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Not long ago, Google introduced its eye-opening (and eyebrow-raising) Desktop Search application, a free tool designed to intelligently index and search many different file types in a PC: documents, e-mail, even audio (via file meta data).
Since then, a new version of the Desktop Search application was released that is targeted specifically to organizations rather than an individual desktop: Google Desktop Search for Enterprise.
Desktop Search for Enterprise sports two major differences from the conventional Desktop Search. For one, it searches and indexes a wider array of files and document types: It not only searches e-mail from common desktop mail programs such as Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla's Thunderbird or Mozilla Mail, but it also searches IBM Lotus Notes (probably the most common enterprise mail application at this point, next to Outlook/Exchange).
Desktop Search for Enterprise also integrates with the Google Search Appliance (a standalone hardware device that performs document indexing throughout an organization) to retrieve results available on other computers that aren't restricted by administrative controls.
The second major difference is that Desktop Search for Enterprise has features that let you restrict the scope of searches, secure existing searches with file-system-level encryption or use Group Policy settings to control what is and isn't indexed in the first place. The program is provided as a Windows Installer package, so it can be set up on its own or injected into a system image in a post-install action. And it can be tested in a reduced-access fashion before you make it broadly available to the main swath of users in your organization.
Google Desktop Search for Enterprise is free, but Google charges for professional-level support. The Search Appliance devices are also for-pay products.
Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- and please share your thoughts as well!