How to Enable or Disable Indexing in Windows 10, 8.1

By: Radu Tyrsina
5 minute read

First of all, let me say that this post doesn’t refer to the Windows Experience Index, but rather to the indexing feature in Windows 10 and 8.1 which is related to file search. We briefly go through its features and explain how to enable and disable it.

For those who don’t know what exactly indexing does in Windows 10 or Windows 8.1, here’s the short explanation – by turning on certain components of the index service you can speed up file searches or you can choose to disable it, in case you suspect it might be the culprit for your computer’s slow performance.

To access the “indexing options” service in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, open the search bar or press the Windows key and W together. Just type “indexing” there and you will find it.

How to enable or disable indexing on Windows 10 and 8

Indexing files is rather important, and in this article, we’re going to cover the following topics:

  • What is file indexing – Indexing is a built-in feature of Windows that allows you to quickly and easily find certain files or applications.
  • Indexing options Windows 10 – Indexing is a customizable feature, and in this article, we’re going to show you how to change basic indexing options.
  • Indexing windows 10 SSD – File Indexing fully supports SSDs, and in this article, we’re going to show you how to index your entire drive.
  • Windows indexing external hard drive, removable drives – Indexing fully supports external hard drives and removable drives so you can easily index files on any removable storage device.
  • Windows indexing exclude – As we mentioned, Windows Indexing supports customization, and you can easily exclude any directory from being indexed. This is rather useful if you have a directory or a drive that you rarely access.
  • Windows indexing rebuild, repair, reset – Sometimes your index can get corrupted and that can negatively impact your performance. However, you can easily repair your index with just a few clicks.
  • Windows indexing turn off, on – Some users want to completely disable Windows Indexing. There are few ways to do that, and we’re going to cover them all in this article.
  • Windows indexing file contents – Indexing also allows you to index file contents. This is rather useful if you’re working with text files and you need to find a file that has a specific word in it.

Solution 1 – Disable Windows Search service

In most cases, this service is turned on automatically, but if you want to make sure that everything is in perfect order, here’s what you need to do to enable the indexing service in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1:

  1. Open the Run window – press Windows key + R or just type Run in Search bar.
  2. Type services.msc and press Enter or click OK.
    Windows indexing removable drives
  3. Find the Windows Search service, and double-click on it. It looks like in the right screenshot.
    Windows indexing exclude
  4. Find Startup type: and select Disable from the pull-down menu. Now click the Stop button to stop the service. Click Apply and OK buttons to save changes.
    Indexing windows 10 SSD
  5. Now restart your PC.

After your PC restarts, Windows Indexing feature should be completely disabled on your PC. To turn it back on, simply undo the changes you made in this solution.

As you can see, ‘Windows Search’ is responsible for content indexing, property caching, search results for files, emails, and other content. So, by enabling or disabling it, you will consequently turn on or turn off the above mentioned features. You can easily choose to stop or restart the service, in case you have problems with it.

Solution 2 – Turn off Indexing using Command Prompt

Disabling Indexing is rather simple from the Services window, but if you’re an advanced user, you can disable it from Command Prompt. To do that, just follow these steps:

  1. Open Win + X menu by pressing Windows Key + X shortcut. Alternatively you can open this menu by right clicking the Start button. Select Command Prompt (Admin) or PowerShell (Admin) from the menu.
    Indexing options Windows 10
  2. When Command Prompt opens, you need to enter sc stop “wsearch” && sc config “wsearch” start=disabled and press Enter to run it.
    Windows indexing external hard drive

After doing that, you’ll stop Windows Search service instantly and the Indexing feature should be disabled. As you can see, this is a fast and simple way to disable Indexing, so if you’re an advanced user and you want to disable this feature quickly, be sure to try this method.

To enable Indexing, you just have to use sc config “wsearch” start=delayed-auto && sc start “wsearch” command.
Indexing windows 10 SSD

Change Indexing options

If you want to change your indexing options, you can choose which locations you want to index. By disabling certain locations from indexing, you might improve your performance. To change this setting, do the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter indexing. Select Indexing Options from the menu. If this option isn’t available from Search bar, you’ll need to access it from Control Panel.
    Windows indexing turn off
  2. Now you’ll see the list of indexed locations. Click on Modify button.
    Windows indexing file contents
  3. Uncheck the locations that you don’t want to index and click on OK to save changes. If needed, you can also check a new location from file tree to add it to your index.
    What is file indexing

By doing this you can optimize your PC and improve your performance by disabling indexing for the directories that you rarely use.

Turn off Indexing for a specific partition

If you want to improve your performance, you can disable indexing for an entire partition or hard drive. To disable indexing for a partition, you need to do the following:

  1. Open This PC and locate your hard drive. Right click the desired drive and choose Properties from the menu.
    Windows indexing exclude
  2. When the Properties window opens, navigate to General tab. Now uncheck Allow files on this drive to have context indexed. Click on Apply and OK.
    Windows indexing rebuild
  3. After doing that, you’ll get a confirmation dialog asking you to change these settings only for the root directory or for all subdirectories on the drive. Choose the desired option and click on OK.

After doing that, your partition and files on it will be indexed and you’ll be able to search trough them.

Rebuild Search Index

Sometimes issues with indexing can occur, and your search might become slow or unable to find the desired files. If this happens, your Search Index is most likely corrupted, but you can easily fix that.

If your Search Index isn’t working properly, you can fix it by following these steps:

  1. Open Indexing Options. You can do that quickly by typing indexing options in the Search bar and choosing Indexing Options from the list of results.
  2. When Indexing Options window opens, click on Advanced.
    What is file indexing
  3. Now click on Rebuild button.
    What is file indexing

After doing that, you just need to wait for a couple moments while Windows rebuilds your Search Index.

Windows Indexing is a useful feature, and we hope that this article helped you understand how to configure or disable Indexing on Windows 8 and 10.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2014 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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