Why Does Windows’ Default Search Suck So Much, and How Do You Fix It?

We’ve all been there. You’re searching for a simple file that you know is in a simple place, but Windows takes ages to find it.

Why is the default Windows search so slow, and is there anything you can do to improve it? Let’s find out.

There’s a lot more that goes into the searching process than just looking for a file. Because of the number of different files available on your system, Windows prefers to search through Indexed Directories.

An Index Directory is a part of your system that has already been looked at by Windows. More of a brief glance, this Index Directory is a collection of information on all the files in your system.

Windows will index common directories, such as system files and documents. When you make a search, Windows will quickly refer to its own index, and then prepare to index more directories should it fail to find a file.

This makes finding common files relatively painless, however, it gets more complicated when you’re trying to find a specific file in an unknown part of your system.

Why Does Windows Search Find Things Slower Than Other Programs?

The Indexing rules that Windows works off aren’t entirely inclusive, and the search system can behave in what many consider to be strange ways. An example of this might be if you were searching for something with the filename “Update.”

Searching “Up” will immediately draw from indexed directories. Usually, Windows Update options. However, searching “Upd” will confuse the default search and may even prompt a web search, if you are using the Start Menu.


Completing the search term “Update” will cause Windows to take a few additional seconds to pull from actual files with “Update” in the name or file information.

This is why Windows can immediately return certain options or files but not others. This is also why Windows can take several minutes to finalize a search even after pulling up several results.

How to Search Windows Faster

Because Windows Default Search can actually be quite efficient in certain ways, searching for files faster depends on what you’re trying to find.

The Windows Default Search is great for pulling system options, easily named documents or media in common directories, as well as recently downloaded or modified files.

Windows can be configured to search the entire system on demand; however, this process takes much longer and can affect battery or power performance on certain devices.

You can read more about how to do this using our guide for Using Enhanced Search Mode in Windows 10.

Another option to consider is using third-party search tools. These programs are often built to search in entirely different ways, which can lead to either a much faster search, or a slower but more thorough one.

An example of this would be the program Everything, which is known for snappy searches.

The simple difference between Everything and Windows Default Search is that Everything indexes your entire system and holds that information in memory. It results in a near-instant search, but at the cost of more data on your hard drive.

If you’d like to know more about Everything, alongside other handy apps available to you, check out the best search tools for Windows 11.

A Competent Yet Restrictive Method of Searching

So, Windows Default Search isn’t actually that bad. In fact, it’s highly geared towards casual users and often provides satisfactory results for those who keep data organized.

For power users, or for those with disorganized or unusual hard drives, the Windows Default Search might be lacking in comprehension or speed. Thankfully, as with all problems inherent to Windows, there is a third-party fix out there just waiting to be found.

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