what is this Windows 10 folder?

December 12, 2016 at 09:55:53
Specs: several
I just set up a new HP laptop with Windows 10. I haven't installed
any programs or even connected it to the Internet yet, so it doesn't
have much on it other than the OS and the bloatware HP included
that I haven't already removed. There are 178 items in the folder:

C:\Users\Jeff\Searches\Indexed Locations

Many of them are shortcuts. Many are Internet shortcuts. Many
are folders. A very few are executables, documents, or images.
They look almost like the contents of the Start menu. But the
name of the folder is "Indexed Locations". Exactly what are all
these items?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#1
December 12, 2016 at 11:09:32
Pretty much what the name implies. It's a view of everything in your Windows 10 index. Your start menu is indexed by default, hence the similarities.

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#2
December 12, 2016 at 18:25:01
That sounds like you are saying that every indexed file and
folder is copied to the "Indexed Locations" folder. Obviously
that can't be the case. But in addition to sounding like it's
what you are saying, it looks like what's actually happening.
For example, the largest file in the folder is a 39 MB exe.

I'm lost.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#3
December 12, 2016 at 22:34:25
Okay, time for the Explorer talk.

There are directories, and there are folders.

Directories are logical structures in a file system, and they typically hold the actual files (or more accurately, the references to the files, but that's a distinction for the file system talk).

Folders are an Explorer concept and are, according to Microsoft, more correctly called Shell Namespaces (but I like folders, so that's what I'm going to use). While there's normally a 1:1 ratio of directories to folders, there are folders without directories, and while exceedingly rare, there are directories without folders. The classic example of a folder without a directory would be the Control Panel, or your desktop. An example of a directory without a folder would be the $Recycle.bin, since attempting to navigate that in Explorer will dump you into the Recycle Bin (which is another folder without a directory).

If you're questioning what Explorer is telling you about your file system (and you should), you need to check another, less "user friendly" shell. Thankfully, Windows comes with CMD, aka the Command Prompt (which is being phased out, but details!).

C:\Users\▜▙\Searches>dir /a
 Volume in drive C has no label.
 Volume Serial Number is 8E69-32A1

 Directory of C:\Users\▜▙\Searches

11/09/2016  04:27 PM    <DIR>          .
11/09/2016  04:27 PM    <DIR>          ..
11/09/2016  04:27 PM               524 desktop.ini
09/22/2016  08:27 PM               248 Everywhere.search-ms
09/22/2016  08:27 PM               248 Indexed Locations.search-ms
09/22/2016  08:28 PM               859 winrt--{S-1-5-21-1001}-.searchconnector-ms
               4 File(s)          1,879 bytes
               2 Dir(s)  29,417,353,216 bytes free

C:\Users\▜▙\Searches>type "Indexed Locations.search-ms"
<?xml version="1.0"?>
<persistedQuery version="1.0">
    <query>
        <kindList>
            <kind name="item"/>
        </kindList>
        <scope knownScopeID="{f60163ce-2b8d-458d-ab2c-40f215767514}" />
    </query>
</persistedQuery>

C:\Users\▜▙\Searches>

Note that "Searches" isn't really adding anything that hasn't been there since Vista, we now just have a view into the index database.

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#4
December 13, 2016 at 08:13:08
Thank you, Razor! That is an excellent start to your Explorer talk!
I am implying, of course, that you need to add something for it to
be complete.

The first time through, when I reached the word "type", I didn't
recognize that it was the DOS/CMD "type" command. When I did
realize that, I was able to understand that what followed was the
contents of a special type of file (XML format). Apparently we can
read the contents of the file with the "type" command, but Explorer
instead acts on XML instructions in the file. In some way that is
completely opaque to me as yet.

I followed your trail and found my "Indexed Locations.search-ms"
file is identical to yours, including the CLSID number.

Now I'm thinking you *did* finish your Explorer talk, but crammed
so many ideas into the few words of the final sentence that I can't
extract the meaning. Could you explain it further?

My "take-away" from this so far is that the indexing apparently
can only be useful for searching the contents of files, not for
searching filenames. A simple search of un-indexed filenames
apparently would be much faster than an indexed search of the
contents, since in both cases, the same directory entries of all
the files are read. And besides not having to read and search
the files themselves, the "index or not" flags of all those files
don't have to be tested. Is that correct?

So how does one search filenames only in Explorer? Or date
or filesize?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

message edited by Jeff Root


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#5
December 13, 2016 at 21:38:49
Jeff Root: Apparently we can
read the contents of the file with the "type" command, but Explorer
instead acts on XML instructions in the file. In some way that is
completely opaque to me as yet.

Nothing particularly special about it; Explorer is programed to do so. This isn't the first instance of Explorer treating certain files as special. Shortcuts are the same way, only their data is saved in a binary blob, instead of XML. (Desktop.ini files also contain instructions for Explorer, and they're also text files.) Search-ms files even have their own entry in FTYPE, which is cute.
C:\Users\▜▙\Searches>ftype search-ms
search-ms=%SystemRoot%\Explorer.exe /separate,/idlist,%I,%L

Jeff Root: [Y]ou . . . crammed so many ideas into the few words of the final sentence that I can't extract the meaning.
What about having a view in the index database? I wasn't going for any sort of epiphany. I was just (trying to) point out Windows has been indexing files for many versions now, but there was no front-end way to see what had been indexed. Before Win8(.1?), the most obvious way to see if a file was indexed would have been to open the Start Menu and typing the file's name to see if it popped up in the results. With this, you can see exactly what is indexed.

Jeff Root: And besides not having to read and search the files themselves, the "index or not" flags of all those files don't have to be tested. Is that correct?
Not sure I'm following, but the search index saves some file metadata (and some metadata generated by the file's contents) in its own database designed for speed of access. During the search of an indexed directory, Explorer isn't looking at the files in the directory, but the index.

I haven't bothered with speed tests, but I'd assume it's faster. Otherwise MS is investing in a lot of pain (both for them and your PC) for no gain. I'm speaking out of my expertise, but I'm pretty sure NTFS is designed for reliability, stability, extensibility, compatibility, and other words ending with "-ty." The search index just needs to be fast. If the index corrupts, you're inconvenienced as it rebuilds. If NTFS corrupts, you've potentially lost that volume.

Jeff Root: So how does one search filenames only in Explorer? Or date
or filesize?

Advanced Query Syntax still works!

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message edited by Razor2.3


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#6
December 14, 2016 at 20:10:04
Windows indexes all files to speed searches by default. If you use an SSD drive it is recommended to turn off Indexing because the excessive reads and writes to the SSD drive and they are fast enough as not to miss it anyway. Others turn it off anyway. I always left it on until I built my first machine with an SSD drive as primary drive. It is off and I do not miss it. Is it worth a little bit of time to search as a trade off for less background stuff? Decide or try it off for a couple of days and see or get an SSD drive and leave it off.

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.


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#7
December 15, 2016 at 10:38:04
I turned off indexing when I had Windows 7, and at least to
begin with, I'm turning it off while setting up Windows 10 on
this new laptop. One of my goals is to completely end all
background disk activity. If 178 items in the "folder" sounded
like an absurdly small number, that is why: I had already
partially disabled indexing.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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