Copernic Desktop Search: Indexing and Search Problems

I was using Copernic Desktop Search (CDS) 3.4.0 on Windows 7 SP1. I was having some problems. This post describes the situation and some solutions.  Note:  these notes are incomplete; they ended before I answered all of the questions.

I wasn’t using CDS to search for filenames. For that purpose, I found it was faster to use Everything. I was using CDS to search for file contents — especially for text within files.

Several different problems arose at about the same time. One was that I could search one day and get plenty of hits, and then I could run the same search another day and get “No matching documents.” Another problem was that a search of a set of files on one machine would display only a few hits, while running the same search of the same files on a mirrored machine would find hundreds. I also found that sometimes I could not get Copernic to index files. It would seem to start, and then it would stop (or, in Copernic lingo, it would become “idle”). In that last case, when I went into Tools > Indexing Status > Details, I saw “Catastrophic failure,” apparently indicating that CDS had been unable to index the listed file for some unknown reason.

Searching for answers for these problems was somewhat frustrating. For one thing, it seemed that people were posting their questions on Copernic’s internal forum — but since access to that forum was available only to registered and logged-in users, the results would not appear in ordinary searches. As an example, a Google search (for Copernic “scheduled indexing”) that would seemingly have produced hundreds of hits actually only produced four. So I couldn’t use my ordinary approach of repeatedly refining my Google search until I had what I was looking for. I didn’t see any advanced search feature on the forum.

I emailed CDS tech support. They told me to look at their Quick Start Guide. That 11-page document said that CDS would always keep an up-to-date index for me. To verify that it was indexing a particular file, I could search for @all. I was going to try that, but I already had CDS running. I had just uninstalled and reinstalled it, in a bid to fix its problems, so at this point it was saying, “Initial scan in progress.” I didn’t want to forget about that search, where I had already typed my search terms into the search box, so I hit Windows-C (i.e., hold down the Windows key, on the bottom row of the keyboard, and hit C) to open another session — but, silly me, CDS did not allow multiple sessions.

When CDS was done with its initial search, I tried again with that recommended search for @all. This produced many thousands of files. I went into Copernic’s Tools > Options > Files to see what locations the program was indexing. In Windows Explorer, I clicked on each the drives listed there in Copernic, one at a time; I selected all of their folders; and I right-clicked on those selected folders and selected Properties to see how many files they contained. The numbers of files in those folders was far greater than the number indexed by Copernic. It looked like CDS was indexing only about one-third of the files on the designated drive. I emailed Copernic tech support to find out why. Their reply was as follows:

First, verify if the folders where is located your files are indexed by CDS. Menu Tools -> Options -> Files tab. Emails & Organizer tab for Emails. Secondly, verify if the indexing “On the fly” is activated. Menu Tools -> Options -> Indexing & Performance tab -> “On the fly indexing” section.

By default, Copernic Desktop Search is indexing when your computer is not use and when the CPU is not overloaded. If other programs or tasks are running and they are using a lot of CPU (more or less than 50%), CDS will not start indexing. CDS is also designed to run continuously on your computer. If you close CDS, the indexing “On the Fly” will lose his path and will be functional again after an update is performed by the scheduled update or by you.

You can also try these solutions:

Tools -> Options -> Indexing & Performance tab -> Indexing performance section -> Choose Unrestricted -> Close Option window with ok.

(To build or rebuild more quickly your index)

Then update your index -> Tools -> Update Index -> Entire index or the desired category.


Tools -> Options -> Advanced tab -> Index location section -> Click “Clear index and reindex all” -> Close Option window with ok.

(This option recreates the index completely)

The update of your index should begin immediately.

Don’t forget to put back the Restricted mode after the index is updated. The unrestricted mode can use a lot of computer resources. This solution helps to build or rebuild your index rapidly. You can use it if you must reinstall your software or if you must recreate your index.

This information basically said that the options visible to me under the Tools menu pick were all there was. Note: some recent posts had suggested that Copernic was busy with other projects, had just been bought by another company, etc. — that, in other words, at this point they might not have been at the top of their game.

A couple of days had passed, so I checked again. Still the same situation: only a fraction of the files were indexed. I had this computer mirrored onto another. On that machine, with the same number of files on the drive being indexed, CDS indexed 30% more files — but still less than half of the total files that I thought were being indexed.  (Incidentally, this was an advantage of having two computers synced with each other:  I had repeatedly found that the two produced dissimilar search results in Copernic.)

Now, as I looked again at CDS > Tools > Indexing Status, I saw that it was reporting a number of indexed documents that was about 25% larger than the number shown when I searched in CDS for @all. Apparently @all did not, and perhaps was not supposed to, display all indexed documents. Nonetheless, the number shown in the Indexing Status dialog was still less than half of the total number of files that were supposed to be indexed.

At this point, I went away from the computer for more than an hour. When I got back, I looked at the log of entries shown in the Current Indexing Status dialog (Copernic > Tools > Indexing Status). It seemed to indicate that CDS had been idle, not indexing, for most of the hour. I let it sit a while longer and looked again. It had not gone idle because it was finished indexing; during this additional time it had started and stopped indexing once or twice more. It appeared that CDS would stop indexing at the least provocation — not only when I used the mouse or keyboard, but possibly when any other utility or other program did anything. This cast a new light on the CDS > Tools > Options > Indexing & Performance > Scheduled Indexing > Custom Schedule setting. I currently had it set to reindex most of my files every ten days. It did not specify a day or date, so I didn’t know when it would have last started to reindex. But it now appeared that CDS might be struggling to get through the full set of files — that it might take days to do so, or might not actually finish before it was time for another 10-day reset.

For that reason, I decided to change my approach. I turned off Scheduled Indexing, set it to suspend indexing for only one second of idle time, closed the Options dialog, and watched to see what would happen in the Current Indexing Status dialog. Now I realized there might be a bug in either the indexing process or in the way it was reported in the Current Indexing Status dialog. After one second of idle time, it said “Idle,” but nothing more. It wasn’t until I moved the mouse that it said “Indexing …” and then, immediately after, it would indicate that it would resume after 1 second of idle time. In short, it wasn’t clear whether I should rely on the Current Index Status dialog. I closed that and continued with the process of changing my approach. I decided, now, to turn off Scheduled Indexing. On the Fly indexing was still turned on. I made a reminder for myself, coming up once a week, to leave the computer on overnight. At that point, I would set Indexing Performance to Unrestricted, and I would go into Tools > Update Index > Entire Index. Then I would come back in the morning and see how it was doing. There were indications that reindexing could take days, but this was what I decided to try.

When I returned seven hours later, it had indexed more files than in the previous total. I noticed that the total number of indexed documents stated at the bottom of the Current Index Status dialog did not increase with each additional document shown in the dialog’s continually changing list of files that were currently being indexed. It seemed to be updated every now and then. Maybe the CDS programmers concluded that constantly updating that number would draw computing power away from the actual indexing. Similarly, that list was not updated overnight; there were no entries between about midnight and 7 AM, when I returned to the computer. There did not seem to be a way to get a full list or other detailed information on what files had been indexed, much less on what had been indexed from those files.

I let it run. It continued to index. At some point, it produced an error message (with a typographical error):

An error occurred: An error occured while processing item: D:\Miscellany\Thunderbird\Profile\ from source ID: File Message: Operation aborted

It stopped. I thought that meant it was really aborting. But then it started again. It indexed a few more Thunderbird files, and then said “Idle.” Then, after another couple of minutes, it said, “Updating index…” and then “Idle” again. It was still far short of the total number of files that it should have indexed.

By this point, I had found some posts in Copernic’s forums that seemed relevant. (I’m not sure these posts would be visible without being logged in.) Several posts (by e.g., rpcohen) suggested that Copernic would not index folders that were not properly marked in Windows. In Windows XP, which I was not using, the advice was to right-click the folder, go into Properties > Advanced, and check “For fast searching, allow Indexing Service to index this folder.” The closest I got, in Windows 7, was an option to “Allow files in this folder to have contents indexed in addition to file properties.” I found a folder where that wasn’t checked. I looked at one of the files in that folder. I noticed that it contained the phrase, “why not just admit.” Without thinking, I edited that PDF file to make it look better. Then I searched for that phrase in Copernic. While it was searching, the Current Index Status dialog (and also the status bar at the bottom of the main Copernic screen) indicated that Copernic was now indexing the files in that folder. Copernic did find that file. The “Allow files” box in the Windows Properties dialog had not changed. It looked like Copernic’s regular full-reindexing facility might overlook files in folders that did not have that box checked, until I did something in that folder, and then its On the Fly indexing would notice the folder and index it. But no, a search for a file in another folder where I made no changes did not have this effect: the folder’s contents were not (re)indexed when I merely looked at it, and Copernic did find the file. So I wasn’t sure what to make of this advice about the Indexing Service, nor was I sure why Copernic reindexed that entire folder when I changed just one file in it. In another folder, neither adding a file nor changing a file caused Copernic to reindex the entire folder. So it looked like Copernic might have overlooked that first folder until I changed that file, but hadn’t overlooked the second folder and therefore didn’t (re)index it when I changed a file there. Others had identified irregularities in Copernic’s indexing of subfolders.

In Windows, I went into Control Panel > Programs and Features > Turn Windows Features On or Off > Indexing Service. It was unchecked. I checked it and exited. I got a notice, “Please wait while Windows makes changes to features. This might take several minutes.” This step, by itself, didn’t result in any new activity in Copernic’s Current Index Status dialog. I wasn’t sure what to make of that.

Some other Copernic forum posts suggested other things that could lead to problems in some cases — that, for example, CDS might be unable to index some emails and some email program files. This wasn’t my problem, though; I was just not getting indexing of a large number of files.

Having just taken a look at Windows properties and such, I was thinking: maybe it’s not just a problem with CDS. A search led to a Microsoft Answers page that said that, at least in the indexing built into Windows 7, one problem could be that the user lacked permissions to search all directories. To get to what they seemed to be talking about, I went into Control Panel > Troubleshooting > System and Security > Windows > Search and Indexing > Advanced > Uncheck “Apply repairs automatically” (so that I could see what was happening) > Next > Files don’t appear in search results. I got back, “Troubleshooting couldn’t identify the problem.” The “Explore Additional Options” button didn’t lead anywhere promising.

A thread in which people vented frustrations with Windows 7 Search gave me some ideas. At least as a test, I decided to enable both Windows 7 and Copernic search simultaneously, knowing that this might entail huge performance problems. I wanted both available via hotkey. To enable that, I went into CDS > Tools > Options > Integration > “Remove Copernic as the default desktop search program” and also uncheck “Always check if Copernic Desktop Search is the default desktop search program.” Now Winkey-F would bring up Find (i.e., Windows 7 Search) and Winkey-C (as enabled in that same Integration dialog) would bring up CDS.

Then, as advised, I made sure that I had ownership of the folders I wanted to index. This called for right-click > Properties > Security tab. I couldn’t get the Security tab by selecting a bunch of top-level folders all at once. I had to do them one at a time. For each folder that I wanted to index, I went to that Security tab > Edit. In the first folder I worked on, I saw that I had already created “Everyone” as a group or user name, with Full Control permissions. In Advanced, I selected Change Permissions > “Replace all child object permissions with inheritable permissions from this object” > Apply. (I left “Include inheritable permissions from this object’s parents” checked.) Those steps took care of both ownership and permissions. Then, in the General tab (still in that folder’s Properties dialog), I went to Advanced and checked “Allow files in this folder to have contents indexed in addition to file properties.” (I unchecked that in all folders that I didn’t want to have searched.) I clicked until it was a clear black-and-white checkmark, not just greyed. When I clicked Apply, I indicated that I wanted this to apply to subfolders as well. I also made sure that Read-Only was turned off — as a matter of preference, presumably without impact on the current project.

Then I noticed that the “Replace all child object permissions” box would not stay checked for any of these folders. I posted a question on this.  That was as far as my notes went.

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6 Responses to Copernic Desktop Search: Indexing and Search Problems

  1. Andy says:

    I’ve experimented in much the same way you have. However, after much investigation, I usually found that the reason files were not in the index had something to do with me as opposed to Copernic. I had the same issue with the vast difference between the number of files indexed and the total number of files in the folders, until I started looking and in every case, the missing files turned out to be odd-ball files that Copernic doesn’t index (i.e. *.mpp (MS Project), *.vsd (MS Visio), *.pub (MS Publisher, not to mentione a zillion *.001, or *.bak, or whatever). I have, on occasion, not been able to find a file that I know I had, but Copernic’s feature set causes me to overlook this problem.

    However, I am installing 3.7.0 on a Win7 64 machine, and it won’t get throught the initial scan without locking up. If there was a better search program out there, I would seriously try it, but the combination of Copernic’s feature set, and the amount of control they give me on what is indexed and what is not, and how advanced searches are performed doesn’t exist. I also have X1, but only for its ability to index multiple non-loaded Outlook pst’s. X1’s “autofind” feature drives me nuts, and you can’t turn it off (with my really fast computers, every keystroke I hit in X1 basically redraws the screen causing it to visually “spit” at me. Between the both of them, I am pretty successful at finding almost anything I look for.

  2. Ray Woodcock says:

    A later post contains, near its end, an update on Copernic 4.

  3. stairclimber says:

    A software that I have been happily using for the past 7 years is Archivarius 3000.

    Much better than Google Desktop Search and Copernic Desktop search , both of which slowed down my computer back in 2007 .

    I have tried most desktop search programs (well, at least 10) back in 2007 and I find Archivarius 3000 the best of breed.

    Thanks for your post about CDS . Looks like they haven’t improved their game since 2007.

  4. Marcus W. says:

    My problem is quite similar, yet I couldn´t find a solution: I am using CDS 3,4 corporate version on a Win7 64bit machine. I´ve had my indexfile on a separate Drive (O) and it generally works fine. However, wenn starting CDS without having mounted drive O, CDS wants to load from Drive C:; since there is no Indexfile it creates one. You should think that opening the original indexfile on O an adjusting the option in CDS (and restart) should lead to the result that CDS would now begin reading the Data. But no! Those Data seem lost – I have to repeat reindexing. Why? No one could tell me.

  5. Nestor says:

    I had a similar problem (the indexing stop). I fix it by entering in options/indexing/ and choosing manual indexing. Then I unmarked the 3 pausing options. Inmediately, the indexing began again continuosly until the final. Good luck!

  6. Ed Marinelli says:

    I am version 6 of Copernic . It still has problems where it seems to lose the index information for no apparent reason and you have to reindex. Program is also slow and consumes a lot of resources. Takes a long time to load etc….Feels buggy and not robust. I have to say that it seems to do a better job of indexing than it used to but I am seriously thinking about going to something else.

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