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Desktop Search Finds Too Much

Enterprises have spent years searching for the silver bullet that will help users find the untapped intelligence that resides in corporate databases, e-mail messages, local Word files, and other assorted nooks and crannies. Now, Google is leading the charge to marry local hard-drive searches with Web search, bringing to light old documents, e-mails, instant messages, and Web pages viewed.

The problem? You and your co-workers might not be thrilled with what these desktop searches actually find. While you might well turn up important documents from the past that could help in current projects, you might also unearth your personal notes or e-mails, or material from people who used your computer before. Some things are better left unseen.

Still, the elegance and simplicity of Google's recently unveiled beta of Desktop Search is likely to popularize the concept of lightning-fast Web searches on your hard drive—displayed in simple HTML search results. Sure, a handful of smaller players have previously released desktop search apps, and most operating systems include hard-drive search tools. But as David Strom, Online Editor for CMP's Electronics Group, points out, "They will never be able to combine the power of local search with the power of an Internet search engine like Google."

While Strom is impressed with Google's first beta effort, other reviewers didn't think it measured up to existing applications from rivals such as X1 and Coveo. These programs support many more file types—including those on Macs—and offer enterprise-friendly searches of intranets while letting you keep sensitive information out of the search index. Coveo, formerly known as Copernic, recently released an update of its enterprise search tool with security and data protection. Best of all, Coveo's default setting doesn't index historical Web pages browsed, making sharing computers less risky.

Via Desktop Pipeline