A Free Replacement for Windows Search

After nearly a decade, software developer Mythicsoft has finally released a new version of its popular search program Agent Ransack.  The program has always had a strong following as a replacement for Windows Search and the new version will further increase its appeal.

Windows inbuilt search function has always been a problem child. Older versions like that in XP took forever and made a habit of missing files while the newer versions in Vista and Windows 7 consume a lot of your PC’s horsepower building and maintaining huge search indexes.

If you only need to search for a file or folder by its name you can use the superb freeware program Everything Search which can find files instantly and carries virtually no indexing overhead.  However Everything Search can’t search the contents of files.

Programs like Google Desktop Search and Copernic Search will search file contents but carry a similar high overhead to the latest versions of Windows Search. Agent Ransack on the other hand will also search file contents but has virtually zero overhead as it doesn’t build and maintain search indexes. Instead it sequentially scans through the files on your hard drive and looks inside the contents of each.

This approach to searching is of course much slower than using an index but on the other hand it carries no maintenance overhead.  Furthermore Agent Ransack is much faster in its sequential search than the unindexed version of Windows Search like that used in Windows XP.

What’s new in the latest version of Agent Ransack?

The immediate thing obvious in the new version is the improved user interface:

Other important features include the ability to search inside PDF files and Microsoft Office files (though not Outlook .PST files). Boolean expressions and now supported as well as regular expressions. A 64 bit version is also available.

Agent Ransack is also available under the name of File Locator Lite.  This is an identical program but has been renamed as apparently some corporate IT departments are not keen on having a program called “ransack” on their PCs. 

There is also a $39.95 File Locator Pro that adds a number of additional features not found in the free version including context search and the ability to search within ZIP and Outlook PST files.  For a full comparison see here:

http://www.mythicsoft.com/Page.aspx?type=filelocatorpro&page=features

In my tests the free Agent Ransack proved remarkably fast for a sequential search program. For example when searching for a file name it searched 92,000 files on my hard disk in 27 seconds. When searching for some specific words in a PDF file it found and searched all the 86 PDF files on C: drive in less than two minutes and showed me the location of the search term within the PDF file.

While this is fast for an unindexed search program, it is slow compared to the index-based Everything Search which can find any file or folder by name in less than a second. However Everything Search cannot search inside files like Agent Ransack.

Overall Agent Ransack impressed me sufficiently that I decided to install it on my personal laptop, a rare honor for any utility.

Most of my day-to-day searching is email search and for that I use the search function in Outlook.  Most of my remaining searches are for files and for that I use Everything Search. Now for the occasional search inside a non-email file I now have Agent Ransack available and knowing that is a real comfort.

Agent Ransack can be downloaded from the Mythicsoft website here:

http://www.mythicsoft.com/Page.aspx?type=gen&page=download

The download file is 2.94 MB. The system requirements are not stated on the Mythicsoft website but it worked fine both on my XP test PC and on my Windows 7 laptop.

Gizmo

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