NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, December 2011
Searching - or better still, Finding
By Phil Sorrentino, President,
Sarasota Personal Computer Users Group, FL
June 2011 issue, Sarasota PC Monitor
http://www.spcug.org president (at) spcug.org (click to email author)

Now where did I store that list of DVDs. I could have named it “DVD List” or “Movie List” or “DVD Inventory”, but I’m not sure. This is the situation I used to find myself in quite frequently when I have a hardcopy of something that I hadn’t used in awhile and want to change, but don’t remember where I stored the file on the computer. This problem can be solved in a few ways. An obvious one is to include, somewhere on the hardcopy, the name of the file and where it is located, like D:/MyInfo/HomeInfo/Inventory/DVDList.xls. Now if you have a hardcopy you can always find the file on the D: drive. But this solution doesn’t help if you have discarded or lost the hardcopy. So, thank goodness for Search Utilities.

Windows XP had a simple search utility that could be found by clicking the Start button and then selecting "Search" in the list on the right side of the menu. Once there, you could select “All files and folders”, where you could input “All or part of the file name:”, then select the Drive(s) you wanted searched, and finally select “Search”. As files and folders matched the search criteria, they are displayed on the right side of the window for review. If something is familiar, you can double-click it and inspect it further. More often than not, this process finds whatever was forgotten, lost or misplaced.

That was how it was. Now that I have upgraded to Windows 7, when I select the Start Circle (or Start Orb), immediately right above the Circle, I get a search box that suggests “Search programs and files”. When I input a word, like “list”, I immediately get results. So far, I have never gotten any results that I can use. (This may be because I have not set up “Indexing” correctly, or maybe I’m missing something.) So, although I am very pleased with Windows 7, I have not been able to find lost files as easily as I could with XP. (No, this is not, at all, a reason to stay with XP.)

If you Google “Free Search Utilities”, you will find many possibilities. But, just as I was about to start looking for a search utility, I read a brief review, in Smart Computing (Dec. 2010), of “Ultra File Search”, a free search utility. The review made it sound like it would do the things the XP Search feature did. I downloaded it to a “test Windows7” machine and after using it a while, I was convinced it could do the type of basic file and folder search that I was missing.

Ultra File Search can be found at http://www.ultrafilesearch.com/ And the developers describe it as follows: Ultra File Search is a Search Utility which is able to find quickly Files, Folders and Text on your Local, Network, DVD, CD-ROM, USB Hard or Flash Drives. Ultra File Search allows you to specify several File Masks and multiple Drives and/or Folders at the same time; it is able to sort out files and folders according to their properties (e. g. Modified Date) and find files which contain one or more specific words or sentences.

This Utility does not use background indexing, does not waste system resources and does not use extra space on the disk. Ultra File Search does NOT contain any Spyware, Adware or Viruses and is Free for Personal use.

(Note the comment about not using “background indexing”. Maybe that is the source of my not finding things when I use the Windows 7 Search. I’ll have to pursue those thoughts.)

From the description, it sounds like Ultra File Search attempts to replicate the features of the Windows XP Search feature. Ultra File Search has a start-up window that looks much like the Windows XP “Search Results” screen, but it uses tabs to present its features.

Upon starting Ultra File Search, the Files and Folders tab is shown. This is similar to the “All files and folders” selection in Windows XP. Just input a file name and browse for the drive you want to search and then click the Search button. Search results show up in the bottom of the window. The three remaining tabs on the opening screen of Ultra File Search offer different ways of attempting a search. “Containing text” provides the ability to search for a file that contains a specific text sequence. Think of it as looking for particular words or phrases in a text (.doc, .docx, .rtf, .txt) document.

There are a few options like “Match All” and “Case Sensitive” that may help with the search. Additionally, you can eliminate System, Hidden, Image, and Media files to speed up your search.

The “Date and Size” tab provides the ability to search for files that were "Modified, Created, or Last Accessed" between specific dates and times. This may be useful if you know the very specific kind of information about the file in question. This may also be a good way to eliminate large numbers of files under certain conditions. Additionally, this tab offers the ability to search based on the size of the file provided that very specific information is known.

The fourth tab, “Attributes”, provides the option to search for files based on certain system parameters” such as “Archive”, “Read Only”, “System”, “Hidden”, and “Directory”, which may be useful under some very specific circumstances. This tab also offers some NTFS only (New Technology File System), file searches using the NTFS parameters, “Compressed”, “Encrypted”, “Temporary”, “Not Indexed”, “Reparsed Point”, “Sparse File”, and “Offline”. These last search criteria may be useful only under certain very special circumstances and probably only to those very technically inclined.

If you are familiar with the Windows XP search feature, you will see that Ultra File Search provides, to a Windows 7 user, all of the features that were available in XP. Now with Ultra File Search I can finally locate that “DVD Movie List” I started looking for.

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