dtSearch

PROS: Provides full control over indexing options, times, and managed content; offers excellent indexing options and searches many types of data (files, folders, websites, Outlook, and—using APIs—databases); provides instant search results

CONS: Search interface is a bit cluttered; doesn’t let you change the storage location of existing indexes; lacks ability to export index definitions

RATING: 5 out of 5

PRICE: Starts at $199 for a desktop license. Volume licensing is also available, and dtSearch provides other solutions that can be integrated with the product’s core search functionality.

RECOMMENDATION: dtSearch is geared toward users who really need to search large numbers of documents and data, and for users who need complete control over indexing and search functionality. If you routinely need to navigate lots of documents and data in a hurry, I recommend dtSearch as a must-have solution.

CONTACT: dtSearch · 301-263-0731
ww.dtsearch.com

I admit it: I’ve been a skeptic of indexing and desktop searching solutions. I’ve installed solutions from Google, Microsoft, and others in the past but haven’t been all that impressed—mostly because I’ve been annoyed by application performance and the lack of control over what gets indexed and when. But dtSearch has made this skeptic a believer by providing easy-to-manage indexes and blazingly fast search functionality all rolled into one nice, tidy bundle called dtSearch 7 Desktop with Spider.

Easy Index Setup
Setup and installation of dtSearch is straightforward and painless. I also found that I didn’t need the Quick Start material in the accompanying documentation because dtSearch is very intuitive. Creating indexes is actually a treat. Instead of using a treeview structure representing drives, folders, and files that you either include or exclude in an index, dtSearch takes a cleaner approach in which you explicitly add desired endpoints— be they files, folders, or websites. Adding these endpoints is simple, and dtSearch gives you excellent control over spidering options (e.g., how many links deep to spider, which external links, if any, to follow). Best of all, dtSearch realizes that you might need to create different indexes for different purposes and lets you create multiple indexes as needed. I also find it refreshing that dtSearch offers full control over when indexes will be populated (or updated) and lets you change compression and filtering options to help fine-tune indexes as needed.

Testing dtSearch
To put dtSearch through its paces, I pointed it at a motley assortment of documents, code, projects, and various other bits and bytes that I’ve been dragging around for years—including a large number of compressed (or zipped) folders and archives. Altogether, this bunch of data comprised over 40,000 files and took up more than 30GB of disk space. Then, to make things a bit tougher, I forced dtSearch to index this information over the network by exposing it as a mapped drive on my test machine. Indexing this mess took less than 90 minutes, but when it was done I was amazed at the kinds of things that dtSearch ended up indexing. Of course, I didn’t really appreciate this benefit until I started searching for various terms, phrases, words, and patterns. That’s when it became apparent how much power I had at my fingertips. I was also impressed at how quickly my search results came back: no lag, no wait— just instant results.

The only slightly negative thing I can say about dtSearch is that the search interface initially seems just a tad cluttered, as Figure 1 shows; this clutter is mostly because the application seems bent on displaying every possible search option to make sure users find what they’re looking for. In retrospect, I wonder whether I just didn’t have enough data to be able to harness all the search capability that dtSearch provides. In other words, if I had a few hundred gigabytes (or a terabyte or two) of data and documents, I’m sure that the seemingly cluttered UI wouldn’t be an issue. In fact, after I used dtSearch for about one hour to see if it would slow down, the UI really started to make a lot of sense—to the point that I was very comfortable with it despite its appearance.

Best for Complex Searches
My final analysis of dtSearch is that although it’s powerful enough to meet casual desktop search needs, it’s really targeted at users who need to instantly navigate mountains of data and documents. As such, dtSearch is a little overpriced for casual or simple searches (unless you’re a total control freak like me). But for anyone surrounded by mountains of data and documents, dtSearch is a must-have solution that truly proves that the index is mightier than the sword.