Review: X1

X1 3.0
X1 Technologies
Pasadena, California

As I've mentioned before, I live and die by e-mail. I have gigabytes and gigabytes of e-mail archived, going back years. Cheap hard drive prices make saving everything forever a feasible proposition, but then another problem comes up: how do you find everything? For e-mail, files, contacts, and attachments, X1 might just be the answer.

What X1 does is build an index of your e-mail (Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, or Netscape Mail) and any file directories you care to point it at. Then, when you want to find something, you just open the X1 interface (which can be a full window or a docked or auto-hidden bar) and type in words you remember. As you type, X1 narrows down the possibilities, highlights the words you type, and eventually you find what you're looking for.

For example, right at the moment I have 454,390 e-mail messages indexed. I can type "Developer Central Rational XDE" into the e-mail search box and find the 157 closest-match messages, including my file copies of the issue of Developer Central where I reviewed that software, with no appreciable delay between typing and filtering. The tradeoff is space, of course. Indexing those 450K e-mail messages, plus 150K files, takes up 1.66GB on my hard drive - which is a relatively trivial amount.

There are other nice features here as well. The file search feature will show you the file within the X1 interface, and it understands a good variety of formats. You can reply to e-mails directly from X1 as well, and you can set up hot keys to make searching easier. Index updates can be scheduled once a day, or at intervals, or on demand, and don't take a humungous long time; rebuilding my Outlook index from scratch takes 5 or 6 hours.

There are a few things not to like here. The application uses non-standard Windows widgets, which I hate even though that doesn't affect the functionality, and there's no boolean or phrase searching (those are scheduled for version 3.5). I've also had the entire index get lost once, due to a mystery Outlook crash, but it was easy enough to rebuild. Given the ease with which I can now find things that I used to hunt around for, it's a real bargain for me. Depending on how much data you have stored, it may well be one for you too.


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