Five years is half an eternity in computer years. It seems like only yesterday that Mac users were all using Stuffit to store, archive, and send files to others.
Does anyone still use Stuffit, now at version 13? Mac OS X ushered in a generation of Unix zip capability, and archiving took a new direction. Disk images are all the rage these days.
What of Stuffit? It’s alive and presumably well and version 13 has more features than ever. The question for Mac users (and Windows PC users), is, do you need Stuffit when zip archiving and disk images are free and easy?
Stuffit is owned by Smith Micro these days, and seems to have a new version every six months to a year. There’s still a Stuffit Deluxe, the full version with all the bells and whistles.
Stuffit Standard costs less and comes with fewer bells, and less whistles. The Stuffit Expander, Mac or PC, is still free. It’s a one trick pony that simply unstuffs whatever Stuffit file you’ve received.
Zip archiving took off on Windows PCs back in the 1990s, and Stuffit was the file archive and compress tool of choice for most Mac users.
When was the last time you had to unstuff a Stuffit file? That says something about the times and how things change in the computer industry.
OS X was launched with a built-in zip archive utility which made it easy to zip up, compress, store and send a bunch of files between Mac users on OS X, and even PC users.
Stuffit adjusted to the times and added unzip capability to the growing stack of bells (or, is it whistles?). To be fair, though, Stuffit does much more today.
In addition to archiving files, which simply collects a bunch of files and folders and stores them in a single file, Stuffit compresses, too. Even already compressed files such as JPEG images and MP3 music files can be compressed again, saving more space, speeding up file transfers.
Beyond that Stuffit also offers encryption security, password protection, back up utilities, and self healing capabilities to protect against data corruption. Some files can be compressed, squeezed by nearly 98-percent.
Stuffit also archives files direct to DVDs and CDs, and can be used to span multiple disks in case you have a lot of files to store.
Archives can also be made to self extract for Mac or PC users who don’t have Stuffit Expander on their computers. Once you stuff a bunch of files into an archive you no longer need to open it again to see what’s inside.
The Spotlight and Quick Look plugins take advantage of OS X’s ability to see what’s inside a file without opening the file in a different application.
Remarkably, Stuffit does a lot of what most of use need to have done. It compresses files, archives many files in single file, adds encryption and data protection, comes with password support, and has automated back up routines to ensure quick and easy duplication.
What’s not to like?
The problem, of course, is that times change. Hard disks are huge and cheap. Back up of important files is often handled by cloning your Mac’s files to an extra hard disk or using Apple’s Time Machine.
The question is simple. Do Mac (or Windows PC) users need a utility like Stuffit when archive and disk images are free, and back up is unattended and easy?
The answer is a qualified “maybe.” For four or five years I’ve downloaded only disk images or zip archive files. No Stuffit files in sight. Why? What used to be a common functional requirement has been made nearly obsolete by large hard disks, and built in utilities.
For organizations with specific requirements, such as security and auto archiving, Stuffit may continue to provide a solution for years, but what was commonplace has now become a niche, with a dwindling number of users, even as Mac market share explodes.
Do you archive? If so, how so? Zip? Stuffit? Disk image? Or, a simple file transfer from one hard disk or Mac to another? Share you experience in the Comments section below.