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by JB Burke

Q: I have acquired many files over the years, and have them stored on local drives, as well as USB external drives. Searching for a file in Windows 7 takes forever. Is there a faster way?

A: Indeed there is a better way to search your files. There is a file search program called Everything.exe, that you can download, for free, at VoidTools.  It runs on XP, Windows 7, and others.

Everything initially creates a database of all the file names in your system, on every NTFS volume. If you have FAT16 or FAT32 volumes, go to Microsoft for info on how to convert to NTFS. A new install of XP contains about 20,000 files, and that initial DB build takes about 1 second. If you have 1 million files, the build will take about 1 minute. And it doesn't hog system resources. Memory size used is small, as is disk space required. Everything also keeps track of file system changes, so it always sees all your files. If changes are made while it isn't running, it does an update when it starts – in my experience that update is so fast it appears instantaneous.

Everything doesn't search within files – it only searches by file name and extension. The search capabilities are quite powerful, using Boolean operators (and/or) as well as wild cards. This is all spelled out in the support section of the web site.

If it’s ever taken more than a few seconds to find a file on your system, you should try Everything.

Published: Courier 1/16/11 - Page 5C