PDF iFilters – Which Is Right For You?

I’ve written about iFilters a little beforeAs defined by Wikipedia,

IFilters are plugins that allow the Windows Indexing Service and the newer Windows Desktop Search to index different various file formats so that they become searchable. Without an appropriate IFilter, contents of a file cannot be indexed.

Surprisingly, for a long time the only 64 bit PDF iFilter which was available was from an outfit called Foxit Software rather than Adobe.  However, last December, Adobe released their own version.

Both do the trick, of course, but your mileage may vary.  Jie Li did a performance comparison between the two (Deb Haldar did the same for the 32 bit versions earlier) and found that the Foxit iFilter was about 5x faster than the Adobe version with his set of PDF documents.  The Foxit iFilter now costs about $329 per dual core server, while the Adobe one is free.  So you should consider what your environment contains and what you’d like to spend.

I would suggest trying both iFilters in a test environment that has a corpus of documents similar to your production environment (an exact copy would be best) and see which works better for you, then decide.  Different document contents, a mix of languages, etc. can change the performance profiles of indexing, so you’d make a better decision based on testing with your own content.

Be sure to follow the installation instructions from start to finish, as there are a few “manual” steps required to update the registry on the server, register the document icon, and such, depending on which iFilter you choose.

iFilters for SharePoint Search

Once you have your SharePoint server up and running and begin to build up a corpus of content, you may find that certain documents aren’t turning up in searches.  This may be due to not having the appropriate iFilters installed.  From the Wikipedia entry:

IFilters are plugins that allow the Windows Indexing Service and the newer Windows Desktop Search to index different various file formats so that they become searchable. Without an appropriate IFilter, contents of a file cannot be indexed.

Here are a few important ones.  If your organization uses a particular type of file frequently, make sure to look into the iFilter for it.  The Wikipedia article above has links to many free and for-pay iFilters.  Note that there may be different versions of iFilters for 32-bit vs. 64-bit operating systems, different file versions, etc., so be sure to get the right ones for your needs.

2007 Office System Converter: Microsoft Filter Pack – This download will install and register IFilters with the Windows Indexing Service. These IFilters are used by Microsoft Search products to index the contents of specific document formats. This Filter Pack includes IFilters for the following formats: .docx, .docm, .pptx, .pptm, .xlsx, .xlsm, .xlsb, .zip, .one, .vdx, .vsd, .vss, .vst, .vdx, .vsx, and .vtx.

Adobe PDF IFilter v6.0 or Adobe PDF iFilter 9 for 64-bit platforms – Adobe® PDF iFilter is designed for end users or administrators who wish to index Adobe PDF documents using Microsoft indexing clients. This allows the user to easily search for text within Adobe PDF documents.