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Windows 7: File Search in Windows 7 is Unreliable


31 Dec 2011   #1

Windows 7 Pro x64
 
 
File Search in Windows 7 is Unreliable

Hi,

It seems that the search functionality in Windows 7 cannot be relied upon. For example, I have a folder with around 2000 files. Search indexing has been enabled for this folder for about 12 months, yet when I try a simple filename search it fails to locate files that I know exist. In explorer, I click in the search box and type "glebe" and hit enter. I know that there are seven filenames beginning with "glebe", plus two other filenames that contain the word "glebe". All files are more than six months old, and thus have had plenty of time to be indexed. It only finds two of the seven filenames beginning with "glebe", and none of the filenames containing "glebe". There does not appear to be any special feature of those two files that differentiates them from the others.

In addition, if I created a file a few hours ago and then try to locate it, there does not appear to be any guarantee that the file will be found. Thus the search is of no use at all; if I can't be certain that every file is found every time I search, I can't be certain that I'm not corrupting my data when I manipulate the files that the search does find because I may be leaving files unedited that must be edited. As the delay between a file being created, renamed or deleted and that change being indexed cannot be predicted by the user, even if the index did work correctly, I cannot be sure of how long to wait before the results become reliable. Therefore, even if the search system could be relied upon to deliver the correct results, this undeterminable delay renders it unusable.

I have tried reindexing the folder, which does not fix the problem but does provide a set of search results that are different, yet equally unreliable. I have tried this on several hundred computers running Windows 7 with identical results.

Additionally, the indexing service causes my computer to grind the hard disk for a large periods at random intervals, making my work inefficient. If I want to search for a file I am happy for the hard disk to be accessed to the extent that the file is located, but I don't want my ability to work efficiently to be impeded by indexing millions of files that I'm statistically unlikely to ever search for.

Can anyone suggest how to change the functionality of Windows search such that I can be 100% certain the results are timely and correct? I am not looking for a third-party tool, which I'll need to run every time I look for a file - I want the in-built search to perform as it once did.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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01 Jan 2012   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Have you tried using wildcards during your search?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jan 2012   #3

Windows 7 Pro x64
 
 

Hi kegobeer,

Yes, it doesn't appear to affect the search results at all, with or without wildcards, prefixed, suffixed or both.

On another note, I just ran a search and it "found" a file that I deleted several hours ago. So it fails to finds files that do exist, but successfully finds files that don't exist.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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01 Jan 2012   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Are these the wildcards you are using?

Advanced Query Syntax - Windows 7 Tutorial

I understand that the 7 search function is pretty crappy, but I'm hoping that some of these advanced syntax search options can help.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jan 2012   #5

Windows 7 Pro x64
 
 

Hi again kegobeer,

Whilst the syntax is interesting, it doesn't help me in this case as I'm only doing a simple filename search.

I wonder what the thought process was at Microsoft where, at first, they decided they needed a new search system that even basic users could use to find files they'd misplaced, but then created a complex search syntax that's required if you want to search on anything other than the filename. Bearing in mind that the functionality was identical in XP (filename, contents, date, size), but it was all driven by a user-friendly menu system. And it actually found what you were looking for.

Cheers,
Beachie.

P.S. If there's someone from Microsoft reading this post, perhaps the easiest solution is for you to walk down to the Search Team office and start punching the person responsible in the face until they fix it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jan 2012   #6
4wd

W8+8.1, W7 ult+hp, XP
 
 

Also got a strong dislike for the Windows 7 search implementation, have more or less given up. Am using Agent Ransack - Free File Searching Utility whenever I need to do any serious searching.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jan 2012   #7

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Beachie View Post
I am not looking for a third-party tool, which I'll need to run every time I look for a file - I want the in-built search to perform as it once did.
Nevertheless... I do highly recommend you consider installing "Everything" as a terrific simple and reliable search tool, for when all you really want to do is find a file... by its full or partial name or any portion of its name.

This is a highly regarded and commonly used index-based search engine utility used by many people on this forum, and is very very simple and basic in how it works, how you set it up, and how you use it. Its index is built once (based on the drives/partition you configure it to monitor), and then whenever you do any file maintenance whatsoever (add, delete, rename, etc.) that index is instantly updated in real time. Every search you do is guaranteed 100% instantaneously accurate and up-to-date.

Essentially it just runs, with an icon in the System Tray that you can use to open its simple interface when you want to search for a file.

Then, you start typing. That's it. As you type the file name the index is simultaneously examined, and all "hits" are shown in the lower portion of the window. The more you type, and the more precise is the "hit list", the list will simply continue to trim itself down more and more as you type. You can use * wildcards just as you'd expect.

This, for my money (namely FREE), is the absolute simplest, fastest, and most useful and effective "file name search mechanism" available. Of course you can also "sort" the hit list on its column headings, launch/open files from the hit list, etc., just as you'd expect.

Try it. I'm sure you will simply stop complaining about not knowing how to use Windows 7's "powerful search" when all you really wanted was the old simple file name search from WinXP. Just use "Everything".
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jan 2012   #8

Windows 7 Pro x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by dsperber View Post
Try it. I'm sure you will simply stop complaining about not knowing how to use Windows 7's "powerful search" when all you really wanted was the old simple file name search from WinXP. Just use "Everything".
Hi dsperber,

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll give it a try, however I'm not really looking for a third-party solution, of which there are many. I would just like the supplied search system to return results that can be relied upon. Also, just to be clear, I'm not complaining about not knowing how to use the search system - I am fully aware how it works - I'm complaining that it never returns accurate results, even for the simplest of filename searches and, even if it did, the indexing delay means I can never know if the search results are up-to-date.

Cheers,
Beachie.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jan 2012   #9

 

IMHO "Everything" is infinitely better than the Microsoft Search which reports the "Green Ribbon Of Death" on any large archive set consistently, regardless of indexing being enabled.

I've used it for ages. And in Windows components I disable the generic search facility
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Jan 2012   #10

 
 

Indexing will slow down when you are doing something. Sure the head on the disk will be moving possibly away from where your activity/work is.

I've tried searching on various things and it seems to work for me.

*slash*

returns filenames with *slash* in them, as well as documents/emails/etc that have the word *slash* INSIDE them.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 File Search in Windows 7 is Unreliable




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