X1 Professional Client, Version 6.7

X1Technologies wins test of six third-party search tools for Windows desktops

X1 Technologies' X1 was first released in 2002 as a free download. Additionally, Yahoo licensed the technology and it's still available as the no-charge Yahoo Desktop Search.

Best desktop search tools

The latest commercial product that I tested, now called X1 Professional Client ($49.95), layers a lot of capabilities on top of the gratis offerings – more than enough to justify an investment. The software supports more than 500 file types, lets you sort and refine your results, and searches e-mail in a multitude of e-mail systems, including Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, and Mozilla Thunderbird.

Additionally, X1 offers two separate enterprise solutions that use the Professional Client. Therefore, users get a single, consistent way to search and view results of content that sits beyond their desktop, without any new desktop software.

X1 eDiscovery Search employs a dedicated server to crawl enterprise applications as it looks for documents related to litigation. X1 Search for Microsoft SharePoint (content connector software running on your SharePoint server) provides a convenient way to find data residing in SharePoint repositories.

X1's setup program only has a few setting choices, making the process nearly goof proof. There's not much printed documentation, but you really don't need much. And online help is thorough. Optionally, IT administrators can pre-configure and manage X1 deployments. For example, staff can bundle pre-configured saved searches as part of a deployment that's done through Microsoft Systems Management Server or other management applications.

Indexing local e-mail, attachments and other files initially required about 20 minutes. Afterwards, I specified how often new or changed material is added to the index. There wasn't any noticeable system performance hit while X1 ran in the background. Also, the X1 index is pretty small – under 20% of the data being scanned.

The X1 interface, coupled with the product's excellent search speed, make for a productive experience. As I started to type a query, search results appeared almost instantly and included all sources. Alternately, using the tabbed interface, I limited results to e-mail, documents or other criteria. Within these filters, you might further refine results, sorting them by name, date, file type and location.

For more experienced users, X1 includes some advanced capabilities. For instance, you can search by phrase, Boolean logic or a date range.

Importantly, the X1 interface provides full-fidelity preview of files in their native format, including all Microsoft Office applications, PDF, and media (music, images, and video). I appreciated the capability to see e-mail attachments without opening a second application and to peek inside of compressed Zip files without uncompressing them. In fact, even if you don't have the source application (such as Microsoft Visio or AutoCAD), X1 will render the file and let you interact with it, perhaps zoom in on an engineering drawing.

I also liked the way X1 searches multiple Outlook PST files without mounting them in Outlook, which is great when you need to find something in an e-mail archive. This version, additionally, lets you search and preview RSS feeds – something not seen in other products. Since many enterprise applications (such as help desk systems) create RSS feeds, this capability extends the ways you can use X1 to locate information.

Once you've located the right file, only one step is required to open, send by e-mail, add to a Zip File, or perform similar tasks. Other time-saving capabilities let you save searches and export results as a text file or Excel spreadsheet.

The only very minor nit I could find was that the version I tested would not work with the 64-bit version of Outlook 2010, which should be fixed shortly. None of the other products (with the exception of Windows 7 Search) recognized Outlook 2010 at all.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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