Windows SharePoint Services Search Won’t Start (Stuck in ‘Starting’)

I recently added a new Search server to my single-server SharePoint farm and wanted to move the search load off my Web Front-End (WFE) server to the new Index server. I set up the new Index server with MOSS SP2 and added my new server to the farm. I then realised that I didn’t have MOSS SP2 on my WFE, so I duly installed that as well. However when running the SharePoint Products and Technologies Configuration Wizard, when it tried to start the Windows SharePoint Services Search service I got the following error in my log files:

The call to SPSearchServiceInstance.Provision (server ‘MOSS’) failed. Setting back to previous status ‘Disabled’. System.IO.FileNotFoundException: The system cannot find the file specified.       at Microsoft.SharePoint.Search.Administration.MSSITLB.IGatherManagerAdmin3.SetDefaultAccount(String bstrAccount, String bstrPassword)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Search.Administration.Gatherer.ProvisionGlobalProperties()     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Search.Administration.Gatherer.Provision()     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Search.Administration.SPSearchServiceInstance.Synchronize(Boolean installGathererApplication)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Search.Administration.SPSearchServiceInstance.Provision()     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Search.Internal.UI.SPSearchServiceInstanceSettings.BtnSubmit_Click(Object se… 

After a lot of web trawling for a solution (most of which say “database corrupt reinstall” or “just reinstall that will fix it” and various other related solutions) I checked my server databases. Everything was hosted on my single server at that time and it was also the database server for the system. The existing search server database was over 3Gb but with 2.0Gb free I wondered if disk space could be the problem? So I deleted about 2Gb of old database backups and tried again. All worked wonderfully! My disk space went from 4.5Gb free to 2.0Gb free so it wanted 2.5Gb space and I must have been just under what it required.

I couldn’t see where the additional data was being put – I am assuming at this stage it was copying/moving/creating a database file and just didn’t have enough space on disk to perform the operation, but rather than a “disk full” it just gives you “FileNotFoundException”.

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