Your key to fixing Windows / Outlook Indexing problems

If Windows / Outlook indexing isn’t working properly, there’s a buried tool that should help identify the problem.  We’ll show you where this tool is and what to do with the information it has.

It’s the Event Viewer, Windows logging of what happens on your computer.

Windows Search notes its actions in the Event Viewer including errors.

That’s the good news …..

The bad news is that the event entries aren’t very clear.  Often, they are cryptic to the point of confusing.

Sometimes the Event Log doesn’t show any error, even though you’re still having trouble.

Despite this, the event log is your best source of hard info on what’s stopping the indexing from working properly.  Even major indexing errors don’t produce an obvious warning message on the screen, only the   It’s better than trying many, many different things in the hope of stumbling onto a solution.

Naming

Windows Search is the proper name for the indexing service.  It changed from Windows Desktop Search after Windows XP.  But the old name persists in many places.

The ‘Search’ name doesn’t explain what the service does.  Windows Search services indexes your files, documents and Outlook data to make them faster to find.  It makes the computer version of a book index.

Windows Search runs in the background updating the index as new items arrive but it doesn’t always work properly.

Event Viewer

To reach the Event Viewer, start searching for that name and it’ll appear on the menu.

The initial view is enough to scare the bejesus out of most people, talk about ‘Too Much Information’.

Never fear, all that info can be narrowed down to just want you need.

Click on Windows Logs | Applications to see just that log list. On this test machine that list is still over 63,000 entries.

 Then do some more filtering from the ‘Filter Current Location’ action on the right column.

Filtering the Event Log

First click the types of log entries you want to see.  Click them all, including ‘Information’.

For Windows Search the ‘Information’ entries say when the service is turned on or off.

Then narrow down the search to just the Windows Search related items.  In the ‘Event Sources’ list scroll down to ‘Search’.

Speed up return visits by making a Custom View with the log filter you need, see the right-pane in the Event Viewer.

Most of the Windows Search log items are ‘Information’, usually when the Search service has stopped or started.

Windows Search Errors

Look down the event list for yellow or red icons – Warning or Error log entries.

Here’s one you’ll see if you rebuild the index.

The text description of the error might help but sometimes is cryptic or inconsistent.  For example, the above error doesn’t use the term ‘rebuild’ which Microsoft uses elsewhere.

Event ID:  a code number for the error.  Use this in a web search to find suggested fixes or fellow sufferers.

More Information: this link opens a Microsoft.com web page related to that error message.  It’s rarely helpful in practice.  Your own web searches will be more useful.

 

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