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File-Search Utilities: How We Tested

We tested ten search programs: three that work solely or primarily with Microsoft Outlook, and seven that search all or selected files on a PC's hard drive.

Our test platform was a 1-GHz Pentium III system with 256MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive that was slightly less than half full. We created an image of the drive prior to the tests and used that image to restore the system to its pretest state after testing each product. The tests set each program to work trying to find a specific Word file containing a tip on wireless network security by Internet Tips columnist Scott Spanbauer, as well as to locate all files on a particular subject (travel books). The Word file existed as an e-mail attachment in a 30MB Outlook archive and as a stand-alone file in a 750MB folder that held a total of 1110 files and 43 subfolders. The folder was located at C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Desktop.

We recorded the time each program took to download over an 800-kbps DSL connection and to install on our test machine, as well as how long it took to index the local hard drive. All but two (Turbo Searcher and Sleuthhound) of the ten programs allowed us to index our Outlook e-mail, and all but two others (Bloomba and NEO Pro) indexed our local test files. When possible, we directed the program to index only the test folder; Enfish Find and Turbo Searcher began indexing the entire hard drive automatically. (Bloomba indexes files automatically as the program imports them from Outlook.)

Once each program had completed its indexing, we conducted four searches: The first three attempted to find our test Word document, and the last one looked for all files relating to travel books. The first search for the test document used the terms "spanbauer" and "wireless", the second searched only for "spanbauer", and the third only for "wireless". We considered these searches successful if the test file appeared among the first ten results. In fact, in every local-file-search program except Enfish Find, the test file was among the top three results the utility returned when we searched for both terms simultaneously. Enfish Find succeeded in discovering the test file after we manually adjusted its default settings so that it would index the target folder.

With the "travel book" search, we expected the programs to find at least 140 separate Outlook e-mail messages and at least 45 files in our test megafolder. Though the number of files each program listed in the search results varied, all of the searchers returned links to more than our target number of travel book-related files.

At a Glance
  • dtSearch Corp. dtSearch Desktop With Spider

  • Lookout Software Lookout

  • Lycos HotBot Desktop

  • Blinkx

  • Caelo Software NEO Pro

  • Stata Labs Bloomba Professional

  • X1 Technologies Inc. X1 Search

  • Enfish Software Enfish Find

  • iSleuthHound Technologies Sleuthhound

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