clear is that it's not the "disabling of indexing" that I'm against but specifically the "disabling of indexing because SSDs are fast enough". It's that "because SSDs are fast enough" part that I find misleading and, quite simply, wrong. As long as you replace that part with "because it slows down my machine" or with "because small drives don't need it as much", it becomes a valid statement. Without that, it's simply invalid.
    Reply to guney
  15. The Index is stored on the SSD as far as I can tell. If I index files on a HDD where the index is stored on the SDD the I should get even faster searching. This could actually be a performance plus.

    I am not worried that the index will either wear out my SSD or fill it up.

    What I need to see now is can other applications utilize the index or is a purely OS function.

    Alan
    Reply to deervalley
  16. I always turn off Windows Indexer ... grinds and grinds on the disk, interrupting my workflow. Instead:

    Install "search everything" from voidtools.com ... you'll never look back.

    I find it almost impossible to hide files from myself any more :-)
    Reply to minimalist
  17. trale said:
    For my previous systems, I have always disabled disk indexing on all drives. It significantly improved overall performance and stopped a lot of unnecessary disk thrashing.

    I'm wondering if I should continue this trend on my new core-i7 build, which is light years better than my 5 yr old system hardware wise.

    I don't do a whole lot of searching around my drives, and I'm used to manually browse through my folders to look for files. But, I'm wondering if I should leave Indexing on in my system this time around. It will make my searches go faster I suppose, but is this worth the overhead performance hit? Does Windows 7 handle indexing "smarter" than previous OS's?

    What's your opinion on this service?

    You can turn indexing off but leave windows search on.It takes a little longer to search,but not a significant difference..
    Reply to mike516
  18. sminlal said:
    I turn indexing off because I hardly ever have to search my drives. One of the downsides to this in Windows 7 is that it seems to eliminate the search option altogether (for files, you can still search the Start Menu). Fortunately I have my own search program that I use for those few times I need to find something.

    Turn index off.Leave windows search.
    Reply to mike516
  19. mike516 said:
    Turn index off.Leave windows search.


    How do you achieve that in win 7 services if you turn off windows search you also turn off indexing as they are both the same option. There is no separate option to turn off only indexing.
    Reply to curiousclive
  20. Clive, you can still disable it in Win 7. Pull up "Computer" and right click your C,D,E, etc... drive and select "properties". Make sure you click the drive itself and not the background. You'll know you clicked the drive when the little window open with the pie graph of your disk usage on it. Click the little check box at the bottom that says "allow files on this drive to be indexed". Done and done.


    Question related to this guys, Indexing speeds up manually run searches correct? Does it have any impact on the computer finding files on its own IE, does it help performance at all or is defraging the only way to do that?

    The Message Center for Win 7 recently told me I had a search error and to fix it I needed to rebuild the index. Well....NOW Search Indexer and its friends load at start up (never did before) and slow everything waaaaaaaaaay down. If all it does is help my "searches" then I'm dumping it. If it helps performance at all (which I highly suspect it doesn't) I'll leave it.

    Any and all help is appreciated as always.
    Reply to Cliffy B
  21. My experience is that, for me indexing not only slows down my computers but cripples them. For example, I often do things that involve creating/copying tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of image files. Windows Indexing (guess work from experience), as each new photo, is created thinks, Oh I had better re-index the whole directory, Oh I had better recreate all the thumbnails. You can watch the system getting slower and slower.

    Turning off indexing improves the situation a lot but you can still see the same thing happening. My solution is to hold the bulk of my files on Linux SAMBA shares and only the working files on Windows.

    With indexing turned off, file explorer is much slower, on large directories, because it insists on trying to identify file types so it can add those extra useless columns about file content.
    Reply to focaldepth
  22. Always disable all Windows indexing on all computers and use a real indexer like X1 which is 1,000 times better in functionality and performance. Windows indexing degrades performance. Anything that allows Windows to get off tasks is a bad thing, no matter what your hardware.
    Reply to tcscharles
  23. I generally leave indexing on, although it might be a reason why my WMP sometimes will lock up (especially on a boot). For the most part though i don't run into too many problems and searching for files is generally quicker so if you do file searching quite often i'd leave it on but if you hardly ever run across that problem it's probably best to leave it off. I did have to turn it off during Vista/when i only had 1GB of RAM because it was awfully slow.
    Reply to MidnightDistort
  24. Turn it off

    and use Everything search engine.
    http://www.voidtools.com/
    Reply to pascaltje
  25. Hi

    I found this post as it relates to a problem I'm having:
    http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/answers/id-3110804/hdd-till-spin.html#18227265

    I would like the HDD to stay off till I need it as the continues humming noise is just annoying as im use to the quiet now I have an SSD in my monster pc for the OS.

    The HDD has been told to turn off after 5 minutes put it randomly spins up when i'm not using it as I only have games on this HDD.

    Will disabling indexing stop the random spinning up of the HDD?
    Reply to Wayfall
  26. I just checked my system and found that indexing was on. The system, Windows 7x64 with I5 and 12 GB RAM was already very fast, so I didn't even think about the indexing. However, it seems to be totally useless. I don't understand how it could help with finding a file or folder. I normally use Ztree, but even with Windows Explorer, one just looks for the file or folder and finds it. I simply do not understand the fuss. Unless you don't organize your computer at all.
    Reply to Sho Mo
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