StuffIt Deluxe 8.5 for Windows is an updated version of Aladdin's full-featured archiving and compression program. In addition to the most popular compression formats, it includes a unique format called StuffIt X (SITX) that compresses files smaller and faster than the ZIP format. And with its encryption options and impressive scheduling and automation features, StuffIt Deluxe 8.5 is a good choice for a complete archiving solution for PC users who also work with compressed files from Mac users. Unfortunately, unless the people you exchange files with also use StuffIt 8.5, they won't be able to take advantage of this improvement. We also found the latest versions of and to be easier to use. StuffIt Deluxe installs easily with no restart required. Like PKZip and WinZip, StuffIt Deluxe integrates with Windows Explorer by adding right-click options for archiving, encrypting, compressing, and e-mailing and for creating self-extracting files. Unlike WinZip and PKZip, StuffIt Deluxe also integrates with Microsoft Office 2003, adding an option to "Save as compressed file" to the File menu within Word, Excel, and Outlook. StuffIt Deluxe's interface also supports drag and drop and the ability to view file archives as a detailed list or as icons.
StuffIt Deluxe's start page, however, is not well designed. Brightly colored icons for wizards in one column and tools in another create the sense you are using a suite of unrelated apps, with duplicate access provided by the toolbar and the drop-down menus. We prefer the no-nonsense, holistic approach found in the WinZip and PKZip interfaces, where toolbars and drop-down menus suffice.
StuffIt Deluxe also comes with StuffIt SEA builder, which creates a file that automatically decompresses a compressed file when clicked, and StuffIt Express, a powerful scripting tool. StuffIt Express lets you create folders; copy, move, and rename files; and e-mail and FTP from within StuffIt Deluxe. The easy-to-use StuffIt Express interface makes it child's play to automate common file-transfer and compression tasks. These tools can all be accessed from the start page. StuffIt Deluxe 8.5 for Windows includes all the features a complete archiving solution should have and then some. New in version 8.5 is the ability to schedule automatic backups using StuffIt compression. StuffIt also integrates with Microsoft Office 2003 and can create a searchable index of files saved to CD or DVD media.
The StuffIt-specific SITX compression format can compress files much smaller than can zip programs. In our tests, we logged file savings of approximately 20 percent on 50MB files and nearly 35 percent on much larger 1GB compressions. This means that if you regularly compress large amounts of data, you'll see some real savings in storage or file-transfer costs and times.
SITX also offers support for a unique redundancy option, a powerful error-correction setting that repairs corrupted or incomplete archives. Of course, you'll sacrifice some of the file-size savings of SITX to get this peace of mind. Also, like most competing archiving programs, StuffIt now includes several strong security options, including Blowfish, AES, DES, and 512-bit RC4 encryption, for compressed files.
And like other compression apps, StuffIt Deluxe integrates tightly with e-mail programs, providing one-click access to a Compress And Mail command from within the Windows right-click menu. StuffIt also has built-in FTP capability, making it very easy to move your compressed files around the Internet.
A handy catalog feature automatically scans your system, as well as any connected network drives, for compressed files and creates a single listing of them. This eliminates the time wasted searching for where you stuck that missing ZIP file you downloaded the other day.
StuffIt Express provides a way to automate all of the standard archiving and file-transfer functions, and it can be used to create detailed and complex backup schemes. Plus, power users can access StuffIt from external batch scripts or the Windows command line using StuffIt's command-line utilities. StuffIt's integrated help system does a good job of explaining how to use the program. Aladdin also provides an online FAQ, which is helpful for troubleshooting.
If your question isn't answered by the in-system help file or the online FAQ, you can e-mail technical support directly. Although you'll have to navigate through many pages on the support site to find the e-mail form, the tech team at StuffIt was quick to respond once we submitted a question.