Even though hard drives consistently get bigger, storage is not infinite. Even if you have a 500 GB drive, you may need to compress a file to email it, store it on a USB drive, or fit it onto a CD-ROM or DVD. Data compression is a great way to save space, and StuffIt Deluxe is a compression tool that lets you easily and quickly compress your files.
Price to Value (5 out of 5)
StuffIt Deluxe is priced in line with its competition. StuffIt is $50, with WinZip Pro at the same price and PKZIP and SecureZIP at a little less at $30.
Installation & Setup (5 out of 5)
The product installation is a standard Windows install and pretty straightforward. At install completion, you enter the product key number and then your contact information to register the software. There are a number of different compression file types you can assign to open with StuffIt. [See images 1-4, which you will find on the next page.]
User Interface (4 out of 5)
The interface is straightforward. [See Image 5] Most activities can be executed via the Start, Manage Archives, Search, New, or Open tabs. Clicking each tab brings up a different screen, at which point the next steps are intuitive.
If you use file manager, files can easily be compressed using the right mouse button. [See Images 15-17] Using a wizard makes the compression process seamless. A few clicks, add the files, and then you are done. [See Images 18-20]
Product Features (5 out of 5)
StuffIt Deluxe is packed with nearly every conceivable compression feature you can think of. The full set of features is at https://www.stuffit.com/win/deluxe.
One of the handiest feature is a time-saving one: its built-in ability to burn CDs and DVDs. With a single click, you can both compress files and burn the archive directly from StuffIt. Using a wizard, you can easily copy the archive to a CD or DVD. This saves time, as you don’t have to use an additional burning program. Similarly, it always has a one-click option to compress and send the archive as an email attachment, and to connect to a FTP server.
Other cool feature is the auto-backup scheduling capability. You can schedule backups to run at any time; configure it once and StuffIt take care of the rest. The program sends a confirmation or failure message once the task completes. [See Images 6-9]
The area of digital photos is another where disk space is quickly consumed. StuffIt can be used to manage your digital photo album and compress all of the photos into StuffIt archives. Even though they are archived, the program can give you thumbnails and expanded previews of the pictures without the need to first expand the archive.
The program supports over 25 archive formats. Formats include ZIP, RAR, BIN, UUE, CAB, and many other obscure ones. The pop-up menu makes it easy to choose a format. [See Image 10] Most of the time, you can use the default settings of the program. But as your archiving requirements get more sophisticated, you may need to change the options. The principal settings are compression method, compression level, and encryption method. [See Image 11]
Performance (5 out of 5)
Compression is inherently a disk- and CPU-intensive effort. The good news is that StuffIt Deluxe is optimized for multi-core speed and can take advantage of current dual- and quad-core processors to deliver fast performance when creating and opening archives.
From a competitive perspective, the two other popular compression programs are WinZip and PKZIP. As part of this review, I tested nine different file types for each program’s capabilities. From a compression perspective, they all compressed to the same degree, with about a two to three percent differential, which is largely insignificant. Of the nine file types, PKZIP was best on four, WinZip on three, and StuffIt on two. But with differentials of two to three percent, this is insignificant from a performance perspective.
StuffIt Deluxe also has a new file format called SITX. This format is based on Aladdin’s ATOM compression technology. StuffIt X makes archives with a .sitx file extension. According to the vendor documentation, when you create archives using the StuffIt X file format, you will see up to a 20 percent improvement over the existing StuffIt (.sit) format, and up to a 40 percent improvement over ZIP (.zip). By default, StuffIt Deluxe is configured to use the older StuffIt format (.sit) when creating archives. Testing the SITX format on the nine files has better compression in most cases. But for the plain text, it was actually larger.
After a question to technical support, the reason SITX is sometimes larger is that the ZIP and SITX formats have different methods for compressing different types of data. Each is better at certain things and not as good at others, though SITX should be better overall.
StuffIt 12 for the Mac has recompression technology that allows StuffIt to do a much better job of compressing some kinds of pre-compressed files (that is, PDF, MP3, and several image formats). These features will be added to StuffIt 12 for Windows, which should be out early in 2008.
Security & Privacy (5 out of 5)
StuffIt supports strong encryption, with different encryption options, depending on whether you’re using the .sitx or .zip archive formats. For ZIP, it uses the same encryption options that other ZIP compression/decrompression applications use, in order to maintain cross-compatibility. ZIP archives can include the older standard 64-bit encryption or the newer 256-bit AES encryption. With StuffItX archives, you have your choice of DES 64-bit, AES 256-bit, Blowfish 448-bit, or RC4 512-bit encryption options. [See Image 12]
DES 64-bit should be avoided, given that it can be easily broken.
Help & Support (5 out of 5)
The StuffIt program has pretty good help. The F1 help provides you with about all the main information you need about how to use the program. [See Image 13] The online FAQ has numerous questions that will likely provide you with what you need to know. [See Image 14]
In the event you need to contact technical support, questions can be summited via the support web page. Once submitted, you get a confirmation email. StuffIt stated that they attempt to reply to all technical questions in one to two business days.
I was quite impressed with the quick response times I found with technical support. I submitted a ticket at 11:11 p.m. on a Tuesday night and received an answer the following morning at 10:47 a.m., which is quick and responsive. The next day I submitted a tech support question 11:32 a.m. and received a response in under 30 minutes.
The main interface could use some cleaning up to make it a bit more intuitive.
StuffIt Deluxe 11.0 is the Swiss Army knife of data compression. It has a huge amount of power and functionality. If data compression is a large part (or even a small part) of what you do, StuffIt is definitely the compression tool of choice.
WinZip, PKZIP, SecureZIP, ByteShift, CVista