Internet users waste about eight million hours a week searching for information they never find, according to research conducted by website FlickDotCom.

More than 40 percent of users polled complained they had trouble finding information on the internet, even though they claimed to know how to use a search engine.

The research was carried out in the run-up to the launch of FlickDotCom, a free national directory of brand names.

"The biggest problems with search engines is that they provide lists," said Elaine King, co-founder and marketing director of FlickDotCom. "We provide a directory with a comprehensive index."

The study revealed two out of three people give up searching because they can't find the websites they want. Most users gave up searching after just five minutes.

"Names are not conventional, so people don't automatically know the [web] address of the company they are looking for," said King. "The directory saves time speculating."

Other search engines are also improving services. "We have had very positive feedback from our engine," said a spokesperson at search portal AltaVista. "Obviously a correct name does make searching easier, but we provide a concise help section to guide users through. Plus, an advanced search section enables us to provide a very accurate search."