Google Desktop Search

Famous for their fast and efficient Internet searching capabilities, Google now brings their technology to the searching of your hard drive with the new Google Desktop Search (GDS).

Once downloaded and installed, the GDS will index your hard drive and place a launch button in the Start Tray (Lower right-hand side of your screen) of your enabling you to keyword search documents on your hard drive.

The searching utility is both fast and efficient at finding words and phrases contained within documents, emails and even Web pages that you have visited. Common files that are indexed with GDS include Microsoft Office files, Web pages, text files and even AOL IM sessions.

The GDS won't replace the Windows search utility because it's not very helpful for finding specific files by name, but when it comes to finding content within common file types, it's fast, accurate and can't be beat.

All of this speed and efficiency does come with some privacy concerns. Just as you can quickly retrieve Web pages and emails you have viewed, so can anyone else who has access to your system. For example: even if you have deleted confidential emails (particularly those on Web-based systems) GDS retains copies of these and they are quickly available for retrieval even after the originals have long since been deleted.

In addition, confidential Web pages that have been viewed (think brokerage statements and other online financial accounts) are also retained by the GSD and are available for easy retrieval.

Fortunately, there are settings within the Preferences section of the Google tool which will enable the sophisticated user to disable the indexing and storage of Web pages encrypted with SSL and also to specify sites that should not be saved by the GSD.

Careful attention to these Preferences should enable users to adequately adjust the way GDS saves information in order to protect sensitive information. Unfortunately, by default the GDS installs with all file types selected so most users will not realize that these options exist, or their security and privacy implications.

For anyone who wants the ability to quickly search their hard drive for content, and is comfortable with the potential privacy implications, the Google Desktop Search can be downloaded from http://desktop.google.com/

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Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale