Copernicus may have searched for truth in the heavens, but his 21st century namesake, Copernic Desktop Search, available as a free download, ferrets out facts in the digital world. This free utility from Copernic Technologies hunts down files and e-mail on local drives. It has some flaws--for one, it doesn't search the entire Web as competing product HotBot Desktop does--but it's fast and easy to navigate, and best of all, it won't cost you a dime.
Like its competitors, Copernic Desktop Search installs in less than five minutes and requires only 7.1MB of disk space. It uses a configuration wizard to lead you through the basics, such as which file and e-mail folders to index. Once setup is complete, Copernic creates a searchable index of your data, a speedy process that took roughly 15 minutes on our 10GB test drive, then updates the index every time you add or a remove files.
Copernic's interface is the best of the desktop search engines'. A left-side search column allows simple keyword queries or more refined sleuthing based on file size, date, type, or folder. A row of easy-to-read icons at the top of the screen allows you to limit searches by category: stored HTML pages, e-mail, pictures, videos, and so on. Like X1, Copernic is lightning quick, displaying search results as fast as you can type. We also liked the Copernic Deskbar, a search window that integrates with the Windows Taskbar and is handy for quick queries.
Alas, all isn't perfect. Copernic lacks viewers for the popular image formats, and its PowerPoint viewer doesn't display graphics. We'd also like an integrated media player to preview audio and video files.
The Copernic Web site offers a FAQ, and a general support tab within the app has more detailed support for Copernic Desktop Search.