By Ruby Nahal, Systems Engineer
If you’ve been in IT for a while like I have, you know that over the years, the amount of data organizations accrue has grown exponentially. Each business has a virtual library of information that they must dig through to find exactly what they are looking for – a task that can be both time consuming and frustrating.
Many organizations use Windows Search Service (known pre-Windows XP as Windows Indexing Service) as a search engine for local data as well as internal shared data, believe it or not. This indexing service allows you to search content quickly, which makes it a pretty slick feature for smaller organizations that only need basic content searching. (I am not talking about Windows Search Server here, which is a different beast altogether, and is implemented at a whole different level.)
However, if you have Windows Server 2012 file server in your environment that hosts data for mapped shares, Windows Search Service is not an “install the service on the file server and off-you-go” setup. With Windows Server 2012 file server, the deployment for searchable shares has changed quite a bit and now includes indexed libraries.
Windows Search Service still needs to be installed on the file server and the data still needs to be configured for indexing – that part hasn’t changed, but it’s easy; We can use the Windows indexing options in Control Panel to set this up.
Now we need to set up libraries on the client workstation. But before we start with creating libraries, we need to make sure what libraries are needed within the organization. In other words, what shares will be made searchable for the users. You can also control what type of content is searchable by configuring advanced options under Indexing Options.
If you have followed the best practices, you will implement mapped drives using group policy preferences. The easiest way to do this is to use a client workstation as template. Create the libraries that are needed in Windows Explorer and add the mapped drive to the library locations.
After you have created all the libraries use the group policy preferences to copy these libraries to %UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Libraries for the users that require it. It will be best to create the preference in the same GPO as the one for mapped drives. You can also use item-level targeting if you want to get sophisticated with it.
Note: If DFS names are being used for mapping drives within your organization, search service for indexing mapped drives is not an option. It is currently not supported for Windows Search service 3.0. Hopefully, it will be included for support in the next version.
Once the libraries are deployed and the content has been fully indexed on the file server, users will be able to search these libraries for files AND content, greatly cutting down on your clients’ time and frustration level.