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Search Tools Survey - Popular Product Ratings

This survey has been on the SearchTools site since December 1998. It is not meant to be statistically significant, just informative.

The following tables list the responses rating the most popular search tools (6 or more entries) as of October 31, 2000.

Twelve search engines got 6 or more survey response. Comments from users indicate that the highly-rated products provide solid indexing and search functions, are flexible and easy to administer. Those with lower ratings tend to be older packages which don't have configurable indexing, adjustable results rankings, or good administration interfaces.

name average rating number of responses
Note: MondoSoft encouraged happy customers to take the survey
atomz Search
Ultraseek (formerly Inktomi)
SWISH (mainly SWISH-E)
Glimpse and WebGlimpse
iPlanet (formerly Netscape Compass)
EWS (Excite for Web Servers)
Microsoft Index Server (included with IIS server pack)
FrontPage WAIS Search Engine
Disclosure: The site is provided as a free service to the web development community and is not sponsored by any advertisers. However, Search Tools Consulting has provided analysis and information to search engine devlopers including Atomz, AltaVista, Siderean, Google, Inktomi, Maxum (Phantom) and Mondosoft (MondoSearch). We do not give them site visitor or survey personal information or allow our relationships with any vendors to change any product review or analysis.
October 2000 Survey Results

Sites & Search
 - Why Install
 - Why Not Installed
 - Site Sizes
 - Update Rate
 - Server Location
 - Languages
 - Multilingual Sites
 - File Formats
 - Summary
 - Popular
 - Custom
 - Others

Popular Search Engines (sorted by rating)


Available as either a remote search service or as Windows NT software. Indexes and displays frame heirarchies correctly; shows category organization in results.

NOTE: MondoSoft encouraged happy customers to participate in this survey, so the results are skewed upwards.

rating how long date reported What about this search tool works well? Any problems or issues with this search tool?
Average rating: 3.9, Number of responses: 10
5 3 years 08/1999 - -
5 1.5 years 04/1999 handling of Frames, categorized results, easy setup and update, ISP hosting of search. Does not read pdf files
5 4 months 08/1999 Very nice grouping and display of search results, frame support, etc. No problems.
5 3 months 08/1999 Administration interface Support of meta-tags Presentation of results -
4 3 years 08/1999 - -
4 1 year 08/1999 indeksering meta-tags video/audio - clip not incl sub-search
4 8 months 08/1999 - -
4 1 month 08/1999 Works with frames No
3 1.5 years 08/1999 Excellent search in dynamic pages Does not - in the interface - satisfy the advanced user's preference for using operators (i.e. demonstrate personal skills...)
- - 09/1999 - *search with wildcard (trunkering)


atomz Search

Remote search service offers free (ad supported) and paid versions, up to hundreds of thousands of pages.

rating how long date reported What about this search tool works well? Any problems or issues with this search tool?
Average rating: 3.67, Number of responses: 9
5 3 months 09/1999 being able to mask some pages... reliable... no [problems]
5 1 week 04/2000 Extremely easy to set up and configure; very fast; no advertising. Only indexes up to 500 pages, which I've already surpassed. [free version]
5 1 day 04/2000 customizable, fast, free, no ads none yet
4 3 months 06/2000 great searching, including through all the .pdfs it's remote and we need a search indexing engine we can have on our internal server to keep traffic inhouse/intranet
4 3 months 01/2000 fast not our program
3 4 months 08/2000 - -
3 2 weeks 01/2000 fast and displays well and free looking for a way for users to search for a word or term on the current (long-text) page only, with each one highlighted or ability to jump from one to the other appearance of requested word/term
3 2 days 09/2000 easy set up -
1 1 month 09/2000 index no ability to click on links



Free open-source software has a very active user and developer community.

rating how long date reported What about this search tool works well? Any problems or issues with this search tool?
Average rating: 3.0, Number of responses: 9
5 1 year 10/1999 good presentation of results. locally generated parsing tools. very quick response to query. bugs like everyone elses
5 1 year 01/1999 - -
5 - 08/2000 - -
3 2 years 04/1999 - -
3 4 weeks 03/1999 indexing websites foreign language support, no substring search
2 2 months 01/1999 It's better than nothing and inexpensive It's not thorough enough
2 1 month 09/2000 does return results with order of relevance results are often returned showing the key words as being in hte navigation
1 2 years 09/2000 it searches finds old content, not very fast or customizable
1 1 month 05/2000 it gives broken URLs the results do not match search terms the description is generic and generally displays the menu rather than a page description


Ultraseek (formerly Inktomi Search Software)

Powerful indexer and search engine can handle millions of pages, extensive browser administration interface.

rating how long date reported What about this search tool works well? Any problems or issues with this search tool?
Average rating: 2.67, Number of responses: 9
5 2 years 04/2000 Intelligent spider, ability to split indexing and searching across multiple machines, very good technical support -
5 3 months 01/1999 Low/no administration costs, incredibly customizable Doesn't do Windows NT Challenge/Response and so it indexes the header of the rejection
4 - 09/2000 Fast. Didn't come with CCE, costs extra.
2 2+ years 03/2000 - -
2 1 year 05/1999 - -
2 6 months 02/1999 performance, administration, customization limited capabilities. Need synonym searching.
2 4 months 08/2000 - -
1 2 years 08/2000 It searches domains on multiple servers. Hard to customize.
1 ?? 09/1999 ummmmmm nothing? bad help, bad tutorial, stupid to require + before each term


Webinator (Thunderstone)

Powerful configurable indexer and search engine, local server software requires config files and command-line controls.

rating how long date reported What about this search tool works well? Any problems or issues with this search tool?
Average rating: 2.44, Number of responses: 9
4 10 months 04/2000 - We don't have option to search by date...many other unimplemented features..
4 4 months 11/1999 detail of search results and searches across multiple intranet webs and virtual webs can only be used on the internal network
4 2 months 05/2000 ease of updating limited number of pages indexed
4 2 months 01/1999 switched from Excite -
2 6 months 09/1999 single-term searches work fine Gives title and first ~60-80 words, need title and description
2 2 weeks 05/1999 ability to create results pages identical to rest of site elimination of database if not used for 5 days; lack of radio button choice for "this site" and "the web" [older remote version]
1 2 years 08/1999 - It's been hard to configure Webinator to produce relevant results for users.
1 2 weeks 02/2000 Fast, easy, free. Seems to ignore common words such as "it", "on", "maybe". If someone searches for "Maybe This Time", they receive hits for "Maybe This Time", "A Time to Live", and "Time Out". I need a search utility that will give visitors to my site more accurate hits when searching for a specific phrase.
- 3 months 12/1998 good index, powerful -



Widely-used search engine has recently released a portal-oriented product.

rating how long date reported What about this search tool works well? Any problems or issues with this search tool?
Average rating: 2.33, Number of responses: 27
4 5 years 04/1999 Very customizable, Topics are very powerful Technical support needs improvement, need to concentrate on getting their core products working correctly.
4 3 years 04/2000 - -
4 3 years 01/1999 It is the only multilingual tool mostly with the vendor. They are not particularly helpful to our developers who are trying to build a DataBlade on top of our Informix server.
4 1 year 06/1999 highly configurable, feature set comprehensive and it seems all we need is already thought of. The support staff at Verity is phenomenally helpful. The product needs configuring to be effective. To get performance right out-of-the-box requires prior experience with the product.
3 3 years 04/2000 - We have run into size limitations with verity's search engine (approx. 100 Meg)
3 3 years 08/1999 consistent None
3 2 years 10/2000 - indexing is too long (5,000,000 pages)
3 1 year 04/2000 - -
3 1 Year 05/1999 - Indexing Problem, Inclusions & Exclusions from collection is a big problem.
3 1 year 01/1999 - -
3 6 months 04/2000 fast, usually accurate, easy to maintain won't handle as large a collection as we need it to. Doesn't provide any way to show the file size.
2 2 years 10/2000 - -
2 2 years 05/2000 booleans, identification of individual search volumes, legible output limited number of volumes, no logging of search statements (i.e., so we can't analyze user behavior), relevancy ranking often questionable
2 2 years 09/1999 - Dynamic pages / multi language
2 2 years 09/1999 - We need a more robust solution.
2 1 year 10/2000 ususally find some results results are not always accurate. lot of duplications. sometimes return wrong inforamation
2 1 year 07/2000 - -
2 1 year 04/2000 Pretty easy to setup. No automated way to add and remove documents from the search. Have to manually use a browser to remove obsolete documents. There is a automated way to reindex and optimize, but doesn't do any good if it doesn't handle documents that have been deleted or new documents that have been added to the site.
2 1 year 10/1999 - -
2 3 months 06/1999 The hits come up as links. If language is carefully used, good hits result. Hard to customize, and it needed lots of customization.
2 1 month 01/1999 - -
2 - 03/1999 - No scheduling/No spidering
1 3 years 02/2000 That's the problem--it doesn't. Constantly hangs up and sucks CPU cycles.
1 2 years 05/2000 General search capabilities of HTML-only files worked well until recently. Multi-format indexing doesn't work well (and isn't delivered in the new releases) indexing generally doesn't finish. Support is poor. (Netscape relay support.)
1 2 years 07/1999 - The site retrieves results with partial key word occurences. Key word occurence navigation is clumsy. Document comparison is clumsy.
1 1 year 01/1999 - -
- - 02/1999 - -



Free open-source software indexes meta tag information.
rating how long date reported What about this search tool works well? Any problems or issues with this search tool?
Average rating: 2.3, Number of responses: 10
4 4 years 01/1999 small index size, html tag aware, nice interface to front-ends, so we can do custom interfaces not really. i hear that people who try to do spidering via swish have problems
4 8 months 04/2000 Implemented Swish-E only against specific content collections to date. We have plans to get more ambitious with Swish-E since we've just installed the most current version which supports meta tags and, my tech expert assures me, can handle cross-database searching. -
3 2 years 04/1999 does simple minded indexing well hard to control how far it goes from a local page
3 1.5 years 01/1999 It indexes doesn't handle phrases well, at all?
2 5 years 03/2000 cros-site indexing not enough info...
2 3 years 05/1999 fast indices take a long time to build for large sites
2 2 years 04/2000 It finds the file within the site where the keyed terms reside. It can't show me WHERE in the located files the keyed terms are found.
1 3-4 years 03/1999 Swish is nice, free, does one server well. Harvest is free, handles multiple sites. Swish can only cover our one server, and I want to index about 20 throughout the School of Medicine. Harvest is no longer supported, and the AIX ver. I can install can't handle newer servers, frames, databases, etc.
1 2.5 years 01/2000 Easy to update index, quick results. Provides links to pages containing the search string, but not to "bookmark" tags within those pages. Does not display context in which the string was found.
1 3 months 09/2000 It finds the documents, but presentation of the results is not very user friendly It is limited - freeware


Glimpse and WebGlimpse

Widely-installed search engine from the early days of the Web.
rating how long date reported What about this search tool works well? Any problems or issues with this search tool?
Average rating: 2.17, Number of responses: 6
3 5 years 04/1999 - -
3 1 month 05/1999 Well, it generally works rather well. Problems with umlauted characters
2 3 Years 04/1999 Proximity searching (search strings), searching for regular expressions, boolean queries Ranking of hits, searching in html tags
2 2 years 02/1999 It's currently running Relevance ranking, boolean searches, approximate searches, etc. all missing
2 1 year 05/2000 fast, accurate poor format coverage
1 3 years 04/1999 It's installed... Terrible features


iPlanet Portal Server Search (formerly Netscape Compass)

Complex search engine with automated classification and categorization.
rating how long date reported What about this search tool works well? Any problems or issues with this search tool?
Average rating: 2.12, Number of responses: 8
3 2+ years 08/2000 Quick search, handles volume, good stability, good advanced search Had problems with categories, heavy on system resources, unavailable for Linux (which we are moving to from Solaris)
3 3 months 01/1999 very fast and customizable bad reindex algorithm, bad documentation
2 3 years 10/2000 - -
2 2 years 07/1999 full text search you manually have to create and the collections
2 8 months 01/1999 Personalized newsletters. for users. In additon to Netscape Compass, we also use SemioMap Text Mining Erratic with known catagorization bugs
2 3 months 05/1999 - -
2 2 months 05/1999 The search allows users to search multiple repositories of information with a single command or search entry. Categorization is manual and labour-intensive. A simple search is not necessarily the answer to finding a specific technical answer within a large volume of information. That is, the tool consolidates a search, but most searches return too many results.
1 1 year 03/2000 It does basic indexing fairly well Yes, Compass server doesn't filter on metatags very well.


EWS (Excite for Web Servers)

One of the first free site search engines, does only local server indexing (no web crawling spider).
rating how long date reported What about this search tool works well? Any problems or issues with this search tool?
Average rating: 2.07, Number of responses: 14
5 2 years 11/1999 Very easy to maintain with a web-based (CGI) GUI. Newest version not available on AIX. AIX version doesn't allow you to control summaries (but newer version allows you to use description meta tags). Not as customizable as other tools. Doesn't seem to be supported by Excite anymore (I think latest version was in 1997)
4 1 year 12/1999 The cgi portion of the program is easy to modify and it's include and exclude options are solid complicated instructions, assumes more about the user then it should
3 2.5 years 04/1999 Fast, supports multiple collections, ranking system is OK; version we're using is free Can't search for fixed phrases in quotation marks; no Boolean capabilities.
2 3 years 09/2000 - -
2 3 years 06/2000 - We don't like the way it displays the results. The search is only for part of the site-for a specific set of text files.
2 3 years 04/2000 quick. cost effective. primitive
2 2+ years 01/1999 It's free, provided we use company specific meta tags, the search results is pretty good. It's free w/ little to no support, have to reindex each server
2 1 year 05/2000 It searches HTML faily well Complex and does not support PDF format
2 1 year 08/1999 - Can't index PDF documents. Can't crawl multiple servers.
2 1 month 04/2000 - -
1 4 years 01/2000 - -
1 2 years 07/1999 Easy to administer, stable results are not useful and often don't retrieve what they should at all
1 1 year 06/1999 nothing doesn't find many pages!
- 2 years 04/2000 config, run, search not very powerful, not configurable L&F


Microsoft Index Server (included with IIS server pack)

rating how long date reported What about this search tool works well? Any problems or issues with this search tool?
Average rating: 1.78, Number of responses: 22
5 - 11/1999 - -
4 1 year 05/1999 Very customizable - can search by boolean or natural language - multilingual - can search/sort by numerous types of data (author, title, date, etc.) - FREE poor documentation included - must go to Microsoft site for in-depth info on use and customization.
4 3 months 01/1999 Easy to program (version2) -
2 2 years 09/2000 supposed to work well with Boolean searches doesn't work as well with natural language queries; can't read metatags unless you use @DocKeywords; apparently doesn't search across multiple servers well (that's what I was told)
2 2 years 02/2000 - -
2 2 years 09/1999 Easy to install and use -- low maintenance Does not give us the advanced features we desire
2 1.5 years 05/2000 It is integrated with IIS and NT's MMC. There is an inherent "bug" that is documented in Microsoft's knowledge base, that when the site is deep, as ours is, it searches _vti_bin and other FrontPage configuration directories.
2 1 year 01/2000 It indexes the files... Add-ins for e.g. PDF. OK performance. Free! Crash monthly. Bad hit ranking. Bad documentation.
2 3 months 08/1999 OK for searching product data poorly configured, hard to optimize
2 3 months 03/1999 - -
2 2 months 11/1999 customisable result page (no branding) reasonably quick no off-site indexing
2 - 06/2000 - -
1 6 years 07/2000 it's simple sometimes it lose the data
1 3 years 10/2000 instant indexing larger numbers of documents make it hard to tune the index
1 2 years 10/1999 Very Little Very awkward to configure. Does not include many features that we would like
1 1 year 02/1999 managing frame any classification about pages
1 6 months 06/1999 It retrieves the correct documents Very difficult to configure, documentation is very poor.
1 6 months 01/1999 pulls out any reference to query words in search. offers links to page as well as summary doesn't have any summary info on search result page, slow, often pulls older articles over more recent, pulls out any reference to query words in search. In members only section, search function adds abstracts, but includes the hidden java script instead of the document abstract.
1 2 months 03/2000 Response time Doesn't find all word documents (.doc)
- 2 years 01/1999 automatic updates, support for multiple formats, integrated management of index, ability to customize the search and output only works on local server (no spiders/robots)
- - 04/1999 haven't been able to check it webmaster turned it off; probably because it is suspected that it has impeded server performance


FrontPage WAIS Search Engine

Early web search engine not updated recently.
rating how long date reported What about this search tool works well? Any problems or issues with this search tool?
Average rating: 1.42, Number of responses: 12
3 5 months 02/1999 - searches only the entire intranet. Need one that searches only certain folders or files.
2 1 year 10/1999 Fast retrieval Maintenance; basic problems retrieving information due to bad indexing; number of hits indicated doesn't match number of docs retrieved
2 3-6 months 05/2000 Fast, easy to use, easy to set up Doesn't handle single character querry strings. Uni-lingual (language depends on language of FP2000 installed.) Doesn't search for super-strings (ie: Searching for "env" won't find "envy".
2 1 Month 09/1999 It searches I need to limit searches to particular directories (movie listings).
1 1.5 years 04/2000 - -
1 1.5 years 02/1999 fast, simple not powerfull enough (file formats, possibilities in general, e.g. to define queries at a given time oder e-mail results of queries on a regular basis like in Hyper-G/Hyperwave)
1 1 year 10/2000 It is simple Does not provide any abstract information about documents.
1 1 year 03/2000 nothing! yes!
1 1 year 08/1999 It finds stuff Don't like the report generated--only brings user to page, not reference within page.
1 3 months 02/2000 Easy to implement Relevancy seems skewed
1 3 months 10/1999 free. sloppy results, no duplicate removal.
1 2 months 05/2000 it works lists everything at the site and I want soemthing a little more sophisticated that will allow th visitor to select specific areas and databases.

This survey is copyright © 1998-2003 by Search Tools Consulting, and all rights are reserved. The survey was designed, analyzed and reported by Avi Rappoport. Personal information in the survey will be kept private at all times. For reprint permissions or survey aggregate data purchase, please contact Search Tools Consulting.