Windows Search, just like many other programs the operating system ships with, is not the most convenient search tool that is available for the system.
While it does its job quite okay, it is slow and cumbersome to work with, especially if you have ever worked with an application such as Everything which displays search results the instant you stop typing.
Hddb File Search, the Hddb stands for Hard Disk Database, is an alternative to Everything that improves it in several ways while it is not as efficient yet in others.
The author's initial motivation was to build a search tool for Windows that would match Everything's speed and efficiency.
So how does it work and what are the core differences to Everything?
If you have used Everything, you will notice a difference right away. Hddb is not available as a portable version while Everything is. Update: The author is now offering a portable version of the program as well.
Once you have installed the program on your system and started it up for the first time, you will be notified that the database is empty.
The program does not update the database automatically like Everything does. While some may see this as a flaw, others may like the fact that this speeds up the loading of the program on start up as the database does not need to be updated.
Useful if you just want to perform a quick search and not be slowed by the database updating on program launch.
Once the database has been filled with data, you can start using it. Just type and results are displayed instantly in the interface. If you do not use path information, Hddb will run a global search on the database.
You can limit this to directories by adding them to the search query, e.g. c:\users\ userchrome.css to only find matching files and folders stored here.
An alternative to that is the search for folder names without drive information. You can search downloads\ *.jpg for example to find all jpg image files stored in a folder named downloads or subdirectories of it.
Files can be launched with a double-click or by tapping on the enter-key. It is possible to mark multiple files in the interface as well. A right-click displays the Windows Explorer context menu so that you can run all common file operations on them.
So how is this different when compared to Everything?
Hddb does not display an UAC prompt on startup. The author has built-in an option to add a build service to Windows to get rid of the UAC prompt when the program is updating the database.
The program can not only display file sizes in its interface, but also folder sizes which can be handy if you need to free up disk space on a drive and want to find the biggest folders and files on it.
If you have used the sorting option in Everything you know that it may take some time before the data is sorted according to your specifications. The sorting of Hddb is a lot faster.
Another improvement is command line support. Most features of Hddb can be launched from the command prompt as well.
Everything on the other hand uses fewer system resources and comes as a portable version. And if you like the real-time updating, then it is the better program as Hddb does not offer that feature. The program can also be run as a server, offers to customize the database storage location, and supports boolean operations and regular expressions, which Hddb does not.
Hddb is a promising search program for the Windows operating system. It matches Everything in some areas, does some things better already, but lacks in others.
If you are using Everything and do not need the feature set that Hddb brings to the table that Everything does not offer yet -- folder sizes, command line support, no auto-updating -- then you may want to stick with it for the time being but keep an eye on the development of Hddb as its author seems dedicated to improve it in areas where it is lacking in comparison.