Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tip: Make Windows Desktop Search less CPU intensive

After installing Vista, I noticed that the CPU would peg itself at 100% for minutes at a time periodically. Using Process Explorer, I determined that the culprit was SearchFilterHost.exe, which is the part of Windows Desktop Search that indexes your documents for that zippy search you get from the Start Menu. SearchProtocolHost.exe and SearchIndexer.exe were also using more resources than normal. Stopping the "Windows Search Service" would fix the problem, but it also (obviously) stopped my documents and emails from being indexed. After getting used to using indexed searches on my emails, I was definitely not about to disable the service for good.

The problem was most prevalent when it was rebuilding a fresh index or after I modified a lot of files. It also seemed to bring my system to a crawl when running iTunes. After doing a little research on the web, I stumbled upon the answer: Disable the indexing of XML documents. It looks like the indexing XML documents is a CPU intensive process. Either that, or there's contention with other processes when they use temporary XML files. The reason I saw the issue with iTunes has to do with how iTunes manages its music library. It uses a number temporary XML files which Windows Desktop Search attempts to index.

To disable this file type, go to the Control Panel and launch the Indexing Options app. Click the Advanced button, then go to the File Types tab. Find the xml extension and uncheck the box next to it. Clicking OK will prompt you to rebuild the index. Do so.

Now, you may have your reasons for wanting to index XML files. If that's the case, you may not want to turn this file type off. In that case, consider excluding the iTunes library folder from the list of folders that will be indexed. Personally, the annoyance of having my CPU pegged more often that it should be was enough for me to turn off the XML file type for good. I may turn it back on at a later date, perhaps when Microsoft updates Windows Desktop Search.

I posted this because I thought that it might help someone else with the same issue. If you've found this via a Google search, hopefully this information will ease your pain. Keep in mind that this tip is not limited to Windows Vista users. To my knowledge, these tips work with all versions of Windows Desktop Search.

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Blogger Marc Arbesman said...

I've been going back and forth on how I feel about Vista. But the more I know how to modify the um...features, the more I like using it.

Here's another article about how to tweak Vista to your liking.

Thu Apr 26, 12:24:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Try uninstalling Microsoft Desktop search and installing X1 desktop search ( - FREE. The tool is 1000x better than Microsoft and it is far more efficient. FYI, initial scan will be CPU demanding. After initial scan performance will be very good.

Fri Apr 27, 04:57:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

X1 is a Free 30 days trial, not freeware.

Sun Nov 30, 08:02:00 AM PST  

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