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Have Microsoft Office? Fast Find is slowing down your PC
technofile  by al fasoldt
Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology 
Simple gray rule


Have Microsoft Office? Fast Find is slowing down your PC 


Technofile for May 17, 1998

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1998, The Syracuse Newspapers

If you're installed Office 95 or Office 97 on your PC, chances are you've got one of the world's best examples of bad programming running on your computer all the time.

It's called Microsoft Find Fast. It saps your computer's energy, slowing everything down. It also creates huge index files that are all but useless. And it does all this without getting your permission.

Take this monstrosity off your PC by following the instructions in the next paragraph. I'll tell you how to do it in both Windows 95 and Windows 98.

In Windows 95, right click on the Start button, choose Open, double click Programs, then double click Startup. If you see "Microsoft Find Fast" or "Find Fast," drag it to the Recycle Bin. Under Windows 98, click Start, navigate to Programs, then to Startup, and right click on the "Microsoft Find Fast" or "Find Fast" entry and choose Delete.

Find Fast is an indexer. It sleeps much of the time, waking up now and then to spy on all your Office 95 or Office 97 documents. It does that by automatically stepping through every byte of every document created by Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and the other Office-suite programs. According to Microsoft, this lets you find parts of those documents in a hurry.

That would be a fine idea—if it worked. But it doesn't. First, Find Fast is misnamed. It should be called "Find Slow," because it's abysmally sluggish. Second, Find Fast won't let you find anything, fast or slow, unless you get to it by the strangest route imaginable. You don't click on the Find Fast program icon to find something, nor do you even click on the Find Fast Control Panel icon to find something. Instead, you have to use either of these incongruous methods:

—Click Open Office Document on the Start Menu, then type a word or phrase into one of the text-entry lines at the bottom of the window that opens up.

—Have Word, Excel or another Office-suite program already running, then choose Open from the File menu and type a word or phrase.

I'm sure this made sense to someone at some point in the history of Microsoft. But it makes no sense to me. If I want to find the phrase "Dumb programming mistake" in something stored on my hard drive, I'd much rather click on a program called "Find" or "Search" and have it find the phrase for me. Microsoft apparently believes everyday users have no trouble choosing Open Office Document when what they really want to do is find the address of the knitting shop Aunt Martha put in a note she sent six months ago. I think Microsoft is wrong.

I especially think Microsoft is wrong to stick a porky old program—Find Fast goes back many years—into your Startup folder without explaining what Fast Find does and asking your permission to have it run any time it wants to. I get a couple of letters a week from users who can't figure out why their hard drives start spinning wildly every now and then, and why their computers slow down at odd times. By now, I have a stock reply: If you are using Office 95 or Office 97, delete Find Fast.

The idiocy is this is apparent when you look at your Start Menu. There in plain sight is Find, which works much better than Find Fast. Don't the folks who program stuff for Microsoft Office ever speak to their coworkers down the hall? One thing's sure: If Microsoft had any serious competition for PC operating systems, it would have no choice. It would have to find out how all the rest of us really use our PCs, and it would take out this kind of dreck.


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