Fix: Microsoft Windows Search Protocol Host stopped working

by Ivan Jenic
Ivan Jenic
Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
Passionate about all elements related to Windows and combined with his innate curiosity, Ivan has delved deep into understanding this operating system, with a specialization in drivers and... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • Windows Search is an essential tool that you can use to identify any data you have on your PC.
  • The article below will help you by showing what needs to be done when Windows Seach Protocol stops working.
  • Even more similar guides can be found on our dedicated System Errors Hub.
  • For more helpful info, visit our Windows 10 Errors page.


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Some users have reported to the Microsoft forums that they’re getting “Microsoft Windows Search Protocol Host Stopped Working” very often. This problem is probably caused by some damaged files in your system, or the service is just disabled.

But there’s no need to worry, because we offer you a solution in this article.

What to do if Microsoft Search Protocol has stopped Working

  1. Check if Windows Search Service is enabled
  2. Check Indexing Settings
  3. Perform a Clean Boot
  4. Use System File Checker Tool to Repair Damaged Files
  5. Perform Disk Cleanup
  6. Run DISM

1. Check if Windows Search Service is enabled

First thing first, make sure that the Windows Search Service is enabled in your system. In case “Windows Search Service” isn’t enabled here’s what you should do to enable it:

  1. Go to Search and type administrative tools
  2. Open Administrative Tools, and go to Services
  3. Find Windows Search service and check if it’s enabledsearchprotocolhost.exe application error Windows 10
  4. If the service is not enabled, right click on it and choose Start

2. Check Indexing Settings

If your Search service is enabled, you can try with rebuilding your search indexing settings, because you probably know that search in Windows is ‘all about indexing.’ Here’s exactly what you need to do to rebuild your indexing settings:

  1. Go to Search, type control panel, and open Control Panel
  2. Go to Indexing options
  3. Click on Advanced tabMicrosoft windows search protocol host Windows 10
  4. Click on Rebuild tab, under Troubleshooting section

Now check if your search works again, after rebuilding the index. If you still can’t search your files normally, try some of the following system solutions.

3. Perform a Clean Boot

If “Windows Search Service” is enabled, but the problem still appears, you should try with a Clean Boot. A Clean Boot fixes a lot of problems in Windows, and it might fix ours as well. The thing with a Clean Boot is that it starts Windows with a minimal amount of drivers and software in order to determine if some software is preventing your system from running normally. Before you perform a Clean Boot, make sure that you’re logged to your computer as an administrator.

Here’s how you’ll perform a Clean Boot:

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. Or, if you are using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, and then click Search.
  2. Type msconfig in the search box, and then tap or click msconfig.
  3. On the Services tab of the System Configuration dialog box, tap or click to select the Hide all Microsoft services check box, and then tap or click Disable all.
  4. On the Startup tab of the System Configuration dialog box, tap or click Open Task Manager.
  5. On the Startup tab in Task Manager, for each startup item, select the item and then click Disable.
  6. Close Task Manager.
  7. On the Startup tab of the System Configuration dialog box, tap or click OK, and then restart the computer.

Also, you should know that performign a Clean Boot is not completely safe, because it could damage your system and your computer could become unusable. However, you might face some lack of functionality of your system after you perform a Clean Boot, but don’t worry, this is not an issue, because everything will be back to normal after you restart your PC.

4. Use System File Checker Tool to repair damaged files

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Also the problem with Search Protocol Host could have occurred if the “ntdll.dll” file is corrupt. In order to repair this file, you’ll need to perform SFC (System File Checker) scan, here’s how you will do it:

  1. Go to Search, type cmd in the Search box, and then right-click on Command Prompt,
  2. Click on Run as administrator. (If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or click Allow).
  3. At the Command Prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER: sfc /scannowSearch protocol host process failed Windows 10

The sfc /scannow command will scan all protected system files, and replace corrupted files with a cached copy that is located in a compressed folder at %WinDir%System32dllcache.

5. Perform Disk Cleanup

After performing the SFC scan, we’re also going to quickly clean up your hard drive from any potential corrupt files. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Go to Search, type disk cleanup, and choose Disk Cleanup from the list of results.
  2. Select your Windows 10 hard drive, by default it should be C. Click OK.Microsoft Windows search protocol host popup Windows 10
  3. Disk Cleanup will scan your computer. When the scan is completed, make sure that the Temporary files option is checked on the Files to delete list.
  4. Click OK to clean your disk.

6. Run DISM

Similarly to the SFC scan, DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) is also a troubleshooting tool, but a more advanced one. So, if the SFC scan didn’t manage to get the job done, there’s a good chance DISM will.

In case you don’t know how to run DISM, just follow the instructions below:

  1. Go to Search, type cmd, and open Command Prompt as Administrator.
  2. Enter the following command on the command line:
      • DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /RestorehealthMicrosoft windows search protocol host asking for credential
  3. In case the DISM can’t obtain files online, try using your installation USB or DVD. Insert media and type following command:
      • DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth /Source:C:RepairSourceWindows /LimitAccess
  4. Make sure to replace ”C:Repair/Source/Windows” path of your DVD or USB.

Performing one of these four solutions should solve your problem with Windows Search service.

But, if you’re still getting the Microsoft Windows Search Protocol Host Stopped Working message, please tell us in the comment section below, because we’ll be glad to find another working solution for your problem.

But first, here are some more examples of this problem:

  • searchprotocolhost.exe application error Windows 10
    • This is the error code that usually comes with the Search Protocol error in Windows 10.
  • search protocol host process failed Outlook 2016
    • This error code can also be connected with Outlook 2016.
  • Microsoft windows search protocol host asking for credentials
    • If your credentials are wrong, you might encounter the Search Protocol issue.
  • Microsoft Windows search protocol host popup Windows 10
    • This issue usually appears in form of a popup.
  • searchprotocolhost.exe application error Windows 7
    • The problem with the Search Protocol doesn’t only show up in Windows 10, but in Windows 7, too.

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