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More on Google Desktop

Someone wrote in to tell me that Google has a FAQ that addresses my incomplete search issue:

What good is a partial search of my documents, especially when I have no control over the portion that's searched? Does Google's web search engine only index parts of web pages?

Its a little amazing to me that, besides not clearly telling you what it indexes, Google Desktop doesn't have options that allow you to specify the following options for the indexer:
  • File types
  • Directories
  • Date ranges
  • Volumes
I don't ever see myself interested in a partial documents indexing.

People are complaining that the index storage is taking up a signficant percentage of their disk space (its 3 GB on my system). These options would help the size problem as well as give people confidence in the search results.

Time to uninstall and evaluate other desktop search solutions...

posted by Mark Russinovich @ 9:13 AM

This post has been removed by the author.
Thank you for this interesting analysis Mark.

I'd like to read your comments on other desktop solutions like Blinkx ( and MSN Desktop Search.
Does Google's web search engine only index parts of web pages?

Until recently only the first 100 KB of a document were indexed. However, they seem to have changed that.

I agree with your notion that partial search on the local PC is more or less useless.
Is it me, or am I the only one on the planet that wants a "FAST" way to search for a "filename" or wildcarded filename? Like *.gif returning all GIF files on my system.

Sure, Windows has a file search, but it's intolerably slow. Google creates a tool to search for all kinds of things, but not for "filenames".

As for other desktop search tools... I have looked at a few and not found any of them to be better than Google's. Now I didn't know about this partial search thing, so I can't speak for that aspect of the other tools, but UI wise, I still like Google's.
GDS is a limited tool so far, as you've found. It doesn't do many things I want in an indexed search tool (index the attributes of all files, plus the contents of certain files; find-as-you-type; preview pane; lots more file types; attribute masks; full type/location inclusion and exclusion customisation; cpu idle kick-in customisation; hit highlighting).

I think X1 Desktop Search is ther best compromise between UI and power (though it's badly missing prefix wildcards). You can get a good idea about the UI in their intereactive demo here (really needs viewing in IE) :-

Note that the top text input box searches everything; but the column headers are also text input boxes (and are sortable by clicking the column name).

In the desktop version, you can have, say, the preview pane vertically on the right, with the column headers in draggable, sortable, multiple rows on the left.

But if you can put up with the awful UI, dtSearch is the most comprehensive, powerful and customisable of them all :-

There's a pretty extensive roundup of Desktop Search tools here:-,1759,1771684,00.asp

Why don't more of them do 'live' indexing as files are created/changed (like Copernic)? I guess you'd know about that stuff: is hooking changes to the file system very problematic? The imaging tools seem to manage okay.

As the desktop search engine is still in beta, and you've sent your opinion to Google, maybe they'll have it changed in the release version.

Things can change a lot from beta to release, can't them? So just wait and see...
Mark Russinovich now has a blog... this is dangerous. And commenting on another piece of software?

I would have expected that as soon as you found something you didn't like, you'd write your own. How hard would it be to extend the windows indexing service to do what you want? I'm guessing it'd be easier than building the rootkit revealer!

Which by the way is really good. And gave me lots of bad news.
There are still limitations in the GDS solution.

You can exclude paths from the indexer ... I'm sure they can easily convert that to inclusion instead if desired. You can specify whether to include certain file types e.g. Powerpoint. You can't search by date (yet -- you can on Google), but the results are sorted by date if you want.

Here's a search you might also want to try:

"My documents" filetype:doc mark

The search implicitly compares against the path of the file. And you can specify what type of file you are searching for.

Zac Thompson
But you can't say, index only .ppts, .c, .cpp, for example, which is the kind of granularity I want.

Its also more intuitive to me to say what I want to include, rather than what to exclude.
I tried most of the search program but still prefer Copernic.

Amit @ Desktop Search Blog
vesperDEM: I think Locate32 [1] is what you're after.


I've tried a numbe rof these desktop search engines and I like Yahoo Desktop Search best.

I thought I was liking Copernic for a while but found that it was locking my outlook.pst file which prevented the outlook autop backup add-in from running when I shut down Outlook. I reported this problem to them but they didn't fix it.

Yahoo had the same problem at first but when I reported it to them, they fixed it.

i think it is just another part for google to tease microsoft.
(desktop search, open office...)
i´m stillwaiting for an os from google ;-)
How to find one or many documents among millions in seconds rather than minutes.

Use the later version of Ztree, such as 1.5rc, and use the option to "log all discs". This may take ten minutes, but you can the save the result to a log file, which will be loaded in a few seconds.

You can then use a global search for *.gif. The possibilities are much more complex, similar to GREP, but in a point-and-shoot intuitive way.

ZTree graphically (NOT a true GUI) shows progress, and by using "tagging" can show what it is about to do, before you choose to proceed.
For instance you could automatically open all found files.

In this case
(1) Install a free trial of Ztree.
(2) Log all discs
(3) Save the log file for future use.
then - to find all gif files in seconds:

load the log file into Ztree (a few seconds), type F for file spec, followed by *.gif and enter.
Then G for global will show all gif files in all partitions. There are simple ways to find by name, date, size, length of name, etc. Searching *within* files is possible, but of course will take minutes or hours.

I use this on 1.5 Ghz Pentium machine with well over one million documents.
I've seen something very disturbing that went away immediately after uninstalling Google Desktop: Delayed Write Failed. This error message appeared a while after I installed GD (perhaps shortly after it updated itself?) and the new sidebar feature. This message in the event log had the error code of 0xc00000a1 (ERROR_WORKING_SET_QUOTA) and was generated by NTFS but didn't seem to be originating from GD. I'm perplexed!
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