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Mobile service searches for files back home

New service from search app vendor Copernic lets you find and access files on your home or office PCs from any remote device while you're on the road.

Known for its desktop search application, Copernic has a new service for the remote crowd.

MyCopernic on the Go lets you remotely search for and access files on your home or office PC.

By subscribing to the $9.95-per-year service, you can find and view files on your PC from any remote device--desktops, laptops, or smartphones including Apple's iPhone, Palm's Pre, or BlackBerrys.

The service requires that either Windows Desktop Search or Copernic's own desktop search app be installed on your source computer. (Copernic offers three variations of its search app--a free Home edition with basic features, a $50 Pro version, and a $60 Corporate edition.)

To get started, you set up your subscription at Copernic. You install and load the MyCopernic connector on your source PC. From there, you open the MyCopernic on the Go site on your remote device and log-in to your account. And then your source PC is ready to be searched.

MyCopernic on the Go search screen
The MyCopernic on the Go search screen Copernic

MyCopernic on the Go boasts that it can find just about any file type--document, image, e-mail, attachment, contact, or calendar item. You can search for files by name or category and even run advanced searches to include options like date and file size.

A preview feature lets you view files without having to download them. Dennis Dion, Copernic's vice president for sales and marketing, described in an e-mail the preview option as allowing "you to view a mobile-friendly version of your document without even downloading the file. This way, you are able to get the needed information (view your pictures, for example) without having to install anything on your device."

But if you want to download and open a file, that file's application would need to be installed on your remote device. So, for example, you'd need a music player to download and play an MP3 file.


One potential drawback: the service connects directly to your PC to search for files. That means your source computer needs to be powered on and connected to the Net when you run a search. Dion points out the upside of this. "You are literally searching your desktop in real time," he said. "This means no data is ever copied to the MyCopernic servers, which is more privacy friendly, and there is no need to spend time selecting the content to sync and performing the synchronization beforehand."

Copernic has created security measures for its new service: your PC is protected by a secure log-in, and the connections themselves are encrypted.

MyCopernic on the Go is available at Copernic's Web site and at certain mobile vendors, such as BlackBerry App World.

How does it perform?

I took MyCopernic on the Go for a test spin to see how it fared.

After installing and loading the MyCopernic connector on my desktop at home, I opened the MyCopernic site on my iPod Touch and started searching for files.

I tried MyCopernic on the Go with Windows Desktop Search. Before I could use the service, I had to make sure Windows Search was already indexing the files I wanted to find.

From my iPod Touch, I could search for all files or narrow it to such categories as e-mails, music, or pictures. Each category offered me advanced search options. For e-mails, I could plug in the subject and the names of the sender and recipient. For music, I could enter the song title, artist's name, and the name of the album.

MyCopernic on the Go also searched the contents of my files. I searched for several text strings that weren't part of any filename but were in the contents of certain files, and the service found them all.

The preview mode worked surprisingly well. I could view the contents of Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PDF files. They were unformatted, of course, but the data was all readable. I could view JPGs, GIFs, and other images. I could even grab the URLs of Internet Explorer Favorites and other Web pages. The preview won't play music or videos though; for that, you'd need to download the files onto your remote device.

MyCopernic on the Go found every file I threw at it, so the service performed well. The main drawback for me: I don't typically leave my desktop turned on when I leave the house, so the service wouldn't help me in that event.

And certainly there are other applications I can use to connect to my PC remotely. But I liked the way I was able to quickly and easily find files on my home desktop from nothing more than an iPod Touch.