View Full Version : truth about FInd Fast

02-15-2003, 02:06 AM
What do you guys think of this? FOr anyone that is...that values their privacy....

Have you ever wondered what that "Find Fast" program was under your control panel? Here's a hint: It has absolutely nothing to do with the "Find" utility located under the [Start] menu. Just to clear up any confusion before going on, Oblivion adequately explains Find Fast here:

"In any version of Word after 95, choose File Open and you'll get the Office App Open dialog. Instead of just a space for the file name, there are text boxes for file name, files of type, text or property & last modified. These are search criteria you can use to find one or more files. There is also an "Advanced" button that opens a dedicated search dialog with more options. When you use either of these dialogs to perform a search, that search process uses the indexes built by Find Fast."

But what would you say if I told you that Find Fast was scanning every single file on your hard drive? Did you know that in Office 95, the Find Fast Indexer had an "exclusion list" comprised of .exe, .swp, .dll and other extensions, but the feature was eliminated? If you were a programmer would you program Find Fast to index every single file, or just the ones with Office extensions?

FYI, If you have ever had problems with scandisk or defrag restarting due to disk writes, it is because Find Fast was indexing your hard drive in the background. It loads every time you start your computer up.

Now here is a good example of the lengths Microsoft has gone through to keep people from finding out Find Fast is constantly scanning and indexing their hard drives. (Always good to have an alibi.) Here's a snippet taken from microsoft.com:

"When you specify the type of documents to index in the Create Index dialog box, Find Fast includes the document types that are listed in the following table.

Doc Type File Name Extension
Microsoft Office files All the Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Web documents PowerPoint, Microsoft Project, and Microsoft Word document types listed in this table. Microsoft Binder (.odb, .obt) and Microsoft Access (.mdb) files. Note that in .mdb files, only document properties are indexed.
Microsoft Excel workbooks .xl* files
Microsoft PowerPoint files .ppt (presentation), .pot (template), .pps (auto-running presentation) files
Microsoft Project files .mpp, .mpw, .mpt, .mpx, .mpd files
Microsoft Word documents .doc (document), .dot (template), .ht* (Hypertext Markup Language document), .txt (text file), .rtf (Rich Text Format) files
All files *.* files

Did you get that last part? "All files?" Find Fast indexes Office Documents, Web documents, Word Documents, Power Point files, Project files, and -- oh, I forgot -- EVERY SINGLE other file on your computer.

Actually, the good news is that this isn't necessarily true. In another statement, Microsoft claims that if Find Fast deems the file "unreadable" then the file will not be included in the index. For example, your command.com probably wouldn't get indexed because it doesn't have a lot of plain text -- mostly binary.

But back to the bad news. Every single file that has legible text is going to be included in the Find Fast database. Do you understand the implication here? All text saved to your hard drive is indexed. The forensic capabilities are enormous, folks. Don't forget that "all text" also means previously visited webpages from your cache. See for yourself. Open up a DOS window and type:

DIR FF*.* /AH (This will bring up a listing of the Find Fast databases.)
EDIT /75 %ff% (insert %ff% with any of the names that were listed.)
Notice the incredible amount of disk accesses to your cache and history folders? Why do we need two indexes?

You can remove Find Fast using your Office CD, but I recommend you do it manually.

1) Reboot your computer in MS-DOS Mode.
2) Delete the FindFast.CPL file from c:\windows\system\
3) Delete the shortcut (.lnk) under c:\windows\start menu\programs\startup\
4) Delete the FindFast.EXE file from c:\progra~1\micros~1\office\ 5) It's important to delete the find fast databases (c:\ff*.*). 6) You can also safely delete FFNT.exe, FFSetup.dll, FFService.dll, and FFast_bb.dll if you have them.

Feel free to check out the ffastlog.txt (which is the Find Fast error log). It's a +h[idden] file under c:\windows\system\.

02-15-2003, 11:59 AM
To me it doesn't really matter that FF is a security breach waiting to happen, it a resource hog tha.t as far as I can tell doesn't really give any added benefit. I usually recommend killing it before it has a chance to firmly entrenched on a system. It is a waste of space, memory, CPU cycles, along with being a potential security problem...

Paul Komski
02-16-2003, 09:46 PM
Hear; hear! FindFast, OfficeAssistant and Outlook are all unchecked whenever I first install Office - never let what you don't want or need be installed in the first place.

02-17-2003, 07:18 AM
Yes, those are three good reasons for always selecting a 'custom' install when installing Office.

02-17-2003, 01:27 PM
OMG... don't even get me started on that Office Assistant thing... I can't stand it. It's the second biggest waste of time ever.

The first biggest are those stupid buddy things. Bonzai Buddies and the like... they are desktop assitants that merely assit in annoying people.

I loathe them.

Still, on the plus side I had a good weeked