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One of the reasons why many have experienced Windows Vista to be slow was because the Windows Search indexing process kept the hard drive busy. A hard disk that is always busy can slow down even a well-equipped PC considerably. This is why I recommended to disable indexing in Vista at that time. The question now is whether it also makes sense to turn off indexing in Windows 7.
I don't know what Microsoft did in Windows 7 with Windows Search, but it appears that improvements were made in the detection of active applications that could be impaired by the indexing process. I never saw a Windows 7 computer being slowed down by the indexing process. The latest Windows indexing technology is also available for Vista and Windows XP in Windows Search 4.0, which may eliminate all performance issues related to indexing.
I wrote this article because my previous post about disabling Vista indexing is still read about 4000 times per month. Thus, it seems that many people still believe that turning off indexing improves performance. This might be because many don't know about the update for Windows Search. It could also be that they are running Vista on old hardware that is not suitable for this modern operating system.
However, I do believe that even an old computer running Windows Search 4.0 won't perform much better with indexing turned off once initial indexing has been completed. The only reason I can think of that would justify disabling Windows Search is because you want to run a third-party desktop search solution.
The other question is whether there really is a better desktop search solution for Windows. Windows Search is perfectly integrated into Windows, does not require a web browser, and works well together with Outlook/Exchange and other Microsoft enterprise search products.
But if you still want to turn off indexing in Windows 7, you have several options. I recommend having a look at the comprehensive Windows Search FAQ first, so you know what you are actually turning off.
Options to turn off indexing in Windows 7 ^
You can remove some or all folders that are indexed in the Indexing Options applet (type "indexing" at Start Search).
You can also just pause indexing for 15 minutes if you want to be sure indexing doesn't interfere with another hard disk intensive task.
You can remove individual drives or folders from indexing through the properties dialog in Windows Explorer.
The most reliable way, certainly, is to disable the Windows Search service (type "services" at Start Search).