back to article Don't let Windows Indexing Service know too much

The Windows Indexing Service catalogues the contents of your hard disk, and even the contents of files, to make local searching faster. This service creates and later consults a number of small databases containing data about your disk's contents, including the actual contents of files, which can undermine the practice of good …


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  1. Alan Davies

    Good Points

    There are some particularly good points there, but any educated PC owner would disable the indexing service and install Google Desktop.

  2. Keith Doyle

    Careful wiping files...

    Oracle uses a lot of .idx files, and there may be other apps that happened to pick one of the same extensions Microsoft chose for index files. If you wipe all these things indiscriminately, you may find some of your apps no longer work or you've lost valuable data... Exercise these instructions with care...

  3. Jack

    Mac Indexing?

    I know this is out-of-scope for a Windows discussion, but do you know what the security implications are for using the indexing service in OS X?

    I assume indexing works in much the same way on both systems, by storing information in some form of .dat file. Apple claims that files in /usr are strongly encrypted and unrecoverable without the user password even by them - but this means little if you are not the administrator, doesn't it?

    Suggestions? Warnings? Pointers to reliable sources of info on this?

    Thanks in advance.

  4. Kurt Faasse

    People actually use Windows Explorer?

    I use TotalCommander, have for years. People who rely exclusively on Windows' own utilities are "special" IMHO.

  5. James Cleveland

    So what

    now a news site is offering step by step to remove a windows feature which only a small minority would be consider invasive?

    I thought this was a tech site not

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Count me in

    I'm part of the apparently "small minority" that considers that a good Windows in one with a minimum of services. I have always disabled the indexing service on every PC I work on.

    Personally, I see no interest in having a search utility when you know where your files are. It's a little thing called organization. There are people that need to look it up.

  7. John Kirkham

    Indexing is a hog !

    Every time I've worked on a PC I've disabled the indexing service. It is a complete waste of time. Why it's enabled by default I'll never know. I've changed people's mind on upgrading a laptop/PC just by turning indexing off. As for Google search or any other toolbar, they're worse, in both privacy and processor hogging.

    Just organise your stuff better, re-name your files more coherently and within proper context. The other thing is, with business data base apps, they have their own inbuilt search logic that Windows doesn't use anyway.

  8. Dave McEneaney

    Not exactly helpful...

    Without detracting from what is, in my opinion, a very well written article...

    This is just the kindof thing that an IT 'manager' (e.g. not techy) would read and start whining to system administrators to implement across a whole network. I can see the conversation now "Could you delete everyone's index.dat files in the logoff script? Can we re-ghost a machine at the start of each week for 'privacy' reasons?"

    On another note, the most wonderous feature I've found of Vista, is been able to hit the 'start' button on my keyboard, and type in the name of a document, email, customer, MP3, picture or whatever, and have my PC instantly return a list of matching files from my 'profile' folders (e.g. documents, music, pictures) - which, incidentally, can now be pointed at any location on my computer that I see fit (e.g. my encrypted 'data' drive).

  9. Léon

    Re: People actually use Windows Explorer?

    I do. And i can imagine an environment where people aren't allowed to install 3rd party software to keep the whole system stable. Even though the application might work better and is proven stable, there's no guarantee that it doesn't interfere with other applications/resources/services/younameit.

    Looking from a supporter's perspective, what would you rather support: an application that is part of the OS, and as such is tested thoroughly in combination with the OS, or a 3rd party application? I think that if you answer the latter, you haven't dealt with my users and their wishes :)

  10. Albert Stienstra

    This will really slow down your Vista system

    This advice will really slow down a Windows Vista system. I'm sure the statement will elicit funny remarks like "does anyone use Windows Vista?" etc. but those one or two people that use or plan to use Vista had better not follow the advice. I have had a broken index on my system, due to a previous paranoid "advice" to wipe clear space. My PC took far too much time in finding files for programs to use, in finding directory items, thumbnails etc. Very annoying. After rebuilding the index, which takes time, the machine was as fast as ever. Lovely.

  11. Tim

    What could slow down an already horrid OS?

    "My PC took far too much time in finding files for programs to use, in finding directory items, thumbnails etc. Very annoying. After rebuilding the index, which takes time, the machine was as fast as ever. Lovely."

    You are missing the whole point. The OS shouldn't take eons to locate files in the first place. The system is obviously so bloated it has to use another service to "find" itself. Wonderful.


  12. Herr Ober

    Protecting Registry Keys

    Regarding HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Search Assistant\ACMru keys.

    You can actually set permissions for Full Control and Special to Deny while Allowing Read.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't waste time trying to harden windows...

    It's an exercise in futility.

    If you absolutely must run Windows, and absolutely need privacy for your online um... activities, use a virtual machine manager like VMWare to run a virtual BSD or UX image with KDE or your favourite equivalent. Most semi decent modern machines out there should be able to handle this with minimal difficulty.

    Strong software encryption should then be used on the image file, completely masking whatever crud you might have to hide on the virtual machine.

  14. Herr Ober

    Don't waste time wearing hard hat at a construction site

    As futilie as this might seem, it is better than default config.

    If you want absolute security - place your machine in a bomb proof shelter, set timed device to destroy the machine unless 4096 char case sensitive code is entered in 15 seconds, don't even configure a network and hash all your files. create auditing logs and spend rest of your days analysing them.....

    I am just waiting for OSX and Lin to become popular enough to be next targets of preference...

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