July 07, 2009

Improve Vista’s Performance With Fantastic Free Indexer Gadget

I've been meaning to blog about this handy tool for some time now.  Unless you bought a Netbook or custom ordered your PC online, just about every Windows PC sold within the past two years came preloaded with some version of Windows Vista.  While I prefer Vista's interface and built-in search features to the aging XP platform, Vista definitely leaves something to be desired in the performance department.  I often found my hard drive thrashing at the most inopportune moments, slowing my system down when I needed it the most.  There was seemingly no rhyme or reason for it - until I looked at the system processes and found that the indexer was running amok.

Having indexed files really speeds up performance when you're searching for content on your hard drive - especially when searching within Outlook.  But how often do we do that over the course of a day?  Perhaps just a few minutes or seconds at a time when we're looking for a specific document or e-mail.  The problem is that the rest of the time, we want our apps to launch and run as quickly as possible.

The common cure is to turn off Windows' indexer service altogether, but then you won't be able to search for newly added content since it won't be indexed - which completely defeats the purpose of having an indexer installed in the first place.  Sure, one could use an alternate desktop search tool, but if you're otherwise happy with the built-in Windows search service, it's nice to have it run on your terms.

Enter a fantastic Vista gadget that has significantly reclaimed my system performance and my sanity when using Vista:


BrandonTools offers the Windows Indexer Status gadget, which allows you to:

  • Stop and start the indexing service (this is the best benefit for improving Vista's performance)
  • Monitor the current state of the indexer
  • See how many items need to be processed
  • View the total count of indexed items
  • Open the Indexing Options control panel
  • View the installed Windows Search version number
  • Multiple backgrounds / color combinations

Just so you're aware, if you're running as a standard user account in Vista (which you should for security reasons), you'll need to enter an administrator password when starting or stopping the indexer service (via the "play" and "pause" buttons on the gadget).  This is a very small annoyance to eliminate a much bigger one.  The nice thing is you only need to run the Windows Sidebar when you want to start or stop the indexer service.  Otherwise, you can close the Sidebar to free up memory and increase your CPU performance even further.

It works with Windows Search versions 3.0 and 4.0.  Windows Search 3.0 comes built-in with Vista, and version 4.0 is available as a free download from Microsoft.

Topic(s):   Mobile Tech & Gadgets  |  Trick or Treat
Posted by Jeff Beard