Indexing a non windows box from Vista

13 03 2007

SearchOne of the killer features of Windows Vista is the integrated search component. It works a treat as long as the things you want to search are on that Vista box, or another Vista machine on the network that can have its index queried. Anyway, back in the real world, where people are still using Windows XP, or even more likely machines that don’t run Windows, such as, ooh let me think, a LanDrive, it’s not been so easy.

That was until I stumbled across a couple of posts that led me to believe that you could trick Windows Vista a bit. Now the search functionality in Windows Vista is running the same (or very nearly the same) code as Windows Desktop Search 3.0 for XP. This was released to the web around the time that Office 2007 was made available, as some of the search components of Office 2007 use the WDS 3.0 service. Being the cutting edge kind of person I am, I installed Office 2007 on my Tablet at work within days of someone in the iTeam foolishly sticking it up on the SOE drive, what I noticed immediately was that I could no longer search My Documents as it was mapped to a network drive. It seemed that MS had removed access to index network shares between the WDS 2.x and 3.0 releases. Not a big deal I thought until I regularly starting to lose things.

In December 2006 Microsoft quietly released an add-in to WDS 3.0 called the Windows Desktop Search : Add-in for Files on Microsoft Networks (catchy eh?), that gave back the functionality to search network shares through WDS 3.0. (Microsoft has subsequently put the UNC searching back in WDS 3.01 for XP)

So why am I telling you all this? Well it seems you can install this add-in on top of Vista and it will allow you to index network drives that have been mapped through explorer. The add-in will also give you the option to add a UNC location via the Advanced Options dialog but it doesn’t seem to work.

To get it to index my LanDrive I have added a number of network shares using the Net Use command which are persistent and map to each of the shares on the LanDrive. Now then I click on the Modify / Show All Locations options in Indexing Options, those drives are available and can be set up to index everything or just a subset of the contents. Now if I could just stop it randomly deleting things I would be set. I am pretty sure you could also use this trick to get it to index other drives on your network, but one little catch all drives have to be FAT based.

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