Thursday, April 3, 2008

Concerning Desktop Search ... a Preamble

This is a new blog, started in April 2008, in which I hope to informally discuss my experiences with desktop search products.

While I have extensive experience with search products on various enterprise platforms going back as far as the 1970s, I'll be restricting this blog to those desktop products available for the Microsoft Windows platforms.

I'm still using Windows XP Professional, although I've had Vista Business available to me for a year or more, and why I haven't switched over from XP is sufficient for a series of articles in itself! The search built into Vista is rather nice, indeed it's one of the few features that would encourage me to upgrade from XP sooner rather than later.

Over the past five years or so, I have investigated a range of desktop products: those built into Windows itself (a.k.a. Windows Desktop Search), Copernic Desktop Search (since its earliest releases), Blinkx Desktop Search (now, only an online search is available from Blinkx), Exalead, X1 Desktop Search, dtSearch, IBM OmniFind Yahoo! Edition, Ultraseek, Intellext, and others.

It has cost me tons of effort to try out these products, not the least of which is the hours and days spent building search indexes as I've moved from one product to another -- not to forget the painful rebuilding of indexes when some of them failed for one reason or another. I now have many tens of Gigabytes of files, and building a new index takes days to finish (even with my quite fast dual-core system, which has no lack of main storage, and with the index being placed on a dedicated disk drive to minimize disk arm contention).

Some of these products are free, some come in both free and retail versions (the latter usually having more features), while some of them have been withdrawn.

I have four other blogs to populate, a website to maintain, and all sorts of other distractions, so can only afford the time to make relatively informal posts in this blog: not extensively detailed comparisons of the various products. Yet I intend that what I do have time to report will be accurate and useful enough that it will assist readers who are seeking a desktop search solution.


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  2. Desktop search, great topic.
    My first desktop search was AVA find. It was very useful. I especially liked "Scout Bot". It would list newly added files in real time. Useful for finding installation files that are downloaded then executed automatically. Developer eventually disappeared. That was a bummer, because I had purchased three or four copies of that software.

    The next program that I used was X1. It worked okay, but the price got too high so I started looking around for something else.
    The next program I use was Instant File Find. I like this program because it indexes the files and it searches quickly. It also makes it easy to search for specific path, file size, or date range.

    I tried Copernic desktop search. I bought the license when it first came available to search scanned images. Copernic never did successfully find one single scanned image in my testing.

    So the search was on, I finally ended up with search everything. This is a great program, has lots of options that can be configured, many of which are too complex for me.
    It is pretty fast when it comes to rebuilding its index, and the searches are very fast.
    I have been using it for a couple of years now, and it works great.

    So what are you using now?

  3. Rick, I also use Search Everything and it's certainly a top-notch filename search engine for Windows. And I've learned to se;ect meaningful filenames when creating files, because this makes Everything more effective in locating files later on.

    But of course Everything isn't intended to search for content within files, and this blog is about other products that index content and make content searchable.

    The latest such product that I've tried is MSTech Search in Contents, see -- and I've been struggling to work out how it's supposed to operate. I fond it to be far more inscrutable and circuitous than other desktop search products that I've used.