Damaged Search Service


Senior Member
My system has been having a lot of problems today and, after a good two hours of trouble shooting, I finally narrowed the issue down to the Search Service, which must have gotten damaged or corrupted somehow. Here's the problems.

1. When the search service is running, IE8 and Word 2010 frequently crash either while loading or while running. With the search service disabled, they work fine. It also has a tendency to crash Windows Explorer. Once any of the above crash, they remain inoperable until the computer is restarted.

2. When the search service is running, my computer hangs on shut down and I eventually have to shut it off via the power button. When the search service is disabled, it shuts down normally.

3. The search service cannot be stopped while it's running. Instead the computer needs to be restarted after it's disabled in msconfig

I'm running Windows 7 Ultimate (fully updated) on a Dell Studio XPS laptop and, until last night, everything was working perfectly. Naturally I could just leave search disabled, but I'd rather not as I use it quite a lot. So far I've tried deleting and rebuilding the search index (the rebuild hung on the first file and never made any progress after that) and deleting all the contents of the ProgramData > Microsoft > Search folder (Windows restored the files after a reboot, but the problems remained).

I also tried to roll everything back with system restore but I just get an error saying that system restore failed when trying to restore the registry so no changes were made (this happened on multiple attempts both from Windows proper and from the boot menu).

So, is there any way to repair the Search Service without resorting to a complete repair or reinstall of Windows? Maybe some files I can delete or replace? Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
One way to rebuild system files is the System File Checker. You might try running that to see if it can see any problems. But, I have seen situations where if the backup files are also corrupted, it won't help. Open an administrative command window and type:
SFC /scannow

I suppose running a hard drive check could help.

Have you tried removing locations from the indexing list, which might be different from rebuilding the index. Perhaps that are corrupted files in your search area and causing a problem. Or you may be attempting to index/search a location that is not available, such as a flash drive or other external source, maybe even something on your network. Possibly rebuilding the index would have covered these possibilities, but not sure.

There is a Search and Indexing troubleshooter if you have not tried that. I once had a file that was not searchable put there by a backup program. I narrowed it down by searching individual folders until I found one that was not finishing a search. Removing the offending file fixed the problem.

If you continue to have problems, there may be something else on your system corrupting your install.

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Senior Member
Thanks for the advice! Unfortunately, the System File Checker seems to ignore all the files related to Windows Search. However, it's looking like I might have just fixed the problem (though I'm not entirely sure how).

I finally managed to find all the executable files tied into search and moved them in hopes that Windows would rebuild them. It didn't, so I ended up with search completely disabled. It wouldn't turn back on either. Since I figured a half working search was better than none, I tried another system restore. My good restore point still didn't work so I tried a newer restore point from after the problem has started. In the end, I got an error message saying that the restore had an unspecified error and had failed... Yet search is on again, my index seems to be slowly rebuilding and, for the moment anyway, nothing is crashing... So I'm going to cross my fingers and hope for the best. If things go wrong again, I'll take your other piece of advice and search my indexed folders for a problem file.


Senior Member
Guess it's not quite fixed after all. Nothing is crashing yet, but the index stopped rebuilding after getting to 126 items and my system is hanging on shut down again. I'm going to clear the database and start adding index locations back one at a time and see what happens...

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