This is a high-level overview of how Blob works. You don’t really need to know all this to use it, but its nice to know a little more about an app you might use every day.
Blob is a meta-data indexer
At its heart, Blob is an indexer and indexing is central to how Blob works. Just like Google and Bing crawl & index (i.e. make an inventory of) websites, Blob crawls and indexes your personal digital content. Blob indexes major content types and storage locations. It stores this index information in encrypted files on your computer’s hard drive only. Nothing is ever sent to Datamaton’s servers – you don’t even have a create an account with us.
More specifically, Blob is a metadata indexer. “Metadata” is information about your content (not the content itself). For example, metadata information for a photo file includes it’s file name, extension, creation & modification dates, thumbnail, photo EXIF data and the GPS location where the picture was taken (if it was taken with a phone). The indexing process does not affect your content in any way – it stays at its original location and retains its original attributes. For example, an email will not be marked as “read” simply because Blob has indexed it.
For each type of content, Blob collects metadata that makes sense for that type of content. “Compound files” (ZIP/ISO/gz etc. files) and emails with attachments have other files embedded inside them. For them, Blob collects information about the parent file/email as well as the embedded files. Thus, a Blob search based on a file’s properties will also find embedded files. You don’t need to remember that a file is an attachment and search for the parent to find it. The reverse is also true – if you are looking for a parent email but only remember something about its attachment, you can find the email based on the attachment’s properties (e.g. find the email that has a photo attachment with the the word “cat” in its file name).
- For all files: Blob indexes the file and folder name, file extension, size, creation & last modification dates and file attributes.
- Photo, music and video files: Blob collects album name, title, artist, genre, composer, play duration, camera used etc.
- Emails: Blob collects sender and receiver info, email subject, date, size and email folder name. It also collects emails attributes like read/unread, forwarded, replied etc. and (partial) email content. If the email has attachments, Blob will collect information about them too (the same information it would collect if the file were not an attachment).
- Social media posts: Blob collects the poster’s, likers’ and commenters’ names, date, number of likes & comments and attributes. Note however that social media providers like Facebook and Google+ now significantly restrict the amount of information they allow apps to collect, so Blob can only index your own posts, comments, likes etc – not that of your friends.
- Appointments: Blob collects appointment start & end times, subject, description, location and category when it indexes calendar accounts.
- Contacts: Blob saves the contact name, email address, phone numbers and attributes. It automatically picks up contact names and email addresses from email messages. Thus, it will auto-complete an email address it saw in your Google mail account even when you send an email from your Microsoft email account.
Blob supports content based searches too, not just metadata based searches. For this, it depends on the Data Source provider. For example, to search your computer’s hard disk, Blob will use the content index created by Windows Search.
Blob is a multi-dimensional aggregator
Blob’s objective is to “simplify your digital life”, not just “find your content quickly”. While Blob is an indexer like Google and Bing, it is also much more – it is a multi-dimensional aggregator. It aggregates:
- Different content types: files, emails, text messages, social media posts/comments, appointments and contacts.
- Different storage locations: local computer drives, phones, USB/network drives, CDs, DVDs as well as remote email, cloud storage, social media and calendar accounts.
- Different usage models: search, organize, manage and day-to-day use of all your digital content.
This frees you up from having to use vendor-specific tools to access each of your data storage locations. You don’t have to log into each account individually or plug in a physical CD/DVD/USB device to read & manage its contents.
Blob is a suite of applications
Blob is actually a collection of many different processes and libraries.
Blob.exe is the user interface (UI) process and the program that you generally interact with to view your content, run searches and set up tasks. But it is important to note that this program does not do the actual indexing, running backup tasks etc. That’s done by other processes, so you can safely close the Blob user interface anytime without affecting incremental indexing and backup tasks.
Blob.exe displays content by reading the index files stored on your computer. If you double-click on a remote file, email etc., Blob will first check if it is locally cached on your computer (so you might be able to view it even if you are offline). If not, it will fetch it from the remote location to display it. The Blob cache is managed transparently and the background process SpaceMgr.exe will run periodically to delete temporary or cached files created by Blob to limit your disk space usage.
Many processes shown in the picture above run in the background as needed to keep the index files up to date. FileMonitor.exe supports instantaneous content updates for your local computer hard drive. ImapMonitor.exe does the same for email accounts. Cataloger.exe indexes most other Data Sources. Interaction with an individual storage location is managed by its corresponding DLL library file (e.g. GMail.dll deals with Google Mail interaction, OneDrive.dll manages Microsoft OneDrive interaction etc.). Refresher.exe watches for and manages indexing of dynamically added devices like phones and USB drives. TaskManager.exe runs the backup tasks you create. Since background processes manage content indexing and backup tasks, you can safely close the Blob UI (Blob.exe) any time without any impact.
Blob.exe starts other processes shown in the picture above when you invoke specific functionality. For example you can ask it to manage & update your installation by clicking on the “Help” button (the “?” icon) followed by the “About” and “Manage Installation” menu options. When you do that, Blob will start the installation manager BlobInstallManager.exe. It starts Dashboard.exe when you click on “Help” and “Dashboard” to show you currently running background processes. If you click on “Help” and “Password” to set or change the password used to encrypt your index files, Blob will start Recrypter.exe to handle this. When you select a storage location, right-click on it and click on “Check For Content Updates”, it will start Cataloger.exe to incrementally index it.
Again, you really don’t need to know how Blob works at this level of detail to use it. In fact, you should work only with the Blob UI (Blob.exe) and not try to directly start any other Blob process. They are intended to be invoked automatically as needed by Blob.exe.