Enable Windows Search Service on Windows Server

Prajwal Desai
Posted by Prajwal Desai
Enable Windows Search Service on Windows Server

This article explains how to enable Windows search service on Windows server. The Windows Search service allows clients that are compatible with the search service to perform fast file searches on a server.

When you install the Windows Search service on a server, you can use the Windows File Explorer to quickly search for files and file contents. The Windows Search service must be running to enable quick searching.

The search service is also available for Windows 10 and Windows 11 users. This service provides content indexing, property caching, and search results for files, e-mail, and other content.

On Windows 10/11, if you’re using Microsoft Visio to lookup for newly installed stencils, the Windows Search service should be running. Otherwise, you’ll encounter the error “Visio cannot provide fast search results because Windows Search is not running or is not configured properly for Visio. Please contact your system administrator.”

Also Read: Install Windows Server 2022 Core: A Step-by-Step Guide

What is Windows Search Service?

The Windows Search Service (WSS) can search files and documents for useful information. Indexing can be quite CPU-intensive, depending on the number of files on your system, but Microsoft has ensured that the service will throttle or even pause indexing if it may negatively impact the user experience. By using indexing, users will experience faster file-server searches. For more information, read the article by Microsoft on Windows Search Overview.

Ways to install Windows Search on Server

There are two ways to install the Windows Search service on Windows server:

  1. Using the Add Roles and features wizard
  2. Using PowerShell

We’ll cover both the above methods in this article.

Also Read: Patch Server Core Installation with latest Windows Updates

Steps to enable Windows Search Service on Windows Server

Here are the steps that you need to follow to install the Windows Search service on Windows Server 2022.

Log in to the Windows Server and launch the Server Manager. Click Manage and select Add Roles and Features.

Server Manager - Add Roles and Features
Server Manager – Add Roles and Features

On the Installation Type page, select Role based or feature-based installation option and click Next.

Role based or feature based installation
Role based or feature-based installation

Select the destination server on which you want to install the Windows Search service. If this is a local server, click Next.

Server Selection
Server Selection

On the Server Roles page, click Next. On the Features page, select the Windows Search Service checkbox and click Next.

Enable Windows Search Service on Windows Server
Enable Windows Search Service on Windows Server

On the Confirmation page, click Install.

Enable Windows Search Service on Windows Server
Enable Windows Search Service on Windows Server

The Windows Search service installation is now complete. You don’t have to restart the server after installing the Windows Search service. Close the Add Roles and Features Wizard.

Enable Windows Search Service on Windows Server
Enable Windows Search Service on Windows Server

Fix Windows Search is disabled in Windows Server 2016

By default, the Windows Search service is set to Disabled in Windows Server 2016. That’s because the indexing of the volumes can cause problems in certain scenarios, including

  • Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV)
  • Running Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) with multiple simultaneous sessions.

If you need the search functionality on Windows Server 2016 from the start menu, you can re-enable the Windows search service using the following steps:

  • Press Windows + R to open the Run box.
  • Type services.msc, and then press Enter.
  • Right-click Windows Search, and then select Properties.
  • Change the startup type to Automatic (Delayed Start).
  • Select Apply, and then select Start.
  • Select OK, and then close the Services console.

After making the above changes, you may want to restart the Server once. Now the Windows Search service starts along with other services.

Fix Windows Search is disabled in Windows Server 2016
Fix Windows Search is disabled in Windows Server 2016

Install Windows Search Service using PowerShell

Using PowerShell is probably the quickest way to install the Windows Search service on a server. Launch the PowerShell as administrator. Run the following PowerShell command to install the Windows Search service on Windows Server.

Install-WindowsFeature Search-Service
Install Windows Search Service using PowerShell
Install Windows Search Service using PowerShell

Install Windows Search Service on Server 2008 R2

On older versions of Windows Server, such as 2008 R2, the procedure for installing the search service slightly varies. To enable the Windows Search service in Windows Server 2008 R2, follow these steps:

  • Launch the Server Manager and click Roles in the left navigation pane.
  • Click Add Roles in the Roles Summary pane.
  • On the Server Roles page, select the File Services role, and then click Next.
  • On the Role Services page, select the Windows Search Service role service, and then click Next.
  • On the Confirmation page, verify that Windows Search Service is listed, and then click Install.

Restart Windows Search Service on Windows Server

Recently, one of our customers reported that the search service was taking up a lot of CPU resources on their server. This can happen when you have a large volume of files to index or your search operation involves searching too many files.

On a Windows server, if you notice that Windows Search is not functioning properly, you can try restarting the service using the following steps:

If you need the search functionality on Windows Server 2016 from the start menu, you can re-enable the Windows search service using the following steps:

  • Press Windows + R to open the Run box.
  • Type services.msc, and then press Enter.
  • Right-click Windows Search service and select Restart.
  • Close the Services console.
Restart Windows Search Service on Windows Server
Restart Windows Search Service on Windows Server
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Prajwal Desai
Posted by Prajwal Desai
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Prajwal Desai is a Microsoft MVP in Intune and SCCM. He writes articles on SCCM, Intune, Windows 365, Windows Server, Windows 11, WordPress and other topics, with the goal of providing people with useful information.
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