Is It Time To Ditch Windows Search? (Part 3) - Search across the LAN

9/9/2012 7:05:11 PM

Search across the LAN

If you have more than one computer in your home or office, the problems of finding a file are exacerbated because the file you want may not be on the PC you're using but on a different one. You may find that a search for a file turns up nothing, because it's actually on one of your other computers. You might have to go to each one in turn and search until you find the file you want. Alternatively, you could use a LAN search utility.

Description: Description:  LAN Search Pro can discover files in the shared resources computers and devices on your network.

LAN Search Pro can discover files in the shared resources computers and devices on your network.

There are some search tools that can find files not only on the PC they are running on, but also on every other PC In the home or office. Not only will these utilities tell you if a file exists on another computer, but they also allow you to access it and to copy it to your current computer. This can save considerable time and effort when locating a file.

One example of a search utility that finds files on networked computers is Everything. It's a simple file search tool, so It doesn't allow you to find words or phrases, but it does have other advantages. It scans the disk quickly and creates a database of all the files. With some search tools you have to schedule scans every minute to keep the database updated, but Everything monitors file changes automatically and updates the database as soon as they happen. Searching is near Instantaneous and results are displayed as you type.

There are two ways to search for files over the network and Everything must be running on the computer to be searched. It has its own web server, so typing the computer's IP address Into a web browser opens a search page. You can then search and a list of results is displayed in the browser. Files have a download link so you can save them to the current computer. Usernames and passwords can be set to prevent other people from searching your computers and accessing files. The only downside is that it does not search the content of files.

Description: Description: Archivarius


Archivarius offers both file and content searching and it works over a network too. The network features are more extensive than Everything, but this utility isn't free. There's a server button in the toolbar, which enables you to configure it so other computers on the network can search for files. All that's needed is a web browser to access Archivarius from another computer and search it. The search results contain links and Information and files can be downloaded from the computer running Archivarius.

The software gives you detailed control over who's allowed to access it and what they can access. User accounts can be created with passwords, so unauthorised people are kept out. Archivarius scans the disk and stores the files In a database for fast access. Any number of databases can be created and you can limit a user to a particular database. Thus, you could allow one person to access only photos and videos, another to just documents, while you have access to everything. Security can be ignored if you're running the software at home; it's more useful in a company where you want to limit people's access to a PC.

Description: Description:

NetworkSearcher identifies all the resources on your network and searches for files and text within them.

LAN Search Pro is a free tool that takes a different approach to searching. What's clever about this is that you don't even need to tell it what computers, drives or devices are connected to the network. You simply enter a word or phrase in the search box and click the search button. It automatically scans the network for IP addresses, logs on to each computer's shared resources, such as shared folders, and scans them for files. If you have several computers in the home or office, it can find files on any PC without any configuration. It just does it, and it's quite fast too. The only limitation is that it can only access the files in shared folders whereas Archivarius and Everything can access all files on the computer it is running on.

If you need more features, then NetworkSearcher is very similar but has extras like a search area tree panel, the ability to copy, rename and delete files, search for text within files, and limit the IP addresses searched. It's not free, but it is better than LAN Search Pro.

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