What is Enhanced Search (Indexing Options) in Windows 10?

Windows 10 1903 (codenamed “19H1”) introduces a new search option named Enhanced under Find My Files section in the Settings page. Many users may be wondering what is the “Enhanced” setting all about, and what’s the difference between Classic and Enhanced search options.

What is Enhanced Search in Windows 10

What is “Enhanced” Search in Windows 10?

Windows 10 by default indexes the user profile folders and the Start menu folder with the exception of AppData and sub-folders.

What is Enhanced Search in Windows 10

The Indexing Options applet in the Control Panel also allows you to add more locations for Windows Search indexing.

This has been the way the Windows Search worked in Windows Vista through Windows 10.

Whereas, the Enhanced search option introduced in Windows 10 version 1903 indexes the entire contents of your computer, all hard drives, and partitions by default.

To enable Enhanced search, open SettingsSearchSearchSearching Windows → Find My Files → Enhanced

Here is how Microsoft describes the setting:

Search your entire PC, including your libraries and desktop. Customize excluded search locations below. Choosing this option may reduce your battery life and increase CPU consumption.

After you change the setting to Enhanced, the search indexer begins indexing the additional files. The indexing status is updated in the Settings page.

Your AppData, Program Files, Program Files (x86), ProgramData, Windows and other temporary folders are excluded by default.



You can add more locations to the exclusions list via SettingsSearchSearchSearching Windows

What is Enhanced Search in Windows 10

Classic vs Enhanced search

Essentially, when to do a file or folder search, Windows Search finds all your matching items regardless of the Classic or Enhanced setting. But, searches are slow when querying for items in non-indexed locations. Since the Enhanced option adds the entire contents in the PC to the search index, the search results appear much faster and searching by file metadata ought to fetch results quickly. That’s the only difference between Classic and Enhanced search modes.

So, Classic vs. Enhanced is like the Opt-in vs. Opt-out model.

  • Classic: Indexes your user profile folders and Start menu (with pre-defined exclusions), with an option to include additional folders.
  • Enhanced: Indexes the entire PC (with pre-defined exclusions), with an option to exclude specific folders.

As the search indexing is a CPU intensive task, the initial crawl or search indexing is done during idle time and when connected to AC power in case of notebooks. When the indexing is complete, you’ll be able to find all your files almost instantly when you use search.

Editor’s note: I’d stick with the Classic option as I have only 4 or 5 custom folder paths which I’d add to the indexed locations. Indexing the entire drive may be beneficial if you have hundreds of folders scattered all over the drive(s) and adding each folder to the indexed locations list is not preferred.

Indexing the entire drive results in the search database size becoming huge, and resetting/rebuilding the search index every time would consume substantial resources. It’s advisable to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the Enhanced option and consider your actual requirement.


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About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 10 consecutive years from 2003 to 2012.

1 thought on “What is Enhanced Search (Indexing Options) in Windows 10?”

  1. Very good explanation. Exactly what I was looking for, It helped me to realize that sticking with classic is the better alternative for me as well since my folders are somewhat organized. Thanks!

    Reply

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