SharePoint Hosting News: Tips to Make SharePoint Search Work Part 1

SharePoint Hosting News

Organizations use SharePoint to create websites. You can use it as a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from almost any device. All you need is a web browser, such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox.

SharePoint 2013 offers a simplified user experience and added enterprise social media capabilities, which expand upon previously offered capabilities for website management that include shared calendars, blogs, wikis, surveys, document libraries and shared task lists. SharePoint 2013 includes a community forum for users to engage in and categorize discussions, a microblogging capability and enhanced search capabilities.

Tips to Make SharePoint Search Work

SharePoint started in 2001 as a document management system, and that’s still one of its most important features. A key feature of a DMS is to be able to find documents. The SharePoint search engine has improved significantly over the last years. But a common misconception is that SharePoint Search works for every company straight out-of-the-box.

Every day thousands and thousands of Google employees work on improving the search engine and adapt it to the always changing world-wide web. The same is true for Bing, it does not “just work”. The core of the Bing search engine has been implemented in SharePoint 2013. So why does it still not fulfill all needs? Most importantly because of company specific metadata and taxonomies; even company has its own list of content types, metadata, and no site structure is the same. The SharePoint Search engine just needs some help to be able to understand the content better.

Search configuration and tweaking should be part of the project plan, and it must be understood that this takes time up-front, but also ongoing effort. I have compiled a list of 10 tips how you can make SharePoint Search work for you. I’ve added them in random order, there is no best tip as it all depends on your requirements and organisation.

#1 Tip: Include File Shares

Most organisations are still using file shares to store documents. By including these file shares in the SharePoint Search, users will be able to find these documents easily and they will more likely invest more time in using SharePoint.

Configure Enterprise Search to Index A File Share

The first step of indexing a file share is identifying your crawl account. This is the account that will be used to index the file share (unless specified differently with a crawl rule) and therefore will need read access to the file share. Start by granting read access on this account to any folder, subfolder, and file that you want indexed. Any folder this account doesn’t have access to will be excluded. If you are not too familiar with how permissions work on file shares, there are two places that an account must have permission: the Sharing tab and the Security tab. You use the Security tab to grant access to an account on the file system itself. This would be the same if that user is logged into that machine directly and trying to view the files. The Sharing tab is what permissions the user has when accessing that folder over the network. In order for an account to be able to read files over the network, the user must have read permission on both tabs.

After you have configured permissions on your account, you need to go to the SSP –> Search Administration –> Content Sources.  Create a new content source and give it a name.  I called mine File Share in this case. Then you need to specify a start address.  You can specify the path as file://server/share or \\server\share.  Enter the path to one or more file share sand then save the content source.  You can also specify whether or not to index subfolders or not here.

One thing to note before crawling is that, it will only index file types that you have allowed on the File Types page.  For example PDF is not included by default.  Add any extensions that you might need.  If you need to add any file types, specify the extension without the period (i.e.: pdf not .pdf).

Once your file types are in order, you are ready to begin a full crawl.  After the crawl is completed, view the Crawl Log and verify that your files were indexed.  If there was a permissions problem or any other issues accessing the file share, you will see it here.  At this point you can go to your search center and try a search.  If all goes well, you should see some search results.  To see what got indexed, you can easily write a keyword query to show everything in the content source.

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