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some come in both free and retail versions (the latter usually having more features), while some of them have been withdrawn.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