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Outlook 2013 search fails because indexing never completes

Posted on 2013-10-25
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Last Modified: 2013-11-18
Every time I enter some text into the "Search Inbox" field above the list of messages, it displays a message "Search results might be incomplete because items are being indexed" and no actual results appear.

Then, when I click on the message I get a dialog showing me that over 100,000 items are remaining to be indexed.  The actual number never changes even when I click on the message hours later.

I have tried to rebuild the index and even move it to a different folder but the indexing just never completes and the search function is totally useless.

How can I get the indexing to complete so I can actually search in Outlook?
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Question by:KhaiPi
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Accepted Solution

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John Hurst earned 500 total points
ID: 39600239
The indexing in Outlook depends on the indexing in Windows with modern systems.

Go to Programs and Features, Windows Features and make sure Microsoft Search is enabled (selected).

Now go to Control Panel, Indexing Options and make sure in the first tab the locations are correct. In a local system the Outlook PST file is in the users main folder, so make sure it is selected.

Then again in Indexing Options, Advanced Tab, click on Rebuild Index. Check every hour or so to make sure indexing is proceeding.

Once complete, search in Outlook should work just fine.

.... Thinkpads_User
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Expert Comment

by:Sommerblink
ID: 39600878
You don't indicate the version of Windows you're running, but (at least) in Windows 7, the indexer is configured by default to 'backoff' when there is mouse or keyboard activity, which means the indexer is going to take a really, really, really long time to index 100,000 emails.

If you are running Windows 7, I have attached two registry files. One which will disable the backoff function and one that will re-enable the backoff function.

The process you will do is this:

1) Apply the disableIndexBackoff.reg file.
2) Depending on skill-level, either reboot the computer -or- go to Control Panel, Services, find "Windows Search", stop the service and start the service.
3) You can monitor the indexing process by launching "Indexing Options" from the search box.
4) Once complete, apply the "enableIndexBackoff.reg file and either reboot the computer or stop/start the Windows Search service again.

The attached registry key only modifies the following key:
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Search and the value DisableBackoff, setting it to 1 to disable the backoff function and 0 (default) to enable the backoff function.

You can perform the same action yourself, if you don't trust these two files.
enableIndexBackoff.reg
disableIndexBackoff.reg
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 39601012
the indexer is going to take a really, really, really long time to index 100,000 emails.

If I have to re-index (start over) I give it about 4 hours and it will be done or very close to done. You can also run the indexer overnight and it will complete.

I do not make any registry changes to get this done.

.... Thinkpads_User
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Author Comment

by:KhaiPi
ID: 39640982
I am not sure what to do here...

I have waited a while to respond because after I initially tried the solution suggested by @thinkpads_user it showed some promise with the number of items to be indexed gradually coming down over time.  Then, some days later I was able to do searches again in Outlook.

However, a few days later when I again typed something into the search box I again got the original message about the search not being complete because there were items yet to be indexed.

When I checked I found this number to be over 100,00 again!  So then I repeated the entire process, waited a few days and then the complete cycle started over again.

Right now I am able to search but I fear that in a few days (or at any time really) all items will become un-indexed again.

How can I get the indexing to "stick" and what is causing the items to be un-indexed repeatedly?

BTW, I tried the suggestion of @Sommerblink but when I applied the first registry file the Windows Search Service could not shut down or restart so I undid the registry changes.
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LVL 92

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 39641346
There are things that go wrong in an operating system, so that is probably what is happening here.

1. Run System File Checker. Run SFC /SCANNOW and allow to complete. Restart and trying indexing again.

2. Corrupt user profile. Set up a new user profile and try indexing in the new profile. This could be tricky because of a smaller number of items.

3. Run a Windows 7 Repair Install. Here is a Seven Forums Tutorial with instructions on how to do that.

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/3413-repair-install.html

4. Viruses cause issues like this so scan carefully for viruses and malware.

It may be simply easier to back up the machine, reinstall Windows and set it up again.

..... Thinkpads_User
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Author Closing Comment

by:KhaiPi
ID: 39647310
This suggestion did solve my problem but only temporarily.  While I am to search in Outlook *right now*, I am not convinced that this will be the case tomorrow :-(

EIther way, this suggestion was correct so you get my points.
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 39647497
@KhaiPi - Thanks and I was happy to help.

.... Thinkpads_User
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Author Comment

by:KhaiPi
ID: 39656031
Sorry, I forgot to say "thanks" in my closing comment.  So thanks!  Search in Outlook has been working for a while now so fingers crossed...
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