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A Free Full-Text Search Program for Windows

Occasionally I need to search all the files on my computer for a specific word or phrase.  The "occasionally" part of that sentence is actually the most important, because it means I don't want to use a search feature that creates and maintains a full index of my hard disk.  It takes up space, and slows down my computer.  I'd much rather take the speed hit, and have something that can search without an index.  I don't search very often, so I don't mind if the operation takes a couple of minutes each time.

For this reason, I don't use the Windows built-in search facility, or programs such as Google Desktop.  Instead, one useful recent discovery is a free (for personal use) utility called UltraFileSearch.  You can download it at

The download, which runs under Windows XP and above, is only 1.6 MB.  There's also a portable version, which needs no installing, and consists of just a single application file.  It's a 0.6 MB download, as a zip file.  



I have tested the program with VirusTotal and it appears to be fully free of malware and viruses.  My thanks to Douglas for recommending this useful utility.


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by DesElms on 30. October 2011 - 21:38  (82427)

I figured out the killer combination of search tools, and have (if you searchh, you'll see) been recommending them here for years...

...and that's VoidTools's "Everything" for finding files at lightning speed...

...and then "Agent Ransack" for searching for text within files.

So I STRONGLY second what Kell, Cris and Gil have written here.

"Everything" is incredible. It does, indeed, build a little database, but it's not a database of files. Rather, it's simply a database of the drives it has been told to include in its searches, and their low-level NTFS structures. It, in fact, uses the same low-level NTFS scheme for knowing where everything is. Consequently, it displays search results before one can even finish typing them. It's unbelievable... I can't imagine using a Windows machine without it.

But, as earlier mentioned, "Everything" won't search for text strings within files. It only finds files by their file names... that's where "Agent Ransack" comes in. Truth is, I use Agent Ransack's commercial/fee-based big brother (the name of which I won't mention since non-freeware is apparently censored around here); but the truth is that the freeware Agent Ransack is good enough for most people.

Windows old-timers will instantly recognize Agent Ransack's general overall look and feel as sort of the way that Windows Search looked back in NT (and older versions) days. That's one thing I liked about it right out of the gate.

I'm unaware of anything that's freeware which is quite as good as Agent Ransack... including UltraFileSearch.

NirSoft makes a little freeware search tool... um... I think it's called "SearchMyFiles" or something like that. Like most NirSoft stuff, it's surprisingly good...

...though I'd say that Agent Ransack is generally a little better... probably best-of-breed among freeware tools of its type. Very reliable, accurate, reasonable speed. Of course Agent Ransack can't search for a file by its name as fast as "Everything," hence the reason that the "killer combination" is having both tools on one's machine... "Everything" to just find files, and "Agent Ransack" whenever one wants to search within files. It's difficult to imagine anything else out there quite as good.

Hope that helps!

Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California USA

by Anonymous99683298437 (not verified) on 30. October 2011 - 18:22  (82420)

Put a file in several different places on my computer and the software found none of them. Oh well I'll wait for the next program that comes along.

by Kell (not verified) on 29. October 2011 - 13:35  (82361)

Yes! Agent Ransack! Back when I found it, I had tried all the other software that searches for text. This was the ONLY one that searched all my files. The others searched MS files and a few other well-known programs.

I often search for text and need something that does a thorough search. That's what Agent Ransack gives me. It even searches through my (many) information managers. When they came out with the paid version, I bought it.

So - now, I wonder about Ultra File Search. Just what, exactly, does it search? Its usefulness will depend on how much software you have on your system and where Ultra File Search searches.

by John L (not verified) on 29. October 2011 - 6:27  (82354)

I have been using the free version of Ava for years. It's small
and superfast.

John L

by fiziee (not verified) on 29. October 2011 - 4:54  (82345)

I'm using notepad++ Find In Files function.

by Cris Deraud (not verified) on 29. October 2011 - 4:39  (82344)

I use the program 'Everything' by Void tools


It generates an index in a snap and finds files and subfiles in real time as you type.

by Gil Mensch (not verified) on 29. October 2011 - 5:37  (82350)

"Everything" is a great app. I use it myself. But Everything doesn't search within files. It only searches file names.

by qonphuzed (not verified) on 28. October 2011 - 18:31  (82323)

I use UltraSearch & if this is the same, it scatters (hidden) "X:\$Extend\$UsnJrnl:$J:$DATA" files all over drives (as databases). This wouldn't be a problem if they were moveable but they aren't. So, when defragging, files have to fitted around them (& these files are usually different each time). However, these hidden files can be deleted by running "fsutil usn deletejournal /n X:", either from the "Run" command or as a .bat/.cmd file. This doesn't affect subsequent searching - just run the delete command prior to defragging. (N.B. "X:" in the above represents whichever drive is required).

by RickMtl on 13. November 2011 - 16:53  (83216)

I want to clarify that there are TWO different programs:
- UltraSearch: which might leave hidden files (I have not tried it)
- UltraFileSearch: reviewed here. This one I downloaded and tested and it is AMAZING! I ran several searches and it did not leave any hidden files anywhere. It is very fast and does the job perfectly.

Just to double check, I contacted the author (Stefano Giannetti
from Stegisoft) and he confirmed via email...
"UltraFileSearch does not leave hidden files scattered around the drive."

From his email ...
"UltraFileSearch and UltraSearch are two different Programs developed by different Companies and have nothing in common because they use two completely different ways to access the File System."

I showed UltraFileSearch to several colleagues and they too were very impressed. I will add UltraFileSearch to my toolkit and will recommend it at my upcoming presentation to my usergroup (Tool4 in December)

Thanks Stephano!

by Australia (not verified) on 28. October 2011 - 23:24  (82337)

Thanks very much for this information regarding the creation of scattered hidden files ! Is this fact verified by the Ultrasearch website ? I also use Ultrasearch (which is very good), but I dont want to be deleting these files unless what you say is correct !

by RickMtl on 13. November 2011 - 16:59  (83218)

See my comment above.

UltraSearch is a DIFFERENT product that might (I have not tested it) leave hidden files.

I have tested UltraFileSearch and that does not leave hidden files. I contacted the author and he confirmed this.

Test out UltraFileSearch as I can attest it is an amazing product and one that will be in my toolkit from now on!


by TapanVerma on 28. October 2011 - 17:36  (82321)

My personal preference is Agent Ransack.