InkBlot's Mess

Archive/Compression Study - Part 2

20 Dec 2012 6:34 pm

The second group, compressor/archivers released in 1992 or later, is largely formed of two groups, those created specifically for the Macintosh, and those using a form of the Zip format, with a couple less common compression schemes thrown in.

Tests were conducted on the same machine as the first group, though they were run natively rather than under Mini vMac (See my first post on the details The total application and mixed file sizes were larger, as the programs tested are generally more powerful. Additionally, a sound file compression test was performed. Sound files are generally very hard to compress, often more so than image files. However, MacRAR had a specific Multimedia Option I was eager to test, so I added this test to the list.

Though not a surprise, DropStuff 5.5 seemed to out-compress all competitors when using the Maximum Compression option. However, when adding the time factor, DropStuff is not quite the clear winner. The StuffIt format is obviously the standard on the MacOS, but I wonder if Compact Pro might not have been more prevalent if it had received an interface update and Macintosh Drag and Drop support. It is clearly faster than DropStuff, even when DropStuff used the Fast Compression option, and Compact Pro has an adequate compression rate. But, due to the standardization and acceptance of the StuffIt format, DropStuff is still the winner in this category.

If working with files destined for a Macintosh with a MC68000 or MC68020 processor, or an emulator of an equivalent machine, Compact Pro may be your best bet due to its speed. If you need to get your files to an Amiga or Amiga emulator, MacLHA should be your tool of choice.

As far as the various Zip format compressor/archivers are concerned, it is essentially a toss up. No single program stood out in performance. If one needs to use the Zip format, take your pick. It may come down to the user interface, options, or convenience (DropZip comes with StuffIt Deluxe 5.5 and later). Unfortunately, I must have misplaced ZipIt during the tests. My guess is its performance is about the same as those that were tested. The one thing ZipIt has that the other Zip programs lack is the capability to create self-extracting archives, which, surprisingly, work on the Macintosh.

The sound file compression test really pushed each of the programs. Compact Pro seemed to spit the file out as fast as possible once it recognized it as a sound file, applying no compression at all. I was pleasantly surprised by DropStuff. Using the Maximum Compression setting, it achieved almost a 25% size reduction.

Finally, I must say I am disappointed in MacRAR. I can recall a number of PC users, back in the day, raving over the RAR format. It is, in fact, a nice archiver/compressor format. However, MacRAR is not impressive. Even in the sound file test, where I thought MacRAR would really shine, it only achieved a 4-5% file size saving over most competitors. It may compress better with an increased library size - I left it at 256K, which was the default - but this will likely increase the compression time, which already was less than impressive, and it will definitely increase the memory requirements.

Next time, I will cover the compressors released in 1992 or later, the last section of this study.

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