One of the ongoing conversations within my organization is the labeling of certain buttons as either "Search" or "Filter" buttons to get only specific rows of information from already-displayed data tables on page. Our current paradigm is that the "Search" button actually goes into our systems and pulls out a fresh set of data, whereas a "Filter" button uses data already in memory and simply doesn't display anything that doesn't match the selected criteria. The upshot is that "Search" buttons take significantly more time to execute their functions than "Filter" buttons, since "Search" functionality requires pulling back data from older legacy systems that can't be sped up.
This has me thinking-- from a UX perspective, when it is appropriate to mark something as a "Search" button or a "Filter" button? Should searches only be used in conjunction with text entry fields, while Filters are limited to a selection of options applied to existing columns within the data set? That's my gut feeling, but I'm having a hard time finding anything to support my theory.
What are your thoughts/resources?