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Windows 7: More on search hell

26 Nov 2010   #51
Kari

 

Ok geeks, you are not going to like this. But please remember, this is just my personal opinion, based on the tests I've done today. No facts, just a subjective user opinion. OK?

I'll stick to Windows Search. I ran some tests and File Locator Lite is a huge disappointment. First I disconnected all external disks, leaving only my two internal HD's, C where I have Windows and Program Files (300 gigs, 160 gigs used) and D where I have ProgramData folder and user profiles (300 gigs, 250 gigs used). I also disabled indexing.

I searched the whole computer file contents to find all files where the word "Audit" appears. Search from Explorer > 2 minutes 50 seconds, 44 hits, the files I was looking among them.

More on search hell-search00.png

Then File Locator. I did not have enough patience to wait, I interrupted the search after 1 hour 40 minutes when it had searched just over half of my computer, finding thousands and thousands files. All hits useless; I mean, if I'm searching for a word in file contents, what the hell am I doing with all exe and dll files where File Locator finds this word?

More on search hell-search1.png

Windows Search 1 - File Locator 0

Next test. Explorer search for the same word in my user folder D:\Users\Kari (197 gigs). Windows Search 55 seconds, 37 hits, all relevant.

More on search hell-search0.png

File locator:

More on search hell-search2.png

Again, I had no patience to wait. I interrupted the search after 1 hour 13 minutes, when File Locator had searched about 65% of my user folder, finding over 130 files, mostly useless and irrelevant hits.

Windows Search 2 - File Locator 0

Ok, last test. Searching the same word, this time in my documents folder D:\Users\Kari\Documents (32 gigs). Windows search 7 seconds, 26 hits, all relevant. File locator 3 minutes 22 seconds, 26 hits, all relevant

Windows Search 3 - File Locator 0

Kari




My System SpecsSystem Spec
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26 Nov 2010   #52
Dzomlija

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kari View Post
Ok geeks, you are not going to like this. But please remember, this is just my personal opinion, based on the tests I've done today. No facts, just a subjective user opinion. OK?

I'll stick to Windows Search. I run some test and File Locator Lite is a huge disappointment. First test was to disconnect all external disks, leaving only my two internal HD's, C where I have Windows and Program Files (300 gigs, 160 gigs used) and D where I have ProgramData folder and user profiles (300 gigs, 250 gigs used). I also disabled indexing.

I searched the whole computer file contents to find all files where the word "Audit" appears. Search from Explorer > 2 minutes 50 seconds, 44 hits, the files I was looking among them.

Then File Locator. I did not have enough patience to wait, I interrupted the search after 1 hour 40 minutes when it had searched just over half of my computer, finding thousands and thousands files. All hits useless; I mean, if I'm searching for a word in file contents, what the hell am I doing with all exe and dll files where File Locator finds this word?

Attachment 117841

Windows Search 1 - File Locator 0

Next test. Explorer search for the same word in my user folder D:\Users\Kari (197 gigs). Windows Search 55 seconds, 37 hits, all relevant. File locator:

Attachment 117842

Again, I had no patience to wait. I interrupted the search after 1 hour 13 minutes, when File Locator had searched about 65% of my user folder, finding over 130 files, mostly useless and irrelevant hits.

Windows Search 2 - File Locator 0

Ok, last test. Serarching the same word, this time in my documents folder D:\Users\Kari\Documents (32 gigs). Windows search 7 seconds, 26 hits, all relevant. File locator 3 minutes 22 seconds, 26 hits, all relevant

Windows Search 3 - File Locator 0

Kari
And that is why whenever the subject of Windows Search comes up on SevenForums (or anywhere else), I always try to make people understand how much better it is than the sub-standard third-party utilities.

It could stand to be tweaked a bit, but for the emmediate here and now, it's the best there is.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Nov 2010   #53
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 
Apples & Oranges

Here are the results of my tests which still convince me Agent Ransack / FileLocator Lite(FLL) is here to stay for me. Windows for me at least (and others I'm sure) is an untrusty/flaky piece of software.
I can't compare Windows non indexed content searching because I cannot get it to work.
When the test for FLL is set up as Kari did I think it unintentionally biases the result. FLL will search absolutely every file on C: & D:. I do not believe Windows has searched the contents of every file in a non indexed fashion.

My results assume a defined search criteria which exclude "silly" files for a realistic search (eg. .exe, .sys, .vhd...). I searched for the string "audit" :
(1) as an isolated word
(2) as a string either isolated or as part of another

This is an unindexed search on masses of data with many more hits than in Kari's example. The example for the isolated word "audit" is from a Manifest file !!!
Both searches took less than 10 minutes. Of course you would generally constrain your search to better suit your needs

Agent Ransack / File Locator Lite = Robust, reliable, fast(for true non indexed search), nice user interface, very good search flexibility.


Attached Thumbnails
More on search hell-artest1a.jpg   More on search hell-artest1b.jpg   More on search hell-artest2a.jpg   More on search hell-artest2b.jpg  
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26 Nov 2010   #54
Kari

 

My last, third test alone shows the difference, doing it very clearly.

My Documents folder has ONLY relevant files, regarding this search test. I save there nothing else. I mean, at least in my case the Documents folder only includes MS Office files, PDF-files, text files and so on. No pics, videos, music, nothing more than documents.

And the results? Quoting my own post:
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kari View Post
...
Ok, last test. Searching the same word, this time in my documents folder D:\Users\Kari\Documents (32 gigs). Windows search 7 seconds, 26 hits, all relevant. File locator 3 minutes 22 seconds, 26 hits, all relevant

Windows Search 3 - File Locator 0
This was the only of my three tests where both found the same files. In my other tests, I didn't exclude any files from File Locator search because I also didn't exclude files from Windows search. Same terms for both. You call it biased when I use same terms and parameters on both searches, at the same time you are not biased when you have to use quite a lot extra time when excluding files from your File Locator search. Where's the logics of that?

BTW, you have to use even more time if you want to do it as easy as it is with Windows Search. Your search results include for instance control panel cpl-files, at least one movie clip, some language files for an application etc. so there's quite a lot to exclude, to type.

Besides, how many gigs did you search in that 10 minutes? My tests were searching over 400 gigs:

More on search hell-laptop-2_hard_disks.png

When search takes as long as it took using File Locator searching just over 400 gigs, or as in my last test only 32 gigs of documents, how long it would take when I have my 3.5+ teras external disks connected?

Have you even tried turning Windows indexing off and then using "contents:" parameter?

Kari


My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Nov 2010   #55
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

I'm going to need some time to digest your response. Just a couple of things.
Any reference by me to the word "bias" is used in the context of experimental bias and has no personal reference to you. We are both working on two different computers and datasets. My search statistics are in the screenshots.

You mention relevance of the finds of the string "audit". This confuses me since you either find the string in the document or not.

With (Agent Ransack)AR you can save search contexts. The file exclusion list is a user (me) defined context - you don't manually setup a context each time.

When you say:
"Have you even tried turning Windows indexing off and then using "contents:" parameter?"
Yes
I've tried the exercise on my D:\ drive which is not indexed.
with AR I have a directory with around 3500 source code subroutines
4 of them have " mjf modified x/x/x " in them and
finds the 4 in <1 sec.

Windows non indexed search finds nothing. It will find file names without any problem but not contents.

PS: I'm pretty much at the stage where:
(1) For me and others Windows search is flawed. Or we cannot get it to work for us.
(2) I don't shower praise on a program lightly and Agent Ransack for me gets full marks for what it is. It suits me.
(3) If you think Windows search is the best thing out since sliced bread and Agent Ransack is Micky Mouse - fine, I really don't care.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Nov 2010   #56
Kari

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
I'm going to need some time to digest your response. Just a couple of things.
Any reference by me to the word "bias" is used in the context of experimental bias and has no personal reference to you. We are both working on two different computers and datasets. My search statistics are in the screenshots.
My misinterpretation. I'm sorry for that.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
You mention relevance of the finds of the string "audit". This confuses me since you either find the string in the document or not.
English not being my native language, not even second language, I make this kind of remarks quite often. I mean something and say something else.

What I meant with relevant files regarding the last of my three small tests was that because I only have certain types of files in my Documents folder, only filetypes where text strings appear and are relevant to and should be included in search, the search environment was at least in my opinion equal for both search apps. No files to exclude, no exe, dll, com and so on files to go unnecessary through. This, I think, makes this last of my three tests more balanced giving really something to compare.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
With (Agent Ransack)AR you can save search contexts. The file exclusion list is a user (me) defined context - you don't manually setup a context each time.
Yes, that is only logical. However, this is one step you don't have to do with Windows Search.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
When you say:
"Have you even tried turning Windows indexing off and then using "contents:" parameter?"
Yes
I've tried the exercise on my D:\ drive which is not indexed.
with AR I have a directory with around 3500 source code subroutines
4 of them have " mjf modified x/x/x " in them and
finds the 4 in <1 sec.

Windows non indexed search finds nothing. It will find file names without any problem but not contents.
That I have to test more. I have a lot of code, from HTML to different dialects of C on my HD and I seem to be able to find what I'm looking for.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
(3) If you think Windows search is the best thing out since sliced bread and Agent Ransack is Micky Mouse - fine, I really don't care.
As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts in this thread, I prefer Google Desktop Search when I have to find complicated strings. But only then. However, we were talking about Windows Search versus AR or File Locator, and in my opinion it's easy to prove latter two belong to minor league compared to Windows Search.

I have too much data to search, no time and patience to play with searches that take an hour or more.

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Nov 2010   #57
James Colbert

 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Anak View Post
Thoughts on “Search Hell” As...


Hi Anak,

Thanks for a thought provoking post, and for informative links. Apologies for my delayed response, but the Thanksgiving weekend took me away (Happy Thanksgiving to all!).

I haven't really had the time to go through the pdf file as of yet, but certainly, I will. It is my hope that my experience with 'the inadequacies of search' will prove to be a lack of education, and that it can be mastered through the rigors of AQS research.

I must confess, however, that I still have doubts as to its efficiency and accuracy due to problems I've had with simple filename searches (using just the file name or various syntax).

I did attempt a search with the simple syntax in Ed's article: type:doc name:ch*.
I searched my Data drive, which contains about 16 GB of data, including Documents (about 2 GB), saved files from various apps (not in Documents), catalogs, database files and other data. I think most will agree that 16 GB is not an excessive amount. All drives are indexed and rebuilding initiated (with the exception of my Acronis partition). I found two problems with the results of this search:

1) The amount of returns. 344 in all, and they included 256 emails.

Not too big of a problem, given that sorting by type allowed me to eliminate having to wade through them all. The fact that the emails had cryptic, 'class ID-like' names makes those (.eml) results rather pointless, even if I were looking for a specific email that correlated with the search terms, opening 256 files to find the right one could become tedious and pointless. The likelihood is that I could search in my email client and find it faster. I suppose also that there is a filter to eliminate the .eml extension to narrow the results.

2) It failed to find at least one file that I created this very morning, and it did indeed have a 'ch' in the filename. And, it was in a folder stored on the root of D:\ (my Data partition). Not difficult circumstances.

This concerns me. Certainly it should have been included in the results. It was even on the Recent file list in the Start Menu. If I can't trust the accuracy of the results, or if it doesn't find the file I need, it's a problem.

It seems to me that you are partly correct in your conclusion that AQS is the answer, although the file it didn’t find seems to contradict. I think there is much I can (and will) learn from the pdf file you linked to (thanks for that).

I also believe that an accurate assessment can be found in Mike Halsey's article ( http://www.thelongclimb.com/?p=1110 ):

"A lot of the people... ...felt that these were the two extremes of what they were really after, and that the middle ground, better represented by the way you could search in XP, hadn’t been catered for."

Simply put, 'the masses' will not be able to benefit from WIn7 search simply because they won't take the time to learn AQS. This, IMO, is a no brainer. If AQS really is the secret, most are left out in the cold, or, 'Search Hell', as it were. It encompasses a complexity that most just aren't willing to take on.

I myself would be quite happy using more advanced forms of AQS, if that is all there is to it. However, given that valid returns were not included in my 'type:doc name:ch*' search, I still have concerns.

Apologies to all for the length of this post. For me, this is not the end. I somehow hope that the un-included file is my lack (but I somehow doubt this), and that I simply require a greater degree of AQS savvy. It's something I'll be looking into. And I'll likely learn a great deal in the process. Thanks, Anak, for your post, and to all contributors. I'm on a new path of learning.

The un-included results, however, are bothersome, and seem to support the oft-held conclusion that Win 7 Search is inconsistent in its performance for different users. I suppose time will tell.

James
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Nov 2010   #58
Trucidation

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kari View Post
I searched the whole computer file contents to find all files where the word "Audit" appears. Search from Explorer > 2 minutes 50 seconds, 44 hits, the files I was looking among them.

Attachment 117861
They keyword "contents:" is exactly what I'd been looking for. Dunno how I missed it previously, it just wasn't clicking for me until I re-read your post. So to test it I groveled through several gigs of .pdf manuals a coupla minutes ago and it found me what I wanted.

I love you.

In a manly, brotherly way.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Nov 2010   #59
Kari

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Trucidation View Post
I love you.

In a manly, brotherly way.
Thanks. Although open minded, I'm too old to start experimenting with my sexuality...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Nov 2010   #60
Anak

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Home Premium 64bit Ver 6.1.7600 Build 7601 - SP1
 
 

Hi! James,

No need to apologize for the length of your post, solid solutions require rational thought.
My hope is that you, and everyone else will have the patients to endure this one.


You are correct in your assumption that your .eml results will need a filter. I offer the first attachment as a qualifier, this view can be found at: Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Indexing Options\Advance Options\File Types.
As you can see I do not have the Registered IFilter either.

That's not all, I have a total of five not Registered IFilters one of which is for .pdf files.
The exclusion of these filters will degrade the performance of Windows Search.

The .pdf filter seems to be a matter of contention with a lot of users. I have applied the latest filter that I know of located here: Adobe - Acrobat : For Windows : Adobe PDF iFilter 9 for 64-bit platforms You will notice that it only goes to Vistax64, but it installed, is running, and has improved my search for text within .pdf documents.
With the plethora of .pdf style programs available today the corresponding IFilter will need to be installed if it does not come with the program.

Full-Text search is based on the character-based data in SQL Server tables.
By default, the following data types are supported: char, varchar, nchar, nvarchar, text, ntext, image, xml, varbinary, or varbinary(max). However, if you want to search for the additional document formats, you need to install the IFilter that supports the document formats.

Full text search should support pdf files, and logically can support .eml files if you can find a suitable IFilter for it, and there lies the rub.

So far the only solution I have been able to find is a registry modification offered by Microsoft here: Using Windows Search to search for Windows Live Mail e-mail will return incomplete results on Windows 7 64-bit Operating Systems

As to a installable IFilter, I have not been able to find one. Yet.


Win7 should come with at least a lite version of SQL. Mine is located at: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition\v3.1 .
This by itself may explain the problems with WinSearch, the full blown version of SQL may offer a better platform for WinSearch.

Quote:
This concerns me. Certainly it should have been included in the results. It was even on the Recent file list in the Start Menu. If I can't trust the accuracy of the results, or if it doesn't find the file I need, it's a problem.
The reason for this is because win7 handles the RFL differently than stored files, and it could be files that may not have been indexed yet.

Quote:
Simply put, 'the masses' will not be able to benefit from WIn7 search simply because they won't take the time to learn AQS. This, IMO, is a no brainer. If AQS really is the secret, most are left out in the cold, or, 'Search Hell', as it were. It encompasses a complexity that most just aren't willing to take on
I equate this to the recent flap with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) here in the States, and how they conduct searches.

Everyone wants the utmost in security, but now that they have it they are unwilling to submit to it.
That's just human nature; It's not me, it's you.

Quote:
I myself would be quite happy using more advanced forms of AQS, if that is all there is to it. However, given that valid returns were not included in my 'type:doc name:ch*' search, I still have concerns.
This is where that file may not have the proper permissions or you may have either an incomplete index or a corrupt one.
Security, and permissions are a whole 'nother story involving WinSearch, if the file is secure...Indexing can not touch it. Think UAC
One solution I found, that again is a registry modification. Please read fully, and take note of the “notes” before implementing. This can be found at DocBlases's post #8 here:
Win7 in-folder search is kind of crippled.

Quote:
Apologies to all for the length of this post. For me, this is not the end. I somehow hope that the un-included file is my lack (but I somehow doubt this), and that I simply require a greater degree of AQS savvy. It's something I'll be looking into. And I'll likely learn a great deal in the process. Thanks, Anak, for your post, and to all contributors. I'm on a new path of learning.

The un-included results, however, are bothersome, and seem to support the oft-held conclusion that Win 7 Search is inconsistent in its performance for different users. I suppose time will tell.
Your welcome. I agree, everyone's mileage will vary until WinSearch becomes reliable. Refer to my above comments about the un-included results.

I would like to see The forum Admins create a re-direct for any questions on WinSearch to a sticky for Windows Desktop Search, they could use gilmoses's thread here to start one.

Just the other day I was going to answer this one, How do I use 'Search'? , but thought different .
It would of been, just 'nother
until I saw DeaconFrost's answer in post #8. Instead I gave him some rep.
A mite drastic, but getting back to defaults works in a lot of cases.


Post #4 earlier in this thread by Dzomlija is another excellent explanation.

In lieu of the above, Brinks Tutorials on search here:

Search in Windows 7 , and the accompanying tutorials at the bottom are also excellent starting points.


For now, “That's it”...I have to go and swap-out a dead tractor battery.

Steve....aka...Anak...


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