Thursday, December 22, 2005

Implementing a Better File Search Strategy under Windows Server 2003 at Low Cost

Why do we need a better one?
Are you kidding...
  1. Hands up anyone who believes that you can successfully locate files using the Microsoft Search tool, every time without problems...
  2. Hands up anyone who believes that the amount of time it takes the Microsoft Search tool to locate a file is acceptable.

I'm sure nobody has their hands up.

Why are we all raving about Google Desktop?

If you haven't checked out Google Desktop - Enterprise Edition, you should make the effort and download it. It's free and it is very very good. This little tool indexes every file on your computer, your instant messages and your email. It even does Lotus Notes and Gmail. There are also lots of add-ons available for free, or at low cost. This tool will change the way you think about Microsoft Built-in Windows search tool.

Google desktop is so good that you can locate deleted and changed documents and look at their cached contents.

Google desktop can do some really cool network things, including indexing mapped drives. What it can't do is index servers or networks.

What we wanted was something that offered the power of Google Desktop, but which would operate at server level and give us the ability to search for files on our file server. We found that tool in dnka, a remote search add-on.

Google Desktop and DNKA were easy to install, but did require a server reboot. You can then configure DNKA to provide remove access to the index restricted by a password or by an IP range.

  • For our secure data server, which contains payroll etc, we restricted by both IP range and Password.
  • For our general data server, we restricted by IP range only.

I then built-in to our corporate intranet navigator, a link to the general data server - it goes something like...


Note that you also need to open your firewall software to accept connections on port 4664. You can usually get the firewall to restrict connections on this port to a given IP range too.

I gave the links to the secure server only to our information management people. Unfortunately the google search is just a little too powerful. So you need to think carefully about need-to-know in this case.

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