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The Crawler in SharePoint – How items can be missed

The Crawler in SharePoint – How items can be missed

When I first started my time here at Evoke IT, I came across a problem where items were seemingly unsearchable in SharePoint. I then realised these troubles derived from one simple feature. The Crawler.

Its not really a problem, I would call is more of a quirk. Something that can seem a bit counter intuitive, but once you understand how it works you soon learn to work with it. Now what the crawler does is it builds a search index that it can use to run search queries against, so if an item isn’t logged in the index, then as far as SharePoint search is aware, it doesn’t exist.

A SharePoint site is usually always changing, documents being added or removed, lists being updated and SharePoint needs to keep on top of this in order to be able to return the most relevant results possible. This is accomplished through the Crawler.

By default the Crawler (unless settings have changed) kicks off its crawl at around midnight. So when trying to troubleshoot items not appearing in a search result, it’s a good idea to ask yourself these questions:

  1. When did I upload / change this document / list?
  2. Do I know wheat the crawler usually starts at?
  3. Did I perform the search after the time the crawler should have started?
  4. Did I perform the search too close to when the crawler was initiated? (Perhaps, due to the size of the site the crawler is taking longer to run than usual.)

When you’re performing the search it’s important to keep in mind that just because the crawler runs at midnight (or whatever time you have set), doesn’t mean that the crawler is able to index all the files immediately, it can take a bit of time before it actually completes its job so you should always include some buffer time before performing your search.

Now hopefully you should be getting the search result you’ve been looking for after the Crawler has run. Hooray!

However if you don’t want to wait until after the Crawler has run to check a simply change you’ve made. You can actually forge the Crawl so you can troubleshoot issues you’re having.

First you’ll need to go into SharePoint Central Administration, once there click on Application Management. Under Service Applications, click Manage service applications.

Next click on Search Service Application

In the left hand under Crawling, click on Content Sources

Once there click on Start all Crawls

There you go! You’re full site Crawl has now started, and now when you search for the item you are looking for (once the crawler completes) should start appearing in the list.

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