Windows 8.1 search slowness

Posted on 2014-02-07
Last Modified: 2014-02-19
We're having a search problem on a domain with Server 2008 R2 and Windows 8.1 workstations.  We are in the process of upgrading from Vista to 8.1 for all users on the domain.  We have about 15 or so users who've just upgraded and they are secretaries who are all very used to using the Search bar in File Explorer to find files.  For the same search, in Vista the results are instantaneous, while on a Windows 8.1 system it takes anywhere from 15-20 seconds to minutes to find the same list of files or folders.

Some interesting behaviors on the 8.1 workstations:  

The folder organization is that there is a top level shared folder named Documents. This folder is 127GB in size with about 566,000 files in 169,000 folders.  Within Documents is a series of subfolders with numerical names and well as some alpha names. Searching after drilling down one subfolder level works faster than searching at the top-level folder. But of course it narrows the search considerably.  

Most strange to me is the search process. It seems somehow to be linked to 3 characters.  If I type in 123 instead of 1234, it finds first all the folders that start with 123 with a space after it, then the file names that contain 123 at the beginning of a word within the file name, and then goes on to find folder names with 123 with some other character after it. It takes 5-6 minutes before it finds the 1234 or 1235, etc., folders. Typing in more characters to define the search better doesn't seem to speed things up at all in reality, although it seems faster assuming that your desired results are file names rather than folder names.

I'm thinking that this has something to do with the Windows 8.1 search algorithm, but I can't find any solid information on this.  I also can't find any articles in my Internet searches so far describing this issue or how to fix it. However, the fact that it takes so long to find a 4- or 5-character series is ridiculous.

Does anyone have experience with this?  This is a SMB environment and both file servers have other roles as well (DC, Exchange server, etc.).  I've had bad experiences in the past with the Indexing and Windows Search products taking far too much of the server resources and ending up slowing things down even more, so I don't have either of those running on the file servers.
Question by:Hypercat (Deb)
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LVL 54

Expert Comment

ID: 39842780

I administer some vistas and 8.1ers.
Without the index being produced at the server, searches were not fast with vista - I wonder why they appear fast to you. They need the server- based index.
So for a test, please index one directory
LVL 38

Author Comment

by:Hypercat (Deb)
ID: 39843065
The change we made to the Vista machines is in the options for the search. We set it to search only file and folder names for non-indexed locations.  We didn't need to have full-text searching for the purposes that it was being used, and turning it off sped up the searches on the Vista machines very effectively. On Windows 8, it's the opposite - you have to select full text searching to have it do that, so by default the Windows 8 machines are set to search only file and folder names as we want it to do.
LVL 54

Accepted Solution

McKnife earned 500 total points
ID: 39858586
Ok. What I can offer: we migrate this network here right now from vista to 8.1.
If you could zip such a folder with (harmless) docs, I could take a look at it and reproduce it as I am interested myself.

How we search: we have our file servers indexed using Microsoft search server express 2010. It integrates in windows explorer and is a lightning fast index and the results are good. We have about 2 million files indexed.

Before, with vista, we had many problems with search not finding things - that search is buggy and I would not wonder if it is still buggy with 8.1
LVL 38

Assisted Solution

by:Hypercat (Deb)
Hypercat (Deb) earned 0 total points
ID: 39859188
Thanks for your comments, McKnife.  I'm going to give you some points for your contribution.  I was reluctant to try Windows Search because my experiences with the earlier Windows Destop Search program and Vista were not good. However, I finally broke down due to the loud voices of complaining users and installed the Windows Search service on the server as a test.  I was impressed - it really improved the search speed, although it doesn't quite present the search results in the preferred order. However, it's a great improvement. I'm going to close this question with that as the solution.
LVL 38

Author Closing Comment

by:Hypercat (Deb)
ID: 39869809
I solved the issue for the most part by installing the Windows Search service on the file server.  I can't give it an "A" only because there are still things I don't like about how the Windows Search service presents the search results, but it's greatly improved from previous versions, for our needs.

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