Schedule an indexer in Azure AI Search

Indexers can be configured to run on a schedule when you set the schedule property. Some situations where indexer scheduling is useful include:

  • Source data is changing over time, and you want the indexer to automatically process the difference.
  • Source data is very large, and you need a recurring schedule to index all of the content.
  • An index is populated from multiple sources, using multiple indexers, and you want to stagger the jobs to reduce conflicts.

When indexing can't complete within the typical 2-hour processing window, you can schedule the indexer to run on a 2-hour cadence to work through a large volume of data. As long as your data source supports change detection logic, indexers can automatically pick up where they left off on each run.

Once an indexer is on a schedule, it remains on the schedule until you clear the interval or start time, or set disabled to true. Leaving the indexer on a schedule when there's nothing to process won't impact system performance. Checking for changed content is a relatively fast operation.


  • A valid indexer configured with a data source and index.

  • Change detection in the data source. Azure Storage and SharePoint have built-in change detection. Other data sources, such as Azure SQL and Azure Cosmos DB must be enabled manually.

Schedule definition

A schedule is part of the indexer definition. If the schedule property is omitted, the indexer will only run on demand. The property has two parts.

Property Description
"interval" (required) The amount of time between the start of two consecutive indexer executions. The smallest interval allowed is 5 minutes, and the longest is 1440 minutes (24 hours). It must be formatted as an XSD "dayTimeDuration" value (a restricted subset of an ISO 8601 duration value).

The pattern for this is: P(nD)(T(nH)(nM)).

Examples: PT15M for every 15 minutes, PT2H for every two hours.
"startTime" (optional) Start time is specified in coordinated universal time (UTC). If omitted, the current time is used. This time can be in the past, in which case the first execution is scheduled as if the indexer has been running continuously since the original start time.

The following example is a schedule that starts on January 1 at midnight and runs every two hours.

    "dataSourceName" : "hotels-ds",
    "targetIndexName" : "hotels-idx",
    "schedule" : { "interval" : "PT2H", "startTime" : "2024-01-01T00:00:00Z" }

Configure a schedule

Schedules are specified in an indexer definition. To set up a schedule, you can use Azure portal, REST APIs, or an Azure SDK.

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal and open the search service page.
  2. On the left navigation pane, select Indexers.
  3. Open an indexer.
  4. Select Settings.
  5. Scroll down to Schedule, and then choose Hourly, Daily, or Custom to set a specific date, time, or custom interval.

Switch to the Indexer Definition (JSON) tab at the top of the index to view the schedule definition in XSD format.

Scheduling behavior

For text-based indexing, the scheduler can kick off as many indexer jobs as the search service supports, which is determined by the number of search units. For example, if the service has three replicas and four partitions, you can have 12 indexer jobs in active execution, whether initiated on demand or on a schedule.

Skills-based indexers run in a different execution environment. For this reason, the number of service units has no bearing on the number of skills-based indexer jobs you can run. Multiple skills-based indexers can run in parallel, but doing so depends on node availability within the execution environment.

Although multiple indexers can run simultaneously, a given indexer is single instance. You can't run two copies of the same indexer concurrently. If an indexer happens to still be running when its next scheduled execution is set to start, the pending execution is postponed until the next scheduled occurrence, allowing the current job to finish.

Let’s consider an example to make this more concrete. Suppose we configure an indexer schedule with an interval of hourly and a start time of January 1, 2024 at 8:00:00 AM UTC. Here's what could happen when an indexer run takes longer than an hour:

  • The first indexer execution starts at or around January 1, 2024 at 8:00 AM UTC. Assume this execution takes 20 minutes (or any amount of time that's less than 1 hour).

  • The second execution starts at or around January 1, 2022 9:00 AM UTC. Suppose that this execution takes 70 minutes - more than an hour – and it will not complete until 10:10 AM UTC.

  • The third execution is scheduled to start at 10:00 AM UTC, but at that time the previous execution is still running. This scheduled execution is then skipped. The next execution of the indexer won't start until 11:00 AM UTC.


If an indexer is set to a certain schedule but repeatedly fails on the same document each time, the indexer will begin running on a less frequent interval (up to the maximum interval of at least once every 2 hours or 24 hours, depending on different implementation factors) until it successfully makes progress again. If you believe you have fixed whatever the underlying issue, you can run the indexer manually, and if indexing succeeds, the indexer will return to its regular schedule.

Next steps

For indexers that run on a schedule, you can monitor operations by retrieving status from the search service, or obtain detailed information by enabling resource logging.