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11 November 2014

SharePoint 2013 Search Tutorials on kalmstrom.com

SharePoint icon SharePoint 2013 comes with a very capable search engine. Much can be achieved with just the standard features, and admin with some extra knowledge can enhance the search possibilities further. To encourage exploration and use of the SharePoint Search I am planning a series of tutorials on this subject.

How SharePoint Search works
The SharePoint search engine crawls through the content sources and builds an index of the words used in all files and items. The search engine also records where those files are stored and which users are allowed to read the information.

When a user performs a search, the search engine compares the searched words with the index and returns the appropriate items, sorted by relevance. But even if these basics are the same for all SharePoint versions, there are differences in how to get there.

Office 365  ̶  convenience
In SharePoint Online, which is included in Office 365, the Search is already configured, and SharePoint Online users can just start searching their content without bothering with search configurations and crawling options.

I recommend SharePoint Online for smaller businesses, as it is easier to start using than the on premise versions. The drawback of that convenience is that you have much less control than what you get with a SharePoint on premise installation.

SharePoint on premise  ̶  control
When you start using a fresh SharePoint 2013 on premise, the SharePoint Search does not work at all. Just like many other features in SharePoint on premise, the search engine first has to be configured. The advantage of the manual configuration is that you have control over the features and can customize your SharePoint, but the administration of SharePoint on premise of course requires more knowledge than the online version.

Crawl options
When configuring the SharePoint Search for a SharePoint 2013 on premise installation, you have three crawling options to be aware of:
  • Incremental crawls: described as finding all additions, removing most deletes and updating most of the security rules for items in the index.
  • Full crawls: find all changes, but take a long time to run and cannot run in parallel with incremental crawls. A full crawl is especially needed after information architecture changes, such as adding or changing content types, managed properties or indexes.
  • Continuous crawls: similar to incremental crawls but run faster, update the index quicker and can be run in parallel with full crawls. Without advanced configuration you will usually get a 15 minute freshness on your index with this option.

    The continuous crawls are part of the enhanced Search feature in SharePoint 2013, and this is also the mode used in Office 365 SharePoint Online.
In the demo below I show how to set the crawling schedule for SharePoint 2013 on premise search engines. For more info and a step by step instruction, please refer to the kalmstrom.com Tips article on how to configure SharePoint Search.

Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions