How to change the index location on Google Desktop

I’ve been using Google Desktop for quite some time now and never really bothered to look at the size of the index that it generated.  Last week, I noticed my computer getting slower, so I realized that my c:\ drive was almost full.  After looking around for something out of the ordinary, I found that my Google Desktop index was around 10Gb.  I started looking around in the preferences but found no option to change the location of that index.  So I Googled it…  and found that there is a way to change it, but only for the “enterprise” version. Nice… Real nice.

I poked around in the registry and here’s the way to change the location of the search index generated by Google Desktop.

By default, the index gets created in “%SYSTEMDRIVE%\documents and settings\%USERNAME%\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Google Desktop” and creates a random folder with your index data in it.  Basically, in order to change that location, you need to stop Google Desktop, edit the registry to point it to a new location, move the actual index, and restart Google Desktop.  Here are those steps in slow-mo and in more details for you:

EDIT:  In steps 2 and 3, you can simply use whatever folder you want on the new drive.  You do not need to re-create the folder structure.  I originally re-created everything to be safe, but it is not necessary.

  1. Stop Google desktop by right-clicking the icon in the task bar and select “exit”.  This is necessary so you don’t break anything while moving the index and so that Google Desktop knows the location has changed.
  2. Re-create the folder structure for Google Desktop on another drive.  For instance, I moved mine from c:\ to d:\, so I created the structure using a simple copy/paste in a command prompt. So if you go the the drive you want to use for the index, d:.  Then type “mkdir \documents and settings\%USERNAME%\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Google Desktop“, this should create the entire structure that you need to move the index.  You may need to replace the %USERNAME% variable, but if you are in your own account, the command should work just fine.  You can create the folders manually if you are not comfortable in a Command Prompt.
  3. Move the actual index files.  On your c: drive (or systemdrive if windows is not on c:) move everything that is under the original structure as “c:\documents and settings\%USERNAME%\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Google Desktop” to the new structure you just created.  This is the step that usually takes the longest since the index is a few gigabytes in size.
  4. Using Regedit (start – run – regedit) go to “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\Google Desktop” and find the data_dir key.  The path in this key should be the original location which you need to modify to point to the new location.  Double-click the key to modify it and simply change the drive letter to the new location or type the path to the new location if you are not using the same structure.
  5. Start Google Desktop and make sure everything is working.

This procedure is actually a lot easier than it looks and lets you free up a lot of valuable drive space on your system partition.  Let me know if it works for you.

5 Thoughts on “How to change the index location on Google Desktop

  1. Victor on October 31, 2008 at 3:29 am said:

    The same problem with me.
    The thing is that i can not find the data_dir key in the in the directory mentioned.
    Please, let me know if you have any ideas.

  2. well the data_dir key has to be there somewhere. Make sure you are looking for it in the right-hand pane, while the “google desktop” hive is highlighted on the left side. it’s a pretty big list in alphabetical order.

  3. Sabrina on April 5, 2009 at 3:46 am said:

    I did not find the data_dir key under “Local Machine” either— i found it in the “current user” directory

  4. you are right, it is located in the Current_user hive…

    perhaps I had a different version when I wrote this article.

  5. Pingback: Evaluating desktop search « The Manticore blog

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