Forum Thread

Windows 7 file search bar not working

mikenmike0001 2,817 276 June 11, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Hi,

This happens to me from time to time when using this Windows 7 64 bit built in search toolbar that you get from microsoft whenever you open up an explorer window (you always see it on the top right corner of the window below the minimize and close icons).

I was able to use the file search filter a few days ago and got some video files I was watching from a folder that had over 800 files without a problem. Earlier today, my computer froze and I had to reboot the computer. After I got in, I tried to filter the same results again from the same folder and I get in the results "no items match your search". I'm looking right at the file names and file types before I run the search, and when I type them in, either by file name ,or use the * symbol to look just for the similar file types, I don't get any results at all. This was from the main "Download" folder

I tested this with other main folders like My Documents and My Pictures. I have the same result happen. It's bizarre. It's like my windows file search is corrupted or something. I can't figure out how to fix it.

I clicked on the windows icon on the bottom left corner of the desktop and used that search bar to looked up search index, and ran the program that says "find and fix problems within windows search". It didn't find anything wrong.

I ruled out that it's not malware or a virus since I ran malwarebytes already and norton security suite has been running continuously.

Does anyone know how to fix this?


Here's some snapshots of the problem before and after given a set of files and the result of using the windows file search toolbar afterwards.

On SkyDrive:

http://sdrv.ms/N6OgIl


Hope to get some help.

26 Comments

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Joined Aug 2007
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#2
Sounds like your index is f'd up. Try this -

Control Panel
Indexing Options
Advanced
Rebuild button

This will delete your existing index & rebuild it. It could take a LONG time to reindex, so maybe start it before you go to bed & let it run overnight. Then try your searches again in the morning & see if they're better.
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#3
Your best chance of getting it to work again is to do a Disk Check/repair, and select both options when you schedule it.
There appears to be a corruption. It has nothing to do with indexing, as indexing is just to give you instant results. The search feature works even with Windows Search/indexing turned off.
If you cannot get it to work from doing a disk check, then you would probably need to reinstall Windows to ever get it to work properly again.
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Last edited by RockySosua June 12, 2012 at 05:04 PM
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#4
Where is the disk check repair option? Does it require a reboot?

I'll try that first and if that doesn't work, I'll go through the other tip and try to rebuild the index. I'll keep you both updated.

I hope I don't have to reinstall windows. I don't have an external hard drive to back up the 7 years of personal files and contents on this hard drive to do it.
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Last edited by mikenmike0001 June 12, 2012 at 04:20 PM
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#5
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
Your best chance of getting it to work again is to do a Disk Check/repair, and select both options when you schedule it.
There appears to be a corruption. It has nothing to do with indexing, as indexing is just to give you instant results. The search feature works even with Windows Search/indexing turned off.
If you cannot get it to work from doing a disk check, then you would probably need to reinstall Windows to ever get it to work properly again.
Hey Thanks, After it took 5 hours to run the disk error check completely and I was able to log back into windows to test out the windows file search toolbar on My Pictures and Download folders, I tested out some file names and file formats that I knew would come up a lot of results, and THEY APPEARED!bounce

I took a snapshot and added it to the SKYDRIVE

http://sdrv.ms/N6OgIl

Thanks for the tip. Repped you.


At this point, I don't know if I should plan on doing a index rebuild or not just for safe measures or if that will risk causing more problems if I do it again.

What do you think?
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#6
Quote from mikenmike0001 View Post :
Hey Thanks, After it took 5 hours to run the disk error check completely and I was able to log back into windows to test out the windows file search toolbar on My Pictures and Download folders, I tested out some file names and file formats that I knew would come up a lot of results, and THEY APPEARED!bounce

I took a snapshot and added it to the SKYDRIVE

http://sdrv.ms/N6OgIl

Thanks for the tip. Repped you.


At this point, I don't know if I should plan on doing a index rebuild or not just for safe measures or if that will risk causing more problems if I do it again.

What do you think?
That's great news.
The fact that it took 5 hours, is an indication that the hard drive was in bad shape.
It may be fine now, but there's always a chance that it's on its way out, so backing everything up would be a good idea.
I always turn indexing (Windows Search) off in Services. It slows the computer down when running and causes premature wear.
That being said, anyone who uses the search feature frequently and would like instant results, might prefer having it on at all times.
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#7
Good call, Rocky!

OP, if the search is working normally again, no need to re-index.

HOWEVER - I'll second that you want to be sure that you have a current backup. Your drive may be getting ready to fail on you - those errors are usually an indication that something is going wrong & it could get worse over time.
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#8
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
That's great news.
The fact that it took 5 hours, is an indication that the hard drive was in bad shape.
It may be fine now, but there's always a chance that it's on its way out, so backing everything up would be a good idea.
I always turn indexing (Windows Search) off in Services. It slows the computer down when running and causes premature wear.
That being said, anyone who uses the search feature frequently and would like instant results, might prefer having it on at all times.

OH NO!! I don't know what happened, apparently this file search feature in Windows 7 for me is an On and Off problem.

I posted last time that it was working fine and tested it out on multiple main folders that are preexisting in the windows 7 system like My Pictures, Download, My Documents.

Today, I just tested it and I'm having the same problem again. I took some more snapshots, trying to do the same type of search again. This was in My Pictures. I also did a search a few times under Download of files that exist in the folder, and they weren't being pulled up, although I didn't take snap shots of that folder.

Here's a couple of updated snapshots labeled "June 15"

http://sdrv.ms/N6OgIl

I think what I'm going to do tonight is try to rebuild the index. That's the only other option that someone here (Jeffbx) mentioned that may work.

I don't think it's a virus or anything that's causing this because I have Norton Security Suite running all the time.

The only thing that I've been doing since the last post is surfing the internet, using MS Word and Notepad, and recently today, I ran a windows update and restarted the computer. It appeared to be working as of yesterday. I hadn't rebooted the computer since the last post though, been making it go to sleep when I don't use it.

Whatever it is, I hope there's some log in the windows system that I can get that you guys can check out.

Will post an update tomorrow with whether or not the rebuild of the index helped.

By the way, I think the Disk Error Check on reboot took 5 hours was because I have a ton of files (I currently have 97.3 gb free out of a 453 GB hard drive)
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Last edited by mikenmike0001 June 15, 2012 at 08:29 PM

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#9
Let's talk about Windows indexing in layman's terms.
Imagine an auto parts dealer who has a giant warehouse and he keeps adding new parts to his inventory.
He won't rearrange his inventory every single time he receives a new part or he would be doing that all day.
Instead, he puts the parts on the shelves as he receives them, then puts every part in a list, which he then alphabetizes.
Now a client comes in and when he asks for a part, the dealer looks at his list alphabetically and immediately finds where the part is stored.
In short, indexing doesn't make the search work, it only makes it faster.
As a result of knowing that, you can be 100% sure that the problem you have is not related to indexing.
If indexing the whole system did help a bit, it would only be a band aid solution and temporary at best.

So now that we know that indexing (known as Windows Search in "Services") has nothing to do with the problem, a few possibilities exist.
Yes a virus or malware could cause the problem, but it is HIGHLY unlikely.
All evidence points to a corrupt files.
So let's talk about that and how it happens.
The more that a hard drive is strained, running hot and hard, the faster that it is going to fail. On the way to failing, it may get glitchy as sectors get corrupt. Doing a disk check/repair, can solve that problem, but if the drive itself is on the way out, it will start failing again in a short period of time.
One of factors that leads to a hard drive working so hard that it leads to premature failure, is if it is too full, as yours is.
You should never have more than 50% used space in a hard drive that also holds the OS (Operating System).
It's like a person working with a big load on his back, until he can't perform properly and eventually dies.
So, the most logical conclusion at this point in time, is that when you repaired the hard drive with Disk Check, it worked fine, until the load was too much for it again, and now its back to screwing up.
The one and only solution in a case like that, is to replace the hard drive.

The evidence points to your hard drive being damaged, but it is not 100% conclusive. It is just the most likely reason for your search problems.
There is a chance that the OS itself is so corrupt that it does flaky glitchy stuff, and that if you copied all your data elsewhere and reinstalled Windows, that it might work properly for a long time, but if you put all that data back in again, it'll soon overload by working too hard.
There is also a chance that some unknown factor is causing the problem, something that I have never seen or heard of before. The chances are very slim, but there is a tiny chance.
In my mind, it's 90% sure that the hard drive is damaged and only a new one will solve the problem.
It is 9% sure that only the OS is corrupt and needs to be reinstalled.
It's 1% sure that there is some mystery problem that I have never run into.

All this is just my opinion, of course, but that's how I see it.
If it were me, I would get all the personal data copied over to an external drive ASAP.
I would try testing out the hard drive in various ways, maybe even installing Windows on it and giving it a trial run, but I would be fairly sure that the hard drive itself was the guilty party, even if I found nothing at first.
If the OS worked fine for a week, then I might conclude that it was just the OS that was corrupt and that now it's fine.
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Last edited by RockySosua June 16, 2012 at 12:17 PM
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#10
Oh okay. Thank RockySosua.

Well, it seems it's going to be a while before I can buy an external hard drive and copy all of my files over to it to reinstall windows. I have an Acer Aspire laptop and it didn't come with any Windows 7 disks, only preinstalled with Windows 7 Home. I think there's a built in recovery that will reinstall everything that is a separate partition on the hard drive, so if I replace the hard drive, I won't be able to go into the recovery process to reinstall the OS.

I wonder if there's any programs to check on the health off the hard drive to see if it's the reason why this problem with the windows search is happening since you said the hard drive may be damaged. There should be software that can run a diagnostic check on it right?

Also, since this is a laptop, I don't know for sure, but I don't think it's easy to take it about and find a hard drive that's the right size and easy install right?
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#11
There are programs for checking hard drives but the ones I use cost, so we'll need other SD'ers to suggest the free ones.
If I were in your situation, I'd be in a rush to copy all my data, just in case, so if buying an external hard drive is out of the question right now, burn the data to DVD's.
Next is the new installation on a new hard drive, if that is what you land up having to do.
If nothing else, you could download Win 7 from the internet, or borrow a disk from a friend, as long as it is the same version so that you can activate it with your key.
Another trick would be, after copying all your data, to use the built in recovery to have a nice clean copy running, then quickly make an image of it onto an external hard drive. Then, if the hard drive does start giving you trouble and you have to change it, you'll have an image to install.

This is the short of it.
1) You really need to have a copy of all your data. Even if your hard drive didn't look like it was dying, it would still be a wise move.
2) Getting an external hard drive should be high on your priority list.
3) If you have your data copied and you use the restore partition to reinstall Windows, you will soon find out if your problem was the OS itself, or a hard drive that is dying.
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#12
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
There are programs for checking hard drives but the ones I use cost, so we'll need other SD'ers to suggest the free ones.
If I were in your situation, I'd be in a rush to copy all my data, just in case, so if buying an external hard drive is out of the question right now, burn the data to DVD's.
Next is the new installation on a new hard drive, if that is what you land up having to do.
If nothing else, you could download Win 7 from the internet, or borrow a disk from a friend, as long as it is the same version so that you can activate it with your key.
Another trick would be, after copying all your data, to use the built in recovery to have a nice clean copy running, then quickly make an image of it onto an external hard drive. Then, if the hard drive does start giving you trouble and you have to change it, you'll have an image to install.

This is the short of it.
1) You really need to have a copy of all your data. Even if your hard drive didn't look like it was dying, it would still be a wise move.
2) Getting an external hard drive should be high on your priority list.
3) If you have your data copied and you use the restore partition to reinstall Windows, you will soon find out if your problem was the OS itself, or a hard drive that is dying.
I would make #3 -> #4 instead, before doing a restore download the drive utilities from the makers webpage and do a test with those first.

I also agree backup everything now, go to bestbuy and buy a drive tonight and do not use the computer until you backed everything up. Damaged drives tend to go fast so as soon as a damage is suspected to a drive its always important to stop using the device until you have back it up entirely.
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....


...
Joined Jan 2009
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#13
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
There are programs for checking hard drives but the ones I use cost, so we'll need other SD'ers to suggest the free ones.
If I were in your situation, I'd be in a rush to copy all my data, just in case, so if buying an external hard drive is out of the question right now, burn the data to DVD's.
Next is the new installation on a new hard drive, if that is what you land up having to do.
If nothing else, you could download Win 7 from the internet, or borrow a disk from a friend, as long as it is the same version so that you can activate it with your key.
Another trick would be, after copying all your data, to use the built in recovery to have a nice clean copy running, then quickly make an image of it onto an external hard drive. Then, if the hard drive does start giving you trouble and you have to change it, you'll have an image to install.

This is the short of it.
1) You really need to have a copy of all your data. Even if your hard drive didn't look like it was dying, it would still be a wise move.
2) Getting an external hard drive should be high on your priority list.
3) If you have your data copied and you use the restore partition to reinstall Windows, you will soon find out if your problem was the OS itself, or a hard drive that is dying.
You said when you use the built in recover to have a nice clean copy running to make an image of it. How do you use that and what software do you use to do it? The image saves a copy of an OS Install?


Quote from mrbobhcrhs View Post :
I would make #3 -> #4 instead, before doing a restore download the drive utilities from the makers webpage and do a test with those first.

I also agree backup everything now, go to bestbuy and buy a drive tonight and do not use the computer until you backed everything up. Damaged drives tend to go fast so as soon as a damage is suspected to a drive its always important to stop using the device until you have back it up entirely.
What drive utilities are you referring to?

Here's my laptops support page:

http://support.acer.com/us/en/pro...delId=1853

I don't see what you're referring to.
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#14
Quote from mikenmike0001 View Post :
You said when you use the built in recover to have a nice clean copy running to make an image of it. How do you use that and what software do you use to do it? The image saves a copy of an OS Install?

.
Windows has a built in system image capacity in the control panel.
If you restore from your built in partition then make a system image with Windows to an external hard drive, then you'll be able to install that same image onto a new hard drive, if and when you decide to replace the present one.
When it comes time to do that, I can post screenshots of the procedure and it'll be a snap to do. It takes all of 10 to 15 minutes to make the system image and approx the suame to install it onto the new HD.
Everything depends on having an external hard drive, of course.

As for the drive utility that mrbob mentioned, I believe he is referring to a program that you would download from the website of the hard drive's manufacturer, and not that of your laptop. Computer manufacturers use various hard drive brands in their machines, so you have to go to the device manager to find out the make and model of your hard drive, then try to find the utility at the manufacturer's website.
There's a presumption that the utility in question, could confirm whether or not your hard drive is shot.
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#15
Quote from mikenmike0001 View Post :

I don't see what you're referring to.
I am talking about tools from the Hard Drive maker (Western Digital, Seagate, etc). They are the best way to identify a bad drive.
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