Searching an External Drive

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One niffy feature that I have found with the Enterprise Search is the ability to search an external drive that is shared as a network share. What is the fuss about you may ask? SharePoint 2007 also has this feature so nothing new in terms of SharePoint. What I have found is that one of the biggest obstacles to adoption is the phrase that a lot of users ask "What about all the files that I have stored in the file share?"

With searching an external drive this is no longer a problem, a lot of files that are kept have no use other than for archive purposes anyway and the great thing is that all the files on a shared drive can be search directly from SharePoint. The other great thing is that the refinement panel still works with the external drive files so you can quickly drill down to those files. Here's how to set it up:-

  1. In central Admin select Managed Service Applications under Application management.
  2. Select the Search Service Application.
  3. Create a new content source with the network path to the fileshare.
  4. Add a crawl rule to also crawl the file store location.
  5. Change the crawl configuration to include items in this path.


  1. Change the default account that crawls this location to be the account you should be using for the Search Service e.g. SP_Search or Service_SPSearch , whatever your AD account naming convention is.


  1. Give this user Read rights on the fileshare.
  2. Start a content crawl.

That's it, your files should now appear in the search results and you don't have to bother with costly and time consuming document imports.

UPDATE: 21/05/2012

I needed to do this again so I was following my own instructions and thought I would update this blog post on how we actually implemented searching an external drive. Having the results mixed in with the Intranet results was not useable. What I actually implemented shortly afterwards was a new search scope. This is how to do it:-

  1. In CA, assuming we are in the search service click on Crawl Rules.
  2. Add a new Crawl Rule and add the shared drive path.
  3. Click on Scopes.
  4. Add a new scope for the shared drive, select the Scope rule type as Content Source when creating and select the shared drive content source that you have just created.
  5. On the Site collection that you are using go to site settings and select Search Scopes. 
  6. Add a new scope.
  7. Add the Rule to the scope by selecting the rule in the Scope Rule Type.
  8. Select where you want this search scope to be accessible from - i.e the search Dropdown.
  9. One last thing remove the "All content" rule from the Intranet search scope and just select the one that searches the Intranet only.

Thats it, phew. In the time I wrote this update the shared drive has been crawled and is showing results.






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