Diagnose Exchange Search issues

Applies to: Exchange Server 2013

Exchange Search indexes mailboxes and supported attachments in Exchange mailboxes. With increasing volumes of email, increasing mailbox sizes and storage quotas, provisioning archive mailboxes for users, and In-Place eDiscovery for performing discovery searches, Exchange Search is a critical component of the Mailbox servers in your Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 organization. Issues with Exchange Search can affect user productivity and impact In-Place eDiscovery functionality.

To learn more about Exchange Search, see Exchange Search.

Looking for management tasks related to managing Exchange Search? See Exchange Search procedures.

Using the Test-ExchangeSearch Cmdlet

Step 5 of the procedure in this topic describes running the Test-ExchangeSearch cmdlet to help diagnose Exchange Search issues. You can use the Test-ExchangeSearch cmdlet to test Exchange Search functionality for a Mailbox server, a mailbox database, or a specific mailbox. The cmdlet delivers a test message to the specified mailbox (or to a database's system mailbox if a mailbox isn't specified), and then performs a search to determine whether the message is indexed, including the time taken to index it. Under normal conditions, Exchange Search indexes a message within about 10 seconds of the message being created or delivered to a mailbox. The test message is automatically deleted after the test.

For detailed syntax and parameter information, see Test-ExchangeSearch.

Retrieving unsearchable Items

You can use the Get-FailedContentIndexDocuments cmdlet to retrieve a list of unsearchable mailbox items that couldn't be successfully indexed by Exchange Search. You can run the cmdlet against a Mailbox server, a mailbox database, or a specific mailbox. The cmdlet returns details about each item that couldn't be searched. There are several reasons why a mailbox item can't be searched; for example, an email message might contain an attachment file type that can't be indexed for search or because a search filter isn't installed or is disabled. If a search filter for that file type is available, you can install it on your Exchange servers.


Search filters provided by Microsoft are tested and supported by Microsoft. We recommend that you test any third-party search filters in a test environment before installing them on Exchange servers in a production environment.

For more information about unsearchable items, see :

Diagnose Exchange Search issues

You need to be assigned permissions before you can perform this procedure or procedures. To see what permissions you need, see the "Exchange Search" entry in the Recipients Permissions topic.

  1. Check service state: Is the Microsoft Exchange Search (MSExchangeFastSearch) service started on the Mailbox server? If yes, go to Step 2. If no, use the Services MMC snap-in to verify that the MSExchangeFastSearch service is running as follows:

    1. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Services.

    2. In Services, verify that the Status for the Microsoft Exchange Search service is listed as Started.

  2. Check mailbox database configuration: Is the IndexEnabled parameter set to true for the user's mailbox database? If yes, go to Step 3. If no, run the following command in the Shell to verify that the IndexEnabled flag is set to true.

    Get-MailboxDatabase | Format-Table Name,IndexEnabled

    For detailed syntax and parameter information, see Get-MailboxDatabase.

  3. Check mailbox database crawl state: Has the Exchange database been crawled? If yes, go to Step 4. If no, use Reliability and Performance Monitor to check the Crawler: Mailboxes Remaining counter of the MSExchange Search Indexes performance object. Perform the following steps:

    1. Open Performance Monitor (perfmon.exe).

    2. In the console tree, under Monitoring Tools, click Performance Monitor.

    3. In the Performance Monitor pane, click Add (green plus sign).

    4. In Add Counters, in the Select counters from computer list, select the server on which the mailbox database you want to monitor is located.

    5. In the unlabeled box below the Select counters from computer list, select the MSExchange Search Indexes performance object.

    6. In the Instances of selected object box, select the instance for the user's mailbox database.

    7. Click Add, and then click OK.

      In the Performance Monitor pane, the MSExchange Search Indexes performance object is listed in the Object column, and its various counters are listed in the Counter column.

    8. View the Crawler: Mailboxes Remaining counter. Any value of 1 or higher indicates that mailboxes in the database are still being crawled. When the crawl is complete, the value is 0.

    For information about using Performance Monitor, see Performance and Reliability Monitoring Getting Started Guide for Windows Server 2008

  4. Check the database copy indexing health: Is the content index healthy? Use the Get-MailboxDatabaseCopyStatus cmdlet to check the content indexing health for a database copy.

    Get-MailboxDatabaseCopyStatus -Server $env:ComputerName | Format-Table Name,Status,ContentIndex* -Auto

    For detailed syntax and parameter information, see Get-MailboxDatabaseCopyStatus.

  5. Run the Test-ExchangeSearch cmdlet: If the mailbox database has already been crawled, you can run the Test-ExchangeSearch cmdlet for the mailbox database or for a specific mailbox.

    Test-ExchangeSearch -Identity AlanBrewer@contoso.com

    For detailed syntax and parameter information, see Test-ExchangeSearch.

  6. Check the Application event log: Using Event Viewer or the Shell, check the Application event log for search-related error messages. Check for following event sources.

    • MSExchangeFastSearch

    • MSExchangeIS

    For more information, follow the link in the event log entry.

  7. Restart the Microsoft Exchange Search service: Use the Services MMC snap-in or the Shell to stop and then restart the Microsoft Exchange Search (MSExchangeFastSearch) service:

    1. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Services.

    2. In Services, right-click Microsoft Exchange Search, and then click Stop. After the service is stopped, right-click the service again, and then click Start.

  8. Reseed the search catalog: In some cases, such as when the search catalog is corrupted, you may need to reseed the catalog. When a search catalog needs to be reseeded, Exchange Search notifies you by logging entries in the Application event log. For more information about reseeding the Search catalog, see Reseed the search catalog.