Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Windows Desktop Search killing my disk space

I've been dealing with the "low disk space" warning on my home computer (XP) for a week or two and trying to use the Windows tools to free space with limited success. I had finally decided I just needed to get a bigger drive (although I felt like 80GB should be big enough) but in a last ditch effort to free up space, I started going through the folders on my machine to hunt down the culprit. I finally found that the Windows Desktop Search utility, which I never intended to use but which was automatically installed and configured on my machine, was eating up 25GB of space!

I can't believe that I am the only one to ever see this problem but I couldn't find anything online. I disabled it by telling it to not index anything, manual shut it down with the command prompt command: "net stop wsearch" and then deleted the application data folder. No problems so far but that was a serious pain for something I never wanted to begin with.


Unknown said...

So where is the Windows Desktop Search utility located, how do I find out how much it's sucking up in disk space, and most importantly, how do I turn it off?

Ross said...

Disclaimer: I don't seem to be able to restart Windows Desktop Search so I don't recommend doing what I did.

That said, this is what I did: If the Windows Desktop Search is running on your machine, it should show up as a magnifying glass in your system tray (bottom right for most). Right click on it and select 'Windows Desktop Search Options...'. From here, you can remove all folders that are being searched.

Next, I stopped Windows Desktop Search using the Command Prompt command 'net stop wsearch' to stop it from accessing the files I wanted to delete.

Last, I tracked down and deleted the files. In my case it was easy because it was so huge, I just checked folder properties until I found it. It should be under 'Application Data\Microsoft\Search' which is hidden by default so you have to go to 'Tools->Folder Options' and select 'Show Hidden Files and Folders' on the 'View' tab. This is the folder it was in on my computer: 'C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\Search'.

Disclaimer2: This information may not be accurate for all computers and again, I don't recommend deleting the files like I did.

Ross said...

Update: I've since learned about a tool called WinDirStat that will make finding your search index (or any other disk space consuming file) very easy. I talk about it here.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the info and follow up!