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Network World - Looking for a relatively simple and inexpensive way to improve end user productivity? Desktop search tools can help end users swiftly locate critical nuggets of data, freeing up time for more important tasks.
Of course, Microsoft offers a built-in search tool, which has vastly improved over the years, particularly with Windows 7. But many employees want features beyond what Microsoft offers, such as multiple query methods, auto categorization and clustering of results.
We tested six desktop search products – Copernic Desktop Search, dtSearch Desktop, Exalead Desktop, Google Desktop, ISYS Search, and X1 Professional Client. We also looked at the latest Microsoft Search, so we could evaluate the differences between third-party tools and what comes standard with Windows.
Our Clear Choice Test winner is X1 Professional Client. In every test scenario it proved superior – from the most documents types indexed and previewed, to type-ahead showing of results. It was also the only product to play well with Microsoft Office 2010.
We were impressed with Copernic Desktop's user interface and the simple way it refines results. However, it lacks the more advanced search and result-filtering features.
DtSearch has a modern look and provides a bevy of advanced search options and ways to manage indexes. It would be our main choice for forensic investigations, but it just doesn't pull everything together as well as X1.
ISYS lost points on usability. The unwieldy way indexes are managed – and the need to redo searches on individual indexes could reduce some of the productivity savings that desktop search promises.
Of the two browser-based tools we tested, Exalead and Google, Google is the better choice. We found that Exalead's faceted navigation outclasses what Google recently implemented on its Internet search site. But when we take in the whole picture, Google is our pick because of its almost insurmountable advantage in accurate Internet searches – plus the way Google federates those with local results.
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Heck manages portals for a large pharma company and writes about enterprise applications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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