Copernic Desktop Search 2 review
Everyone needs a decent desktop search engine, and we review five of the best free utilities
Review Date: 18 Jan 2007
Reviewed By: Davey Winder
Price when reviewed:
These days, a good desktop search application is no longer a luxury. While there are plenty of hugely powerful, and often hugely expensive, corporate solutions to the local search problem, these don't scale down well to the consumer desktop. Thankfully, there are plenty of free alternatives. With everything from indexing speed to impact on system resources being important when it's your PC we're talking about, we put the top five free desktop search clients through their paces.
Google Desktop promises much, but the actual delivery is a little slow. By including Gmail messages in the index, the initial building process took a staggering 23 hours, and even with the Gmail option removed it was still among the slowest on test. In use, we found Google Desktop to be comparatively slow too, and sticking to a familiar browser-based online search methodology is a mixed blessing. It may work in exactly the same way as Google on the internet, but don't expect useful category filtering (just a long list sorted by date or relevancy) or integrated document previews. System resource usage was also quite high. Google seems to have put more effort in the rest of the suite, with the Gadget Sidebar offering a selection of newsfeeds, clocks and desktop games
Microsoft has done better, with the all-new Windows Desktop Search 3 (WDS) built upon the same engine as Instant Search in Outlook 2007 (see issue 148, p50). The interface is unchanged from the last version, meaning functional but not exceptional. Office application support is exemplary, document previewing good, and there are plenty of handy right-click options, including copy and print. Search refinement is better than Google, although it doesn't provide the best levels of instant result information. Where WDS does score is in performance: it's quick to index and return results, and system resource use is low too. We also like the attention to detail, such as when laptop battery life drops to 25%, the indexing stops to save power, and that the indexer runs as a system service. Ultimately, though, WDS remains average in this company.
Exalead has dared to be different with its One:Desktop product, most noticeably with the interface. Document previews show near-perfect formatting and, by moving the filtering and refinement to the sidebar, Exalead has created room for the presentation to dynamically adapt to the content of current search results. Navigating the interface soon becomes second nature. It's also fast, summarising both structure and concepts from your results - you can, for example, refocus email results to one name (author or recipient) in a single click, with the sidebar changing to reflect that new content. The search technology is good as well, with options including Boolean, phonetic, forced stemming and even "approximation" that allows for letter substitutions in keywords. But high system resource usage, slow indexing and an index limit of 100,000 documents (unless you pay £34 for the Professional upgrade) spoils this utility.
Quick to index and light on system resources, Yahoo Desktop Search lets you fine-tune indexing by setting idle time-outs ranging from 15 to 240 minutes, although a simple throttling algorithm would be preferable. Having to download an extension filter pack to index all 300 file types is bizarre in this broadband age as well. The default double-paned interface looks a little messy but, once you configure it to your taste, it becomes hugely usable. It even lets you set different layouts for every file type, ensuring you always get the view you want. There's an effective toolbar to refine results, and you can also highlight text from within a preview document.
- Audioboo to become Audioboom in app revamp
- Apple slaps down Google and police, as it takes high ground on user privacy
- Amazon releases high-end Kindle Voyage Touch
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Virgin carpeted again for broadband speed claims
- Microsoft set to make more job cuts
- Sony warns of massive loss on smartphones
- Dropbox app doesn't work properly with iOS 8
- Dark clouds for Adobe as profits slide by 46%
- Amazon and Microsoft spend big on Google ads
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Tim Cook's Apple back with a bang?
- BT Home Hub 5: how to get maximum speed
- 20 years of PC Pro: one-star reviews (including "the worst tablet we've ever seen")
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- How to install iOS 8 without deleting apps and data
- The best smartwatches of 2014: what's the best smartwatch?
- Nexus 6 (X or Shamu) release date, price and specs rumour roundup
- Best of IDF: top tech and memorable moments from Intel's tech show
- How Apple Pay works and how to use it on your iPhone 6 or Apple Watch
- Abuse magnets: the people behind corporate Twitter accounts
- Putting people at the centre of software design
- How to use remote-access software
- Tech support horror stories
- Become a tech support superhero
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office