Search ninja part 2: How to find older versions of software (and much more)

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Google: You know what time it is! If you don’t, then you have yet to read the first part in this series. Why not go ahead and knock that out now if you haven’t?

Okay, I’m going to use Office 2003 as an example for what we’re searching for. That way, I can do a good job covering many of the bases I noted insofar as coming up with various data points to search for. So, to find Office 2003 using Google, here are the initial data sets I would choose to search for:

1 – Application Names: The product name (Office 2003) and nicknames (Office 2K3 and O2K3).

2 – Version Number: I’m just going to stick with “Office 2003” for the time being.

3 – Methods of Distribution: If quick searches based on the information above don’t pan out, then I plan to find out the exact file name for Office 2003 as it was distributed via MSDN (I already know it was an ISO file). Then, I can search for that file name exactly for what will most-likely be a non-tampered with version!

With those in mind, let’s pull up Google and try one of our trusty intitle:index.of searches to see what we find right off the bat: intitle:index.of “Office 2003”

When I do that search here, my first three results are rather interesting:

See the first result, where it says “This site may harm your computer.”? As a general rule of thumb, it’s indeed best to stay away from those sites. No worries here, though, because result 2 looks promising. I clicked on it and sure enough, lookie at what we have:

Most likely, our quest is done right there. But let’s assume that search didn’t do it. At that point, I think I’ll just try to look for the name of the Office 2003 ISO as it was distributed on MSDN. Let’s see what the following query yields for us: “Office 2003” MSDN ISO Name

Alright. When I get results like that, I like to look at the summary of each before clicking-through to anything. It usually takes a few seconds, tops, to look at all the summaries. Doing that, the 6th result down links to a page with the title “Office 2003 Collections Multilanguage – MSDN Untouched“. I decide to click on that one to see what information I find. Low and behold, that page yields not one, but TWO Office 2003 ISO file names:


Based on that, I now have some exact file names to search for. Let’s try the first one with an intitle:index.of search and see what happens: intitle:index.of “en_office_2003_pro.iso”

Looking at the results from that search, we find what we’re looking for (not to mention, even more than we bargained for as you look at the other files this person has in their index) from the result titled “Index.of /apps“. Now, what happens if we search for that file on FindFiles? Interestingly enough, it yields just one result — the same site we just found through Google!

Now, admittedly, Office 2003 is a pretty darn easy application to track down, what with how popular it is and what not. Even with that being the case, you would be surprised by how easy it is to track down even the most obscure of applications once you start learning how to take advantage of not just Google, but the other avenues provided on the previous page. And while I didn’t get in-depth at all with the Google searches in this post, there is much more yet we could have done — different paths we could have ended up down via alternate queries. My goal at this point is to leave it up to you to take everything you’ve learned from this post and apply it to something relevant — whether that’s you searching for old software or something completely unrelated.

Well, there you have it! While I certainly didn’t come close to covering every method of search or provide every site under the sun with which to find a older versions of software (or whatever else you’d like to find), the aforementioned is usually all I ever have to do to find exactly what I’m looking for. Some solutions take more time while others may require a few dollars. Either way, if it’s out there, it can be found. Stay tuned for part 3 where I get the really advanced querying back on-track and show you a side of Bing you undoubtedly have no clue about. If you think Google’s the only game in town where advanced querying yields rewarding results, think again!

Oh, and this time, it won’t be 6-months before the next post. I’ll have it written and posted by sometime in September at the very latest. In the mean time, please feel free to share some feedback. And if you have any questions, please ask away. Likewise, if you have any tips for other readers, tip away! Thanks for reading. 🙂

Stephen Chapman
SEO Whistleblower

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