Unregistered Microsoft Search .DLLs can cause problems

Because the search function native to Windows is used by other Microsoft products for full-text indexing, a missing or unregistered .DLL meant to be used by Microsoft Search can cause apparently unrelated problems.

The search function native to Windows -- the Microsoft Search service -- registers multiple .DLLs with Windows, many of which tie into different functions closely integrated with the system. One of these is the way the Microsoft Search Service turns up results gleaned from Microsoft Office documents.

Because the Microsoft Search service is used by other Microsoft products for full-text indexing, a missing or unregistered .DLL meant to be used by Search can cause apparently unrelated problems. This can also happen should the Search components added by Office (in particular, the OFFFILT.DLL filter) come unregistered or get damaged.

Some of the trouble caused by Search going unregistered or missing should be obvious. One possible problem is that a search for common Office documents turns up nothing, e.g., no documents that use standard Office extensions such as .DOC or .XLS appear in the search window.

Another symptom, less common and harder to discern symptom, involves any computer that has SQL Server installed (including SQL Server Developer Edition) with Full-Text Indexing enabled on one or more databases. In such cases, attempting to create a full-text index produces an error similar to this one: Unknown full-text failure (8007007e) occurred in function EnumCatalogs on full-text catalog

The simplest way to repair this is to re-register all the Microsoft Search components from the command line using REGSVR32 /S for each file:

In the directory %SystemRoot%\System32: 
athprxy.dll

In the directory %ProgramFiles%\Common Files\System\MSSearch\Common:
mssitlb.dll

In the directory %ProgramFiles%\Common Files\System\MSSearch\bin:
ftsqlpar.dll
mssadmin.dll
msscntrs.dll
mssmmcsi.dll
mssmsg.dll
mssmulpi.dll
mssph.dll
mssrch.dll
msstools.dll
nlhtml.dll
objcreat.dll
offfilt.dll
propdefs.dll
srchadm.dll
srchidx.dll
tquery.dll

If you experiencing these problems on a server and this technique doesn't work, you might need to manually restore Microsoft Search from the ground up by removing its installation instance from Windows and re-adding it.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators. He is also the author of the book Windows Server Undocumented Solutions.

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This was first published in July 2006

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