48794: Acronis Files Connect: Search and Indexing FAQ

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Last update: 11-04-2019

This article applies to:

  • Acronis Files Connect (formerly ExtremeZ-IP)

NOTE: Information in this article related to Acronis Content Indexing applies to Acronis Files Connect 10.6 and later. If you're using an earlier version, please update to the latest since 10.6 introduced significant improvements related to search. Key aspects of this article do not apply to ExtremeZ-IP.

What are the different ways that a Mac can search with Acronis Files Connect?

There are four options, though normally administrators should configure Spotlight search using Option 1, Option 2 or both. Acronis Files Connect supports Spotlight search for all volume types -- local, remote, and NAS -- so there's normally no reason to use the older options (3 or 4).

Preferred Options:

Option 1: Spotlight Search with Acronis Content Indexing: Macs can issue Spotlight search requests over AFP and Acronis Files Connect will return results based on the index maintained by the Acronis Content Indexing technology added in Acronis Files Connect 9.0. Required for NAS indexing. See table for comparison with Option 2.

Option 2: Spotlight Search with Windows Search Service: Macs can issue Spotlight search requests over AFP and Acronis Files Connect will return results based on the index maintained by the Windows Search Service. See table for comparison with with Option 1.

Older Options:

Option 3 (deprecated): Catalog Search: This approach uses a filename-only index option that was introduced in ExtremeZ-IP 4.1 before Spotlight searching was added in ExtremeZ-IP 6.0. It's still an option, but in macOS Mavericks 10.9 and later, the Finder will not issue the type of query needed for this search method, so Spotlight search is now the preferred option. If you do use Catalog Search with older versions of macOS, note that index search results can be provided only for searches initiated at the root of a volume -- any search performed below the root of a volume will result in macOS performing an enumeration search (unless Spotlight searching is enabled). Also, note that this method only works with files local to the Acronis Files Connect server.

Option 4 (fallback): Enumeration Search: If Spotlight or Catalog Search aren't possible, the Mac will perform an enumeration search on filenames, scanning each file in the folder and all of its subfolders across the network. Enumeration searches are much slower than Catalog or Spotlight searches. This is the slow method that occurs when trying to search over SMB. This method can generate large amount of I/O on the server.

Which indexing engine should I use for Spotlight Searching?

Acronis Files Connect features two indexing options to support Mac Spotlight searches:

  • Acronis Content Indexing (ACI): an indexer built into Acronis Files Connect; required for indexing NAS devices.
  • Windows Search Service: built into Windows; this is usually the best option when files reside on a Windows server and Windows clients need search support.

Note that indexing is set on a per-volume basis, so you can choose the best approach for each volume – e.g., Windows Search on Windows volumes, Acronis Content Indexing on NAS volumes.
If you only need one type of indexing, disable the others in Acronis Files Connect Administrator > Settings > Search.

When using Acronis Content Indexing on a local volume, make sure the volume not also being indexed by Windows Search. There is no advantage to indexing a volume with both methods.

Here’s a detailed comparison of the options:

Search Capability Spotlight with Windows Search Indexing Spotlight with Acronis Content Indexing
 Index local Windows server Yes Yes
 Index remote Windows server Yes, with Windows Search running on target server(s) Yes
 Index SAN storage Yes Yes
 Index NAS storage No Yes
 Updated for each change Yes Yes, with "Monitor for changes and
update index continuously" feature
 Content indexing Yes (first 1.5MB of file) Yes (entire file with an optional limit)
 Filename indexing Yes Yes
 Filename-only indexing option Yes Yes
 Indexing millions of files The Windows Search service may experience problems with more than a couple million files Acronis Content Indexing is generally better for indexing millions of files, subject to the other parameters noted above


How long does it take for Acronis Content Indexing to index a NAS device?

It depends on several factors:

  • Whether content is indexed, or only filenames

  • The amount of indexable content in the files
  • The speed of the systems
Their active utilization
  • The priority assigned to indexing

Initial indexing may take several hours or days in some situations. Periodic updates to the index will be much faster.

You can increase the indexing speed for individual volumes through the Acronis Files Connect Administrator > Volumes > [Select a specific volume] > Indexing Options. By default, Thread Priority is set to Lowest to keep indexing from interfering with performance of the server. You can try increasing it to Below Normal or possibly Normal. Setting it to Above Normal is likely to have a significant performance impact on the server. The extent of the impact will depend on the performance of the server, including the processor type, number of cores, and speed of the disks and network.

ACI can be configured to skip content indexing and index only file names. This will result in faster searches and much smaller index files.

Can I limit Acronis Content Indexing to filename only?

Yes, the Index Type can be set to "Filename Only" or "Content & Filename" on a per-volume basis. The default is "Filename Only". This will result in faster initial indexing (often 10x), much smaller index files, and faster searching. It's a good option to consider if searching content is not needed for certain volumes.

How big will the index for Acronis Content Indexing be?

It will depend on number of the documents, their size and the amount and type of indexable content in each document. The general guidelines for the engine are 1/8 to 1/3 of the size of the documents. Keep in mind however that some documents may have very little indexable content -- e.g., there's no text to index in video files, so a folder with dozens of 20GB video files would have almost no impact on the size of the index. The "Limit indexing to X MB of each file contents" feature can be used to limit the indexing to only the first X megabytes of a file's contents, so as to reduce the index size and improve indexing speed. Filename-only indexes will be much smaller.

Where should I keep the index file?

On a local drive that has sufficient space to handle expected growth of the file. Do not put the index on a network volume. The location can be customized per volume.

How does Acronis Content Indexing work with filenames?

Let's say you're using ACI to index a volume containing files with the following names: Mercury Project.doc and Project Mercury.doc.
If you do a default Finder search on the word Mercury, it will find Mercury Project.doc and Project Mercury.doc.
If you use the Finder option to restrict the search to "Name matches:", it would find Mercury Project.doc but not Project Mercury.doc. To enable more flexible searching when using the Finder's filename-only searching, there are two options:
  1. Use the Windows Search engine for files residing on a Windows server. See chart for comparison.
  2. Change the Acronis Files Connect "begins with" registry setting. This will return all results, but with moderate to large indexes there may be a delay of 20 seconds or more before results are displayed to users. To get broader searches, use regedit to navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\ExtremeZ-IP\Parameters4\Spotlight\Refreshable and set SpotlightDefaultSearchIsBeginsWith = 0. Then in the Acronis Files Connect Administrator app, go to Settings and click the "Refresh Registry" button to read in the change.

Why can’t I select an indexing engine?

First in the Acronis Files Connect Administrator, go to Settings > Search and enable Windows Search and/or Acronis Content Indexing. If you only intend to use one indexing method, there is no need to enable the other.

If you set the checkbox "Support Spotlight Search on all volumes (global)" and select both indexing options, Acronis Files Connect will then automatically select the best type for each volume -- Windows Search for local and Acronis Content Indexing for reshare volumes. If you want to select an engine yourself, just uncheck "Support Spotlight Search on all volumes (global)".

Note that the use of Windows Search requires configuration of the Windows Search service. It must be installed through the Server Manager and set to index the volumes you want to search.

How do I configure the Windows Search service?

To enable the Windows Search Service, do the following:

  1. In Windows, open the Server Manager.
  2. Click Add Roles.
  3. Select File Services and click Next.
  4. Under Select Role Services, check the box for Windows Search Service. (Don't select Windows Server 2003 File Services).
  5. Click Next.
  6. Select the folders to index. (Start with a test folder if you want to confirm results without waiting for initial indexing)
  7. Click Install.
  8. Complete the wizard.
  9. Optional: To search PDF content, install Acrobat Reader on the server, which includes an iFilter that WIndows Search needs to index PDFs.
  10. Try searching for content within a file from Windows. If it doesn't work from Windows, it won't work through Acronis Files Connect since they're both relying on the same Windows index.
  11. Once Windows Search is configured, you can enable Spotlight searching in the Acronis Files Connect Administrator settings, globally and per volume.

Initial indexing may take a few minutes to a few hours depending on the number of files on the server. To do a quick test without waiting for initial indexing, just set a more limited scope in the Windows Indexing Options control panel. Try setting it to a specific folder to confirm searching is working, and then expand it to index the needed folders.

Searching Other Servers and NAS Devices:
•    The above information applies to shares that are on the Acronis Files Connect server or accessible as local drive letters (not mapped network drives).
•    To index NAS storage, use the Acronis Content Indexing option.
•    For files that Acronis Files Connect is resharing from others Windows servers, you can use Acronis Content Indexing or the Windows Search Service. Acronis Content Indexing would index over the network, while the Windows Search Service would be enabled on each server. If using the Windows Search Service with remote servers, the reshare volumes set up in the Acronis Files Connect Administrator must be specified using DNS names rather than IP addresses (e.g., \\f1.mycompany.com\share, rather than \\\share).

Mac Tips for Spotlight Searching

General Mac Searching Tips:

  • Start the search from a Finder window so that you can specify the network volume to be searched. If you search through the Spotlight item on the Mac menu bar, the Finder will only search its local disks.
  • In the search bar on the Finder window, make sure it's searching the right scope. If the Finder is set to default to searching the current folder, change it to search the volume. You can set the default scope in the "When performing a search:" option in the Finder preferences.
  • If you want to search across more than one volume, then select the Shared item in the Finder window rather than a specific volume name.

Troubleshooting Tips:

  • Make sure Spotlight is enabled for the volume you’re using or for all volumes in the Acronis Files Connect Administrator.
  • After enabling Spotlight, you will need to re-mount volumes before searching takes effect.
  • Make sure the volumes you want to index are covered by the scope of the Indexing Options control panel.
  • When using Windows Search, make sure the account Acronis Files Connect is running under (System by default) has full control over the volume to be indexed, starting at the drive letter.
  • If the Acronis Files Connect Administrator indicates "Failed to Initialize" confirm that the specified path is within the Index Locations set in the Indexing Options. Try putting something unique into a text file in one of those folders, e.g., SearchTest12345. Then search for that text from Windows Explorer and make sure that Windows finds it instantly based on the content search. If not, then you'll need to adjust the Indexing Options or troubleshoot a problem with Windows Search.