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ATPM 10.11
November 2004



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Review: Stuffit Deluxe 9

by Andrew Kator,


Developer: Allume Systems

Price: $80; $30 (upgrade)

Requirements: Mac OS X 10.3

Recommended: G4 processor, Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X

Trial: available for StuffIt Standard

Almost anyone who has used a Mac in the past decade is familiar with StuffIt as a long-standing superior compression format and application. As Macs gradually joined the world of Unix systems and became even friendlier with PCs, Apple added simple Zip compression to the contextual menus in the Finder. Recently, I have found myself using the OS X-included Zip archive tool more frequently, even though the StuffIt formats are superior. I suspect there are many other OS X users that have followed similar practices.

In writing this review, I wanted to find out what StuffIt offers over the free Zip compression that makes it worth the price? Much to my surprise, I found many features in StuffIt Deluxe 9 that make it well worth the purchase, and worth the upgrade from previous versions of StuffIt Deluxe. For those who are unfamiliar with the offerings of previous versions of StuffIt Deluxe, check out the review of version 7.01 in the ATPM Archives.

Things have come a long way since the days when users needed to compress data to fit large files on removable media and save hard drive space, but compression is still very necessary for e-mail, Web sites, and Internet/network file transfers. Combine that with the massive amounts of downloadable content, multimedia, and general data we all accumulate on our hard drives and compression becomes even more necessary to backup onto CDs and DVDs. StuffIt Deluxe has adapted to our changing computer needs to offer new tools for common compression use.


There are several significant new features in StuffIt Deluxe 9 that make this a worthy upgrade. The first noteworthy improvements are compression speed and archive size. I tested the built-in OS X Zip archive compression against StuffIt Deluxe 7.03, 8.02, and the new 9.0, using a 119.3 MB folder containing a wide range of file types, including QuickTime movies, text documents, 3D models, databases, and various image formats. Except where noted, the default StuffIt settings were used. The system used for testing was a 1.25 GHz iMac G4.

Application Format Time Size (MB)
Mac OS X Finder .zip 1:56 85.6
Stuffit Deluxe 7.03 .sit 5:15 83.1
.sitx 3:23 84.7
Stuffit Deluxe 8.02 .sit 5:10 83.1
.sitx 2:48 85.4
Stuffit Deluxe 9 .sit 4:18 82.9
(default) .sitx 3:09 79.8
(faster) .sitx 1:25 84.6

Testing indicates an overall improvement in compression times and file sizes with each successive version of the software, with the most remarkable improvement being the .sitx compression time.

It should also be noted that StuffIt Deluxe 9 more accurately represents the time remaining for compression. The estimates in versions 7.03 and 8.02 were often off by several minutes, a problem resolved in 9.0.

StuffIt Deluxe 9 is multiprocessor aware, and should offer worthy speed increases to those with dual-processor Macs. Rudimentary testing indicates approximately 30% faster compression with dual-processor machines.

One new and remarkably useful feature is selective file expansion from archives…using Finder contextual menus! While previous versions offered compression tools within contextual menus, expanding certain files from within an archive required launching the StuffIt Deluxe application. Now all that is needed is to Control-click (or right-click) on an archive file, and a hierarchical list of archive contents appears for immediate expansion of specific files and folders. This timesaving feature is in itself one of the most useful additions to this upgrade.

Another major addition to 9 is the Archive Assistant, which offers automatic scheduled archiving and backup of specified data to either CD, DVD, or your hard drive. This is a useful tool for those using compressed archives for backup purposes.


The Archive Assistant interface is a little more difficult to use than expected, differing from several other backup applications that I have used. The software is straightforward after reading the included Help tools, which are definitely recommended for those intending to use the application.


The improved archive segmenting features were tested with a 19.8 GB data folder that was compressed to 10 GB using the .sitx format. This archive was then divided into two 4 GB and one 2 GB segments for DVD backup. The contents of the segments could be easily browsed without rejoining them, another useful improvement.

4 GB is the maximum segment size allowed, but unfortunately this was only discovered from testing. This setting is simply titled “Maximum Allowed” in segmenting options with no indication of the maximum value. It would be nice to have this setting more specifically labeled.

Other improvements worth mentioning are more encoding and security features (including a drag-and-drop Secure Delete application), a set of add-ons to integrate StuffIt with other applications, and a unified drag-and-drop application for all formats instead of the previous separate DropStuff, DropZip, and DropTar applications.

More so than in previous versions, StuffIt Deluxe 9 offers significant features that make it useful for those needing more archiving power than the built-in OS X tools, and the speed and feature improvements also make this a worthwhile upgrade.

For those considering whether to purchase StuffIt Standard or StuffIt Deluxe, the list of additional features (including those covered in this review) separate StuffIt Deluxe 9 from its siblings more so than in previous versions. StuffIt Deluxe 9 offers significant features that make it useful for those needing more archiving power than the built-in OS X tools, and the speed and feature improvements also make this a worthwhile upgrade.

Reader Comments (12)

Mark Tennent · November 3, 2004 - 10:59 EST #1
Hmmm. Let me think about this.

Stuffit 9 lets me compress large files 25 seconds faster and saves 1MB, when compared with the free built-in Zip compression.

Windows users can open my Zip archives but need the Stuffit Expander to open .sit files. On the other hand, my Mac sometimes has trouble when it receives .sitx files even though I keep Expander updated.

Apart from segmented archives, something I need less and less, Stuffit offers me nothing. I'll be glad when it finally expires and clears the decks for Zip.
Andrew Kator (ATPM Staff) · November 3, 2004 - 19:59 EST #2
I personally find the contextual menus features well worth the price. Not only is the OS X archive feature available, but any other format including sit, sitx, tar, tgz, etc. can all be compressed without launching separate software.

Better yet, individual files and folders can be extracted from an archive using contextual menus. Instead of expanding an entire archive, individual items can be extracted with only a control-click.
Mick Hamblen · November 4, 2004 - 00:37 EST #3
If it could huge files into RAR, PAR files I would be interested but I don't think it does. Ther is no rar file app for OS X and that sux....
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · November 4, 2004 - 00:58 EST #4
Mick - What actually sux is that someone would make such a claim without at least simply searching for the term "rar" on MacUpdate and VersionTracker.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · November 4, 2004 - 01:00 EST #5
DOH, and lest I myself make the mistake of not checking, it says right on Allume's web site that .rar is among the types of files that Stuffit Deluxe can both create and access.
Mike Thall · December 25, 2004 - 03:02 EST #6
The reviewer fails to mention that the so-called free expander cannot be downloaded independently of the entire trial package. After downloading just to decompress one .sit file, I uninstalled the whole package. Allume Systems have been too clever by half. One turkey at Thanksgiving is enough.
Andrew Rose · May 19, 2005 - 19:24 EST #7
I have to agree with Mike. It's a real shame the expander isn't offered free and independantly of the larger and costly program. It makes the format far less appealing, as it makes compressed files much harder to share.
R. Tay · June 18, 2005 - 23:18 EST #8
Very helpful comments. The review appearing in PC Today magazine is more of a puff piece, glossing over the bundled "free" download and advantages of Zip.
Jeff Clayton · September 11, 2005 - 15:50 EST #9
The free StuffIt Expander has long been a wedge to help sell the full product. Aladdin, and after that Allume, have not changed their policy on this in years. It was not such an issue before Apple decided to cut StuffIt Expander out of the Mac OS distribution.

Expander and the StuffIt Engine will still run without charge and with no expiration, although the other StuffIt components will nag relentlessly for payment if you launch them.

To their credit, Allume did make Expander 9 available alone (below most people's radar) because they recognized (duh) that abruptly dropping it was going to make trouble for large numbers of Apple customers.

I am surprised to see that the review ignored the most surprising new feature of StuffIt 9 -- its ability to further compress JPEG images. This actually works, and is no mean feat of software engineering, whether you think you need it or not.
michael sampson · January 8, 2006 - 01:16 EST #10
i give up...StuffIt 9 is too hard to use! I have tried for an hour to compress a quicktime movie without success, and the help files suk
Barry Jones · September 3, 2006 - 19:47 EST #11
StuffIt 9 works fine with small files and is easy to use. I've not had the same success with the large file format. Even using the segment option in .sitx, expansion generally fails.
Mick Hamblen was correct when stating that StuffIt cannot compress into .rar files, as I do not have this problem with large segmented files on the PC when using WinRAR.
Jeff · April 19, 2007 - 02:32 EST #12
Yeah the help files are absolutely shockingly bad

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