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Windows 7 - Searching file contents on a SBS Server 2011 mapped drive

Posted on 2014-12-15
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Last Modified: 2014-12-17
Hi,

We are running Windows 7 Pro x64 on our workstations and our server is SBS Essentials 2011.

When searching for files that contain, for example, the word "earthquake" on the local drive C:, we get the results just fine.

But, we want to search a folder on our server drive. It contains many PDF documents. When we search for "earthquake" (within the document(s) text itself), it always returns zero files.

What are we doing wrong?

Thanks in advance.
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Question by:Go-Bruins
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Assisted Solution

by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 200 total points
ID: 40501030
Make sure in Control Panel, Indexing Options, Advanced Options, File Types that the PDF type is set for Content Search (Radio Button Selection below the main window). See if that works. I also use the Free Foxit desktop iFilter to assist with PDF searches.
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Expert Comment

by:Frosty555
ID: 40501037
Nothing is wrong, this is by design.

Windows does not index the contents of network drives. Because of this, the search feature does not search the contents of files on network drives. It is possible to force Windows to index a particular network location but you must manually configure Windows to do so.

Read more here:

http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles-tutorials/windows-7/Exploring-Windows-7s-New-Search-Features-Part3.html
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40501069
Thank you. If I am reading this right, it looks like I have to "cache" a network folder by choosing "Always available offline".

The problem for us may be that the network folder is *huge*, and the workstations have SSD drives with limited capacity.

Are we just out of luck?
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 40501076
Did you try my suggestion above?  If that does not work, look at the Foxit site for search solutions. It is NOT free, however.
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40501108
Hi John. Yes, I tried your suggestion. It searches the contents of PDF files just fine in the local C drive, but not the network drive.

I think it's related to the fact that I'm trying to search a network drive.
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Expert Comment

by:Frosty555
ID: 40501115
If the network drive is huge, then it *must* be indexed in one way or another, because trying to search the contents of the files without one would require your computer to read the entire contents of the network share, every time you do a search. That is unfeasible, of course.

The built in Windows 7 search feature is not suitable for your needs. What you need is for the SERVER to do the indexing and searching. The local workstation just asks the server and gets back the results.

I'm sure that this exists, but I haven't personally implemented anything like that myself so I don't know exactly which technology is the one you need.

Maybe the Windows Search Service role on the server?
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/olavt/archive/2007/05/07/howto-enable-windows-search-service-in-longhorn-server.aspx
https://www.cloudtec.ch/blog/tech/add-search-indexed-network-share-windows-library.html

Or Microsoft Search Server?
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd183108%28v=office.14%29.aspx

Also there are lots of third party products designed to index and make a fileserver searchable. I think Google even had a search appliance that did this at some point. But again I don't any specific experience with it.

These things are all getting outside of the scope of a single SBS 2011 server, though. For this to work effectively your fileserver should be a separate, dedicated server. That might mean migrating away from SBS 2011 or maybe storing your big network share on a NAS or some other kind of dedicated fileserver that can co-exist with SBS 2011 without violating any licensing terms.
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40501151
I'm going to try the links. They look like good leads.

How do other small network admins handle this issue? It seems like an issue that would be pertinent to almost every network admin out there? And I can't imagine many of them would want to deploy a Search Server?
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 40501163
Look at the Foxit server product. This is a software search.
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40501354
Now I'm wondering if SBS "Essentials" 2011 even has the Windows Search Service? (please see attached pic).

CaptureRoles.JPG
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Accepted Solution

by:
Frosty555 earned 300 total points
ID: 40501809
The search service is a feature of the "File Services" role, under Server Manager->Roles->File Services->Add Role Services->Windows Search Service. On my test install of SBS 2011 it was already installed by default. You might need to explicitly make sure that the server is indexing your desired folders and contents (on the SBS machine, go to Start->Indexing Options)

I think for the WIndows client to use the Search Service on the server you need to add the network share as a Library on the client. See here:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/sbs/archive/2010/04/05/find-items-faster-with-windows-search-and-libraries.aspx

The Windows Search Service uses IFilters to search the contents of files. And as John Hurst said the Foxit PDF IFilter software might be necessary to search the contents of PDFs... (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/products/ifilter/). On my test SBS 2011 machine there was no IFilter available for PDF files.

Like I said too there are many other commercial "file server search engine" products available that let you index and catalog the contents of a file server, and search it from a client (usually a web browser). Including Windows Search Server (http://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/download/details.aspx?id=18914)
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40501944
Thank you. I'll delve into the options above and report back.
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40502858
Hi, so it does indeed look like the Windows Search Service is installed and running:

Capture.JPG
And it does look like the iFilter is missing:

Capture2.JPG
Let me hunt around for that iFilter, and I'll report back again.
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40502864
So Adobe seems to offer the PDF iFilter for x64 systems here:

http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=5542

But I want to be sure before I install anything on the Server. Does the above look safe and effective?
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 40502873
The link looks safe and is an Adobe link. I think it derives from Foxit iFilter but I am not certain.
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40502947
So to be clear, this is something I install once on the server, and the workstations will be able to search the PDF files? This is w/o having to install the iFilter on the workstation(s) itself?
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40502982
What I use goes on the workstation. Foxit has a Server product as well.

I do not know about the Adobe product.
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by:Frosty555
ID: 40503840
The IFilter is installed on the server, yes.

But it is probably a good idea to install on the clients too for completeness (clients would use the IFilter to index and search files on their own local system). It comes as an MSI, so you could install it via a group policy

Some more instructions are here:
http://www.adobe.com/devnet-docs/acrobatetk/tools/AdminGuide/Acrobat_Reader_IFilter_configuration.pdf
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Author Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40503928
I think I'm closing in on a good understanding of this process. These are my steps so far.

1. Make sure Windows Search Services is installed and running on the server.
2. Install the PDF iFilter on the Server.
3. Install the PDF iFilter on the Workstation(s).
4. Include the Network Folder in the Workstation's Library.

It all seems to be working fine....

It appears that after I add a Network Folder to a Workstation Library, the Workstation goes about indexing the contents of the Network Folder. It appears to store the index locally, and I cannot change the location of the index to a network drive. I was hoping I could move the index so that I could save the write cycles on the SSD drive. I'm assuming there are no workarounds to store the index to a network drive?

It appears to a neophyte like me that all the searching and indexing is happening on the Workstation. If that's the case, what's the point of having the Server duplicate the Searching and Indexing?
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Author Closing Comment

by:Go-Bruins
ID: 40505005
Thanks to all.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40505015
@Go-Bruins  - You are very welcome and I was happy to help
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