What ever happened to .SIT?

With the increasing use of ZIP compression on the Macintosh, the Stuffit or .SIT format has fallen into relative obscurity. But not only is it still around, its publishers claim it’s “the ultimate in compression.” Five to ten years ago, lots of computer products were promoted as “the ultimate.” But when the next revision is the new “ultimate,” and so is the one after that, the claim starts to look ridiculous, and most advertisers have dropped it.

Stuffit’s compression is, according to most studies, about as good as competing technologies. It has no claim on being “the ultimate.” Its ad in the MacConnection catalogue says that “Stuffit Deluxe(R) 2009 can compress files up to 98% of their original size.” This is a nicely ambiguous claim; does that mean that the compressed file is reduced by 98%, or that it’s 98% of its original size? The latter isn’t hard to achieve at all, and hardly worth bragging about. But it’s extremely rare that Stuffit, or any other compression, can reduce a file to 2% of its original size. Perhaps a file of all 1’s would get 98% reduction, but that’s seldom useful.

Stuffit once had the advantage of recognizing the two-fork file format of the Macintosh Classic OS. But now that virtually everyone has gone to OS X, which doesn’t use dual file forks, it’s just one more compression format.

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