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Save CPU and RAM: Disable the Indexing Service on Windows XP

If there is one bloated and unnecessary service that you should immediately disable, it’s definitely the Indexing Service built into Windows XP. The idea behind it is that you can search for files more quickly if it is enabled….  but you are using Google Desktop for that, right? 

The indexing service seems to eat up a lot of CPU on every machine I’ve used, especially when you have the amount of files that I’ve got. Let’s disable it.

  1. Navigate to the Services console via Administrative Tools.
  2. Double-click on the Indexing Service and change the startup type to disabled.
  3. Hit the stop button if it is started, which is likely, and then hit OK.

Yet another unnecessary service stopped!

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/26/06

Comments (20)

  1. Jon Dingle

    I’m a new XP user and I’ve encountered a new feature that I really find annoying.

    When searching the Internet with Google (or any other search engine), all of my previous search words or terms appear automatically in a drop-down box below the main search field. Since this happens regardless of the search engine I use, I’m assuming this is a new feature of XP.

    For example, if I type the letter “F” I might get a list of previously searched words such as Frankenstein, French fries, Fritos, Flying Tigers, etc.

    I can delete these words easy enough, but HOW TO I PREVENT THEM FROM BEING RECORDED AND SAVED? I don’t want a giant drop-down menu filled with previous searches!

    Thanks!

  2. assive2007

    Option 1: Install mcafee siteadvisor. It’s know for disabling your autocomplete feature for some reason. Whether you use ie or firefox. http://www.siteadvisor.com/download/ff.html

    Option 2: I would presume you’re using ie7, Goto – internet options/content, then go into the settings for ‘autocomplete’ & uncheck ‘forms’.

  3. Johnluke

    Ok, so my computer is running so slowly that it takes about 2 minutes for internet explorer to load. i used the CTRL, ALT, Delete function and saw that every program i use is using up more than half of my CPU each (EX: internet explorer is using from 40-60% of my CPU right now when it should be using from 0-2 if not less.. I was wondering how to make it so programs on my PC use way less CPU than they already are. My computer is the slowest running computer i have ever been on and i believe it is because of the CPU usage. Is there any way to make my programs run faster and use up less CPU?

    Thanks!

  4. Ben

    I simply trimmed Vista’s indexing, so I only notice it when I search, partly because it only keeps track of the Start menu folder, shortcuts folder, and my documents – but my music and video files are on another partition.
    Whenever I search the program files folder, I notice how much slower it is, because I don’t index this big folder.

  5. Chris

    My knowledge of Windows is just about average so I have no idea what you mean by “Navigate to the Services console via Administrative Tools.” Can someone give me a more n00b-friendly description? Cheers.

  6. Ben

    Why do you need a more friendly description? Making changes from these forums that you don’t easily understand means you’ll end up with other symptoms and problems you can’t fix, leading to bigger headaches and end up doing a full reinstall and stick with original settings.

    Vista isn’t slowed down noticeably by indexing, but you can easily notice the benefits whenever you try to find anything. It only uses CPU when you’re not using CPU.
    This isn’t the same as with XP…

  7. helper

    In windows xp open control panel then Navigate to the Services console via Administrative Tools then you can disable some unwanted programs to SPEED UP your pc

  8. Ben

    I’m just curious about indexing. I use Ubuntu, and love the fact that I can touch a couple of keys and instantly find and launch or open any software/files/emails simply by typing a few characters. I have amazing desktop eyecandy that XP couldn’t get close to, and I never noticed any RAM or CPU power being eaten up by the indexing (perhaps because it works partly by ‘watching’ directories rather than fresh building the index and working hard.

    Isn’t indexing a good function? or does XP (even though it is more than 5 years old running on hardware developed in later years – rather than being an OS written for the hardware it’s running on) use up so much of your system resources that you should perhaps consider finding a better operating system?

  9. Ed

    I’m running XP SP3, all latest updates;
    I followed the instruction here, but found that I had already disabled the Indexing Service in “Services” some time ago. But I seem to have a “new” indexing service running, which it isn’t immediately obvious how to disable. I think it might have arrived with Office 2007, or perhaps it was part of a recent update. It is associated with a magnifying glass icon in the system tray.

    I can “pause” it and I can “exit” the systray icon, but searchindexer.exe just keeps on running. I can change “Indexing options” in control panel, except there is no way to remove “My Documents” and if I remove “Microsoft Office outlook” then it just comes right back in again!

    Using tools from “sysinternals” (download from microsoft technet) :-
    Procmon shows that it is running incessantly, even though it claims that “Indexing speed is reduced due to user activity” – I’d rather it stopped and went away altogether. The trouble is that as it indexes, the files it touches are also scaneed by McAffee, further increasing the hit.
    (I have no control over McAffee, installed and updated by corporate policy).

    Using Procexp I can drill in to the process and right-click “properties” to find out all about it. It is “Microsoft windows search indexer” “C:\WINDOWS\system32\SearchIndexer.exe /Embedding” and the “Services” tab shows that it is called “WSearch” aka “Windows Search”. So I need to disable this one too, in it can be done right there from the procexp Properties / Services tab, or from Control Panel / Administrative Tools / Services / Windows Search

  10. Ben

    Right, just an update – after trying Ubuntu, no more attempts to disable the features, because they’re all good – not intrusive, very useful – perhaps helped by not having any malware problems, so not needing to have ‘firewall software’ or antivirus or any other crapware – just boot up and go. Great.

  11. Mick

    Thank you Ed!
    I couldn’t figure out why the Indexer kept running, I am glad I managed to find your post as googling didn’t show up much else.
    Thanks again.

  12. Khurram

    very nice it works.
    thankx
    send more things like that..
    thakx

  13. j0eg0d

    For the NOOBS … click START – click RUN – type SERVICES.MSC and hit ENTER … remember not to DISABLE things you’re unsure of

  14. ben2talk

    I disabled just about all services in XP, it runs fast if you do a fresh install, then uninstall services, disable internet and networking, disable theming services too, set for max performance, and install your game. For everything else, just get http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download

    With startup scripts disabled ( + – then type ‘msconfig’ ) it makes a decent games platform – no antivirus required if you use something like Clonezilla to back it up. Nice to know that Microsoft can never access my system to check up on my licensing or anything else.

  15. Haresh

    I just checked with the help of your article and I saw that I’ve disabled indexing service.

    However, in all the three drives in my computer (C:, D:, and E:) in properties the following is checked:

    Allow Indexing Service to index this disk for fast file searching.

    What is the difference between the Indexing service and this one?

    And, I’d unchecked Indexing in all the three drives a few days back. After which, because of that (or may be because of some other reason), my computer became very slow. And, I checked the boxes again. So, as of now, they are set to ‘Allow Indexing service to Index’ all the drives on my laptop but the service (as I mention in the beginning) is disabled.

    I’m confused. It would be nice if you can throw some light on the same :-)

    I’m using Windows XP Professional

  16. Greg

    Up until a half hour ago I thought the indexing service actually maintained a list of files on disk so that it would speed up your file searches. Then I stumbled across the ‘Query the Catalog’ pane in Computer Management > Services and Applications > Indexing Service > [Catalog]. It’s an oldskool HTML form titled ‘Indexing Service Query Form’ which supports full text queries. When you use it, the results come back instantaneously.

    However, try the same search within the regular file explorer (using ‘word or phrase in the file’ field) and it is nowhere near as fast, apparently just going out and doing a brute force search through the files. So it would appear that although you can turn on the Indexing Service from Explorer, I can’t see that you can actually query the index it creates.

    Furthermore, I had created another catalog for my music library because I search it a lot. Results have always come back one at a time in the regular amount of time it takes to scan the disk. When I looked at that catalog’s properties I found that it had a size of Zero.

    So I conclude that the Indexing Service is a foolishly implemented feature that makes you think you search faster when in fact the service slows you down, and that it was actually meant for indexing the docs on your machine for access via a Windows web server.

  17. Greg

    p.s. Although if you knew to use the query form buried in the computer management panel, your searches would be pretty darn fast!

  18. Brian W

    I have rare audio/video collections that need to be digitised without ‘dropouts’. I stopped the indexing service as explained above but when I check with Task Manager it still shows as active. A lifetime of indexingservice (inefficiency) for a moment of (efficient) searching doesn’t seem worth it! Perhaps an alternative operating system for this kind of work.

  19. Stefano

    Awesome! BUT. I stopped it and set to disabled but next time after I did a restart also ran. Grrr$ß$\ˇ^^˘°! Finaly I found something interesting. In Services control panel on the first tab “General” you can start/stop/disable whatever, but on the second tab “Connection” there was a hardware profile and this service was enabled for this profile so with every restart it started again… Nice feature, ha?:))) I set to disable also here, so now it is all right. Take care!

    p.s. My reason for disabling Indexing Service was that on an XP after I upgraded Office 2003 to 2010 in every 30 seconds I got an error message about cidaemon.exe (stopped or restarted or something misterious).

  20. meysam

    Hi
    my indexing service have got problem and windows raises an error every 5 second that says cidaemon.exe crashed. I followed this instructions and disabled the indexing service and set Startup type to manual. but when i restart the system the indexing service will automatically start and crash again.
    Please help me. this is very annoying
    PS: I installed the “SmartThru Ofiice” and “Google Desktop”. is the problem from one of them?

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