How does Google search the web in less than a second and return many results, but Windows File Explorer takes many seconds to search a relatively tiny amount of information?


How does Google search the web in less than a second and return many results, but Windows File Explorer takes many seconds to search a relatively tiny amount of information?

In: 8

Google preprocesses its massive data set to be able to quickly filter down results according to your search string.

One simple way of doing this is to make a huge database of words, with links to every web page in which the word appears. Then when someone searches for a set of words, you can find the links that are common to all those words, and then from that much smaller list quickly return a ranked list of results.

This isn’t exactly what Google does, but it is analogous. The important part of the analogy is that this database, while smaller than the entire contents of the web, is still massive. Windows File Explorer could do this, but it would take time to create this and keep it updated, and it would take space to store it.

File Explorer [does do this](, but it balances search speed with other concerns. So depending on what you’re searching for and where in your filesystem you’re looking, you will not be taking advantage of this search index, and instead have to look through every file.

If I give you a few boxes of books and say “I think I put Dune in this box, can you check?” then it takes time to check each book and see if it’s the book I want.

If you’re a librarian, though, and I ask “Do you have Dune in the library?” the librarian can tell you quickly, because they’ve already gone and catalogued every book they have.

Google search is like that – the part most people see is the search page, but there’s a hidden part to their technology: their web indexing “spider” downloads, on a regular basis, a huge percentage of the web, and stores information about what the page is about, what keywords appear on it, and so forth, in a huge index. Then, when you search, the query is farmed off to a bunch of servers which each search part of that index and return pages that it deems are relevant.

How fast or slow something loads depends on two things, the size of the file and the transfer speed. When searching for something on Google you don’t load up all the websites you are shown, you’re simply going through a catalog of websites or images. Search results are sectioned in pages so you don’t even load up that many to begin with, and only load up more in chunks as you search more. Google is a search engine so obviously their core operation is focused on making searches streamlined. Their data centers and servers are immense, using very expensive and very fast equipment, and for searches the process is refined to require the least amount of data, so when you’re making an initial google search google servers go through their lists internally, which happens near instantaneously, and then produces a list on your screen that’s no more than a few megabytes and that has no trouble coming up quickly on most internet connections.

When you’re searching through your computer though the computer has to load everything itself, which on older system or cheaper hard drives may take time. Usually it’s not so much the specific performance of a hard drive causing slow downs but rather a weaker system that is strained through many concurrent processes. Most people’s computers are filled with junk programs and files that stack on top of each other and this causes the computer to run slow, because when you’ve maxed out RAM or CPU usage and you’re asking of your computer to search for a bunch of files it’s simply bottlenecking at other points and it takes time to sort that out and give you your results. Well running computers with updated operating systems and clean of junk with their systems not strained by other processes are not that slow to bring up results.

i see other answering this question well, so on a side note I would like to add that using a free utility called ‘Everything’ (Windows) will index all the files and search it quickly.

If this is a problem that bothers you, please consider trying “everything”

It’s a search tool for windows that works the way I wish windows worked – its fast and searches everything