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LookDisk searches your drives for files, duplicates, text, more

19 December 2013, Mike Williams

Your PC’s hard drive is packed with files. Windows doesn’t provide all the search power you need, and you don’t have the time to research a host of specialist search tools, either.

The answer? LookDisk. It’s versatile, searching your drives for files, text, duplicate files and more. A host of configuration options ensures the program works just as you require. It’s also free, and portable, so ready to use almost anywhere.

The program opens with a simple but straightforward interface. Plain text buttons on a left-hand toolbar lead you straight to the function you need, and sensible defaults mean you’re not immediately plunged into a complicated Preferences dialog. Finding all the duplicate files on your system, for instance, is as easy as clicking Find Duplicate Files > Search.

When you do need more power, though, LookDisk has plenty available. File searches can be filtered by drive, type (*.jpg, *.zip), file modification times (before, equals, after, or between two times), target file sizes (larger, equal, smaller or between two sizes) and attributes (archive, read-only, hidden, system). You’re also able to exclude files by type or location, further improving its results.

A host of configuration options helps you zoom in on the files you need.

This flexibility continues once your search has been completed, and you’re looking at the results. You can select one or more files in various ways (by name, location, more), then open, copy, move, rename or delete them, view their properties, perhaps open their location in Explorer. Or you can just save the list for easy reference later.

Even choosing some of these apparently basic options will still deliver more than you might expect. Select “Delete”, say, and you’ll be able to prevent the selected files from going to the Recycle Bin, or have them securely wiped to prevent any future recovery.

Despite all this functionality, LookDisk really isn’t difficult to use. It may take a while to set up a particular search – looking for all the duplicate JPEGs in your picture folders which have been modified in the last week, say – but the program can save your search parameters to disk, allowing you to reuse them later in a couple of clicks.

There are also some issues to consider. For example, by default LookDisk runs the most thorough search possible, looking for duplicate files by content, and searching everywhere, including within archives and across network drives. This is a reasonable way to start, but obviously it’s also extremely slow. If you actually only need to locate duplicates by file name, and search within your User folder on the hard drive, ignoring archives, then be sure to set that up just as soon as you can – it’ll make a huge difference to search speeds.

Elsewhere, the interface didn’t always work quite as we expected. Delete something on the Found Files list, say, and it doesn’t disappear, as you might hope. We could live with that, but you can’t scroll past it with the cursor keys, either. This isn’t particularly important – you’re still able to select items with your mouse – but it’s a little odd.

For the most part, though, LookDisk works very well: it’s easy to use initially, but provides plenty of configuration options when you need them, and its portability means you can take the program with you for use anywhere. Give it a try.

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