Is there a simple way to create an easy to use search database?

Posted on 2014-12-16
Last Modified: 2014-12-17
I have a department who is looking for a solution for searching many files without having the hassle of opening folder after folder. I thought a simple solution would to just search the root folder with a keyword, but I have been asked to see if there were some type of software available. If someone could give a few pointers, that would be greatly appreciated.
Question by:Dreye
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 40503641
I use Windows Grep to search text files.  I haven't tried it on anything else.
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Expert Comment

ID: 40503672
Windows search capability is sufficient to me. It does not require to open each folder separately and lists all results in one table. You may simply enter search term in the drive root and it will search through the whole computer incl. e-mails etc.

But it is slow... except of cases when data are on SSD discs. (Windows search would need better indexing.)

So you may use any other tool, e.g.
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Accepted Solution

Joe Winograd, EE MVE earned 500 total points
ID: 40503694
Hi David,

For indexing and searching files that already have text in them (such as PDF Normal and PDF images files that have a layer of text from OCR...the latter known as PDF Searchable Image), I strongly recommend dtSearch:

I have been using it for around 20 years...extraordinarily good piece of software!

For an individual, you could use dtSearch Desktop with Spider, but for your department, you'd likely use dtSearch Network with Spider:

When it indexes documents that are mixed binary and text files (such as a PDF Searchable Image file that has been created by scanning and OCR), it has an option to filter out the binary. This makes the index much smaller than other products which also index the binary code (for no good reason). dtSearch has an interesting filtering algorithm that scans a binary file for anything that looks like text using multiple encoding detection methods. The algorithm detects sequences of text with different encodings or formats, and ignores the binary. This is perfect for PDF Searchable Image files created by OCR.

It has built-in viewers for most common file types (PDF, of course...see below), but can also launch an external program automatically when the hit is on a file type for which it doesn't have a viewer. You can control whether or not the external viewer is launched on a case-by-case basis, that is, you can have different actions for each and every file type.

It has special handling for PDF files, allowing you either to view the PDF file in place (in dtSearch) or in a separate instance of Adobe Reader (and in both cases, hits are highlighted). Also, to improve performance, there's an option that lets you tell dtSearch to automatically open Adobe Reader for PDF files (the point is that Adobe Reader runs embedded in dtSearch and it opens PDF files much more quickly if Adobe Reader is already running separately when a PDF is opened in dtSearch).

It has extensive search options, including stemming, phonic, fuzzy, synonym, any words, all words, Boolean, and, of course, exact/specific phrases. Here's the search request dialog:

dtSearch Search Request
It utilizes the Windows Task Scheduler to update indexes. I currently have 44 indexes set up and I have it configured to update (a subset of) them every day in the wee hours. Of course, you may set it up to update the indexes as frequently/infrequently as you want (and you may specify which ones get updated – if some data is static, there's no need to update its index). You may have any number of indexes, each of which may index any number of folders/files, and searches may take place on one or more of the indexes. I often build an index on the fly for a folder/subfolders that I want to search – indexing is very fast (as is searching).

The capabilities go on and on, but it is not an inexpensive product:

Depends on how important search is to your department. In my opinion, it is worth every penny — you are getting what you pay for. As a disclaimer, I want to emphasize that I have no affiliation with dtSearch and no financial interest in it whatsoever. I am simply a happy user/customer. Regards, Joe

Author Closing Comment

ID: 40505502
Hello Joe! Thanks for your help! I downloaded the evaluation program and this is exactly what we need. I wish I knew about this program a long time ago.
LVL 52

Expert Comment

by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE
ID: 40505660
Hi David,

I'm glad it's exactly what you need. I was fortunate enough to discover the program in the early 1990s and have been using it ever since — from DOS through my current W7/64-bit system (I'm sure it will work on W8, but haven't installed it there yet). Also, their technical support is fantastic. When I have a problem, I email them at and I've always received a prompt reply from a very knowledgeable person.

Good luck with the project! Regards, Joe

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