Tag Archives: Software

Locate32 and Dropbox – offline indexes of remote PCs

I regularly use Locate32 for my fast indexing – and searching – of PC files.  Plus I use Dropbox to store my shared files. So why not see if the two can work together?  A bit of experimenting showed the answer was yes.  Here’s one way to have an Index of one computer’s My Documents folder available on the other. And vice versa. 

I know that Locate32 can support remote shares (aka  \\server\share\) directly, but that has some considerations, not least of which is sharing  out My Documents. So I thought of putting the Locate32 index for one computer (Notebook) on Dropbox and having it used in another (Desktop). The steps, all done using Locate32 3.1 RC3 build 10.5090 :

On your first PC

  1. On the first PC (Notebook), create the new Locate32 index database file. Call it Notebook Docs, with a similar Description. Have it index My Documents or equivalent
  2. Save the index (say notebook.docs.dbs) to your My Dropbox folder
  3. Update the Locate32 index and test that it works locally

These are standard steps for Locate32. Nothing extra is required on this ‘source’ PC.  You can shutdown the Notebook now as we are finished. It is not needed for the following steps, including Searching its contents.

On your other PC

Now, on the other PC (Desktop) do this:

Start Locate32 and set it up to use the above index.

  1. Tools –> Settings –> Database
  2. Click on the Import button
  3. Navigate to My Dropbox and select the above index file (notebook.docs.dbs) and Open it
  4. On the Database options screen make two changes
  1. UncheckUpdate Globally
  2. CheckDo not overwrite existing data (e.g…”

Your screen should look a bit like this:


  1. Click OK a few times to exit

Make the results display more friendly and obvious

Now you can search this Index (and others).  A tip that helps further is to add the Database (name) or Database Description as a column on the main display/results screen. Just Right-Mouse on the column headings and select either the Database or Database Description. Makes it more obvious where the file really lives as can been seen below.

So, I was wondering where my document on my Grampians Trip in 2010 was. I was on the Desktop PC, so did a quick search.


There it is!  Note that the Database of Notebook Docs reminds me it’s on the other system – the Notebook.

Of course you can now do the vice-versa and create an Index for the Desktop and have it (read only) available via Dropbox on the Notebook. Or any other suitable computer.

Backing up my PC’s main data

Not much to say really. Except regularly backing up your key data is important.  I have an external USB2 hard disk (appears as my Q: drive) and use Microsoft’s free SyncToy 2.1

I run it in contribute mode with my synching folders (folder-pairs) something like this

Left Right
C:\My Documents    Q:\backups\My Documents
C:\Music Q:\backups\Music

SyncToy (ST) was initially designed to keep the two folder-pairs (labelled Left and Right) in synch. So if you added a file to the Left folder then ran ST, it would copy that new file to the Right folder…of that pair.  Or vice versa. Including changes/deletes.

Contribute mode in ST is newer and different, basically not really syncing, just copying from Left to Right and not deleting. It’s my quick and simple back up.   Mainly My Documents, Music,  business data (MYOB) and some text files/notes.

How I find my files (including on external disks and DVDs) & Blu-ray movies etc

Now where are those files?  I’m looking for the movie Big Buck Bunny.avi  as well as the unpublished masterpiece  My Life Story by Me.doc

They are either on the main hard drive … or maybe on one of my archive DVDs or – hang on – are they on that 500 GB external USB hard disk?    Then there’s the files on that old laptop that I access via the network. Mmmm.

The solution is to use a Windows file catalogue program and then do a search.  I’m only going to give quick overviews so you can go off and have fun trying them out for yourselves.

Key point: I’m really only interested in file and folder names, not their contents nor their tags (like mp3 or jpg files have). It takes much longer to catalogue inside a file and there are programs that will do this.

I have covered my tips for Archiving and indexing your digital photos elsewhere on SiC.

Files stored on hard drives, including external USB/firewire and networked hard drives

I use the free Locate32 to catalogue these drives.   I can then search for the file named Big Buck Bunny with the extension avi.   Or all avi’s.   It can do more complicated searches (size and date etc).  My basic Logitech keyboard has a Search key and I assign that to start up Locate32.  I also have Windows update some of  Locate32′s catalogues every few hours; the main ones.

FYI: on the main hard drive I catalogue My Documents, my Music folders and Downloads

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Archiving and indexing your digital photos

It’s now mid 2010. A quick search shows I have been taking photographs with digital cameras since 2005.  I was actually a late starter, but still have lots and lots of JPG and NEF image files. 

There comes a time when you have to move them off your hard drive to free up space. This is called archiving.  For my purposes this is different from backing up, which means taking a copy onto an external media, but leaving the original on the hard drive. Archiving means deleting them off the hard disk, once they are safely on your external media (like a DVD).

It’s a 4 step process:

  1. Copy them to the external media, usually a DVD
  2. Index them, including creating thumbnail (small) images of them, enabling you to still ‘browse’ them without having to hunt down your archive DVDs
  3. Create a 2nd copy of your archive DVDs (for taking off-site, see later)
  4. Delete the original files from your hard drive

I archive by year. In fact the photos on my hard drive are arranged by year too; I have top-level folders 2010, 2009, 2008. 

1. Copying them

Just use your standard DVD creation software. You are creating a Data DVD (not a Movie one!).  I use the free ImgBurn software.  Important point: give each DVD a sensible, unique Volume Label.  For my 2009 archiving it took three DVDs. So I gave them Volume Labels of DS.photos.2009.1   DS.photos.2009.2 and DS.photos.2009.3

After the files have been burnt, write the Volume Label on the DVD itself.

Verify the burning worked, by browsing a number of folders on your new archive DVD.

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