StuffIt Deluxe 7, by Aladdin Systems
Posted: 26-Mar-2003

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Aladdin Systems Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Robert Schumann Class: UTILITY

Introduction
StuffIt Deluxe 7 is a complete file archiving and compression utility for the Macintosh. It supports the most common compression and encoding formats for Macintosh, Windows, and UNIX platforms. The new StuffIt X file format improves compression and adds security and safety options.

This software was reviewed on a Power Macintosh G4 Quicksilver 867 MHz with 1.125 GB of RAM running Mac OS X 10.2.4 and Mac OS 9.2.2.

New Features
Besides the new StuffIt X file format, StuffIt Deluxe 7 has other notable new features:

  • Strong encryption to protect sensitive data - StuffIt X adds 512 bit encryption (previously 40 bit) which makes sensitive data more secure.
  • Prevention of data loss with error correction - StuffIt can add error correction information to archives to repair and reconstruct files that become damaged by bad media or transfer errors. (This will result in a larger compressed archive size).
  • Improved compression - Aladdin claims up to 30% better.
  • Larger archive sizes - Previous StuffIt versions had a 2 GB archive size maximum, now archives can allow terabytes of data.
  • Long File name support - Use up to 256 characters, the OS X limit.
  • Microsoft integration - Compress and email from Microsoft Word 2001 and X.
  • Full file support for Zip archives- Full support for browsing and editing Zip archives, including copying data between .Sit, .Sitx and .Zip archives.
  • Stuff and Mail additions - Supports Entourage and Apple Mail email clients.
  • Magic Menu browsing - Search through StuffIt and Zip archives with Magic Menu.
  • New OS X Finder support - Use keyboard shortcuts to Stuff (Command S) or Unstuff (Command U) files.
  • OS X command line tools - Access to terminal functions and options.
  • StuffIt Helper - (Mac OS Classic only) StuffIt Helper background application frees up the Finder so users can continue work on other files while compressing. The Helper application launches at start up as part of the True Finder Integration Control Panel to allow access to those functions.


User Interface
Below is a screen-shot of the Stuffit Deluxe interface under OS X. The interface for the OS 8.6/9 version is basically identical. The StuffIt toolbar can be oriented horizontally as shown or vertically and can be anchored to the top to the screen or can float. You can also use smaller icons if screen real estate is a premium.

StuffIt Deluxe supports Drag and Drop. To added files to the archive, you can drag files to the archive window. To exact files from the archive you can drag files from the window. There is also a set of Drag and Drop applications that perform one function. These include StuffIt Expander, DropStuff, DropTar, DropZip, DropConvert, DropSegment, and Secure Delete. StuffIt Expander is probably the application that you will use the most since it is used in conjunction with a Web Browser to decode and expand downloaded files. Aladdin also offers StuffIt Expander as freeware for those that do not need the compression features.


New in StuffIt Deluxe 7 are command line tools for those that want that flexibility. These tools can be accessed from the OS X Terminal window.

Compatibility
StuffIt Deluxe 7 supports most of the commonly used compression and archive format on the most popular platforms. These include Tar and Gzip for UNIX and Zip for Windows. Also supported are MacBinary, BinHex, UUEncode, and AppleSingle encoding.

Microsoft Word Integration is included with a StuffIt Add-in. The appropriate Add-In is installed in the Office/Startup/Word folder for either Word 2001 or Word X. The new StuffIt commands will then be available in the File menu.

Usability
The majority of use for this review was done under OS X. However, under Mac OS Classic (9.2.2), a problem with the StuffIt Helper background application was observed. One of the True Finder Integration features that only the Classic version has is the ability to compress and decompress by adding or deleting the .sit or .zip suffix (Archive Via Rename). When I tried this, it worked the first time when I added .sit to a folder but the Helper application quit for an unknown reason and adding the extension did nothing thereafter. The Magic Menu and the contextual menu no longer worked either. A restart was required and then everything worked as it should and I had no further problems. Previous versions of StuffIt Deluxe allowed you to open a StuffIt archive in a Finder window via the StuffIt Browser. If you had a previous version, the StuffIt Browser is not deleted when version 7 is installed. It will still work but will not browse .sitx or .zip files. Aladdin recommends you remove StuffIt Browser and use the StuffIt Deluxe application instead.

Under OS X Finder, the Magic Menu (located on the menu bar) and StuffIt Contextual Menu (accessed by control-clicking) worked well for quickly archiving or expanding and I saw little need for compressing via adding a suffix. I do wish you could select the StuffIt or StuffIt X format from the menu instead of having to change it via the Preferences.

I found a bug in StuffIt Deluxe when a StuffIt X archive is open and you want to "Save A Copy As". If you click the options and turn on encryption, it shows "128-bit" not the advertised 512-bit. This may be just a typo. However, when you save it, a prompt for a password never appears so the archive is not password protected. When I opened a StuffIt X archive that was password protected and tried to save it as a non-encrypted archive, the application unexpectedly quit.

One interesting application that comes with the package is StuffIt Express Personal Edition. For example, with Stuffit Express, you can create a Drop Box application that will compress and upload files to a FTP site by just dropping the files on top of the Drop Box. When I first launched StuffIt Express, it complained that the proper files were not installed and in fact when I searched for those files, the previous versions files were in my user area while the new ones were in the general areas. I copied the new versions over to my user area and no more complaints so there is a problem with the StuffIt Deluxe installation script at least under OS X. I created a Stuff and FTP upload Drop Box and a FTP upload Drop Box for my personal website and both worked perfectly.

The biggest difference between version 6.5 and 7 is the new StuffIt X format, the Magic Menu now works under OS X Jaguar, Microsoft Word integration, and OS X command line tools. If you can live without these, you may want to wait to upgrade at the next version.

The table below shows the compression results for creating different archives supported by StuffIt Deluxe. The original folder, Web Pages, contained HTML code and GIF images. Be aware that even though some archive formats seemed to compress more than the StuffIt archives, the Mac information such as icons and relative positions inside the folders is lost. In this example, the StuffIt X archive is about 15% smaller than the StuffIt archive.

Name Kind Size (KB)
Web Pages Folder 516
Web Pages.sit StuffIt Archive 156
Web Pages.sitx StuffIt X Archive 132
Web Pages_redun.sitx StuffIt X Archive with redundancy 260
Web Pages.sea StuffIt Self-Extracting Archive 304
Web Pages.zip Zip Archive 120
Web Pages.exe Zip Self-Extracting Archive 216
Web Pages.tar TAR Archive 236
Web Pages.tar.gz Gzip Compressed TAR Archive 112
Web Pages.tar.Z UNIX Compressed TAR Archive 168
Web Pages.tar.bz2 Bzip Compressed TAR Archive 108

Support
If you download the program from Aladdin as I did, the StuffIt Deluxe User's Guide PDF file is included. It is a fairly complete user's guide and I found answers to all my questions in it. Additionally, there is an iSupport menu in StuffIt Deluxe that will connect you to the Internet to check for updates, register the software, and product support.

Summary

StuffIt Deluxe 7 is the standard for Mac file compression and archiving. For many people, StuffIt Expander may meet their needs if expanding downloaded files is their main concern. But if your archiving and compression needs are more demanding and you want a full-featured package, this is the one utility suite to have.

Pros

  • Versions for Mac OS Classic and OS X
  • Easy to use interface
  • Solid performance
  • Excellent compatibility with popular formats
  • StuffIt Deluxe Users Guide PDF file included

Cons

  • Worth of upgrade from 6.5 version questionable
  • Sometimes unpredictable under OS 9 using StuffIt Helper
  • StuffIt Deluxe "Save A Copy As" does not encrypt properly


Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 Mice