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Author Topic: Re: New Review (09/05/05) - Best Archive Tool  (Read 28061 times)
JeffK
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« on: September 05, 2005, 04:51:41 PM »

mouser, other than Zaine who were the main contributors to this review.

Jeff
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2005, 07:10:12 PM »

Thanks Zaine,

My only comment is on StuffIt. You say it has good MS Office support. I haven't used the latest version but in the last three versions they have had MS Office support and it has at best been flaky.

It looks good on the surface but in each of the three previous versions I disabled it after giving it a go as it caused so many headaches in Office - particularly other macros.

The only reason I used it was because I needed SIT file support, but I won't be upgrading from now on (and probably won't bother installing it in the future as the need for SIT support these days is marginal).

WinZip have lost one customer. I have had WinZip installed for the last 5 years but I won't be upgrading again!

WinRAR is definitely the way to go for me - and it isn't just that lifetime free upgrades (er ... didn't WinZip promise that when you registered), but is is a lot slicker and comes as a complete set of tools.
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mouser
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2005, 09:29:24 PM »

jibz and i helped with the most minor of editing and proofreading, but really this monster of a review was, believe it or not, all done by Zaine.

It's actually the longest review on the site (and as you know that's saying quite a bit) - and a huge amount of love and care and work went into it.  I can't tell you how much we appreciate Zaine agreeing to do this review, and how thrilled we are with the result.

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zridling
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2005, 10:20:30 PM »

Sorry to hear of your experience with StuffIt's MS Office integration. It worked fine for me, but this version inserted both a toolbar (on its own row every time) and created its own menu. For me, that was too much, but someone must have liked it. But it reminded me of the old Microsoft trick of tossing in features that almost no one uses, and telling everyone that they've made over 300 improvements! Oy.
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« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2005, 01:11:17 AM »

Zaine, your review was absolutely stunning.  I feel safe in saying that it is the highest quality and most comprehensive comparative review I have ever read on the Internet (and nearly all of the other good examples are here on DC).

I don't think I have anything to add or disagree with on the review itself as the testing methods, background info, range of products tested and conclusions were all spot on IMHO.

Thanks for the considerable hard work and my thanks also to mouser and Jibz for their input into this monster.
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Designated "proofreading free" zone.
nudone
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« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2005, 03:09:49 AM »

that has to be the Daddy of all reviews, Zaine.

i learned the hard way how long such things take to do (about 10 times longer than you first believe) so i can appreciate the time and effort involved that you've had to put in to it - it looks like you did enjoy doing it, though.

i think everyone here was expecting something exceptional from you and so it is.

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rjbull
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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2005, 04:48:12 AM »

Mouser,

Where's the review gone?  I'm getting 404s.
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mouser
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« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2005, 04:55:36 AM »

i uploaded the wrong file about an hour ago, and only disovered it about 20 min ago.
can you check again now, everything should be fine now, assuming the caches arent causing trouble.
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rjbull
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« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2005, 05:10:39 AM »

Might just be caches, but still 404 Sad

When I click the link, I get a page that lists all the reviews.  There should be a graphic, but that's just a box withan X in it, too.
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mouser
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« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2005, 05:11:11 AM »

damn it wtf.
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mouser
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« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2005, 05:15:36 AM »

can you try again?
try ctrl+alt+shift reload button, or whatever that combo is.
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rjbull
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« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2005, 05:24:03 AM »

Yes, there now, thanks.  Must have been caches.  On this version of IE (5) reload button is F5, "Refresh."  At least I think that's what it means...
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rjbull
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2005, 06:05:16 AM »

Zaine,

Are you aware of Jeff Gilchrist's compression tests
http://compression.ca
The Archive Comparison Test (ACT) is a set of benchmarks designed to show the state of the art in lossless data compression. It contains benchmarks on various types of data for compression speed, uncompression speed, and compression ratio.

Rather out of date as he's working on his thesis, but interesting.

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Darwin
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« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2005, 11:44:15 AM »

I'd second what Carol (and Zaine) have to say about StuffIt and Office integration - it quite often "breaks" Outlook and is a PIA in its habit of insisting on opening a toolbar on a separate row. This was the case in version 8 and in the latest version, 9. For those of us who like to customise and set our toolbars this is unacceptable.

OT but why hasn't Microsoft given users of Office 2003 (which I've just upgraded to) the option to lock their toolbars?
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"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin
Carol Haynes
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2005, 12:31:41 PM »

I'd guess locking toolbars is a bit difficult when they are generated by third party products. Adobe Acrobat is notorious for cocking up other toolbars (at least it does in version 5), and the macros that generate StuffIt 8 and 9 toolbars are generated on the fly when the program starts up - which is why the position is not retained.
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mouser
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« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2005, 12:43:06 PM »

ive seen that toolbar opening on its own row before with powerpoint addins and it is so damn annoying.
why is it always microsoft apps that have trouble behaving well on their own operating system!
i mean sure, they are 3rd party addins but its MS responsibility to make a sensible plugin system that wouldnt be prone to this.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2005, 12:57:59 PM »

Trouble is programmers can take shortcuts, and do. I think this is one area where MS can't be blamed really (there aren't many times I'd say that). Actuallythere must be times where being able to generate custom toolbars on the fly would be useful.
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mouser
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« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2005, 01:05:49 PM »

well construct them on the fly fine, but have a way to let them dock into the pre-existing toolbar instead of taking up a row of their own.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2005, 01:28:30 PM »

There is a way to do that - it isn't MS's fault if developers can't be bothered!

I have toolbars in MS Word, Excel and Outlook all of which are able to retain their correct position each time the app starts.

For me it is one criteria to decide whether to use a piece of software. If developers can't get that right what chance have they got of writing software that behaves properly in other respects ?
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mouser
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« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2005, 01:31:15 PM »

good point.
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Fulcrum2000
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« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2005, 03:42:08 PM »

Congratulations for this great review!. But I miss two vital pieces of information; the version number for each program tested, and maybe even more important the switches/settings used. They greatly influence speed and compression ratio.

It seems you used an older version for WinRK as they were quite buggy... If you really want to find out the best possible compression use WinRK in PWCM-mode. The complete test will take about 55-60 hours on your PC, but at least you know where the current compression limit is.  Wink

For people looking for the best possible compression (not user friendliness / speed) have a look at my Maximum Compression website found here : http://maximumcompression.com/ it features 'all' top compressors including experimental ones like PAQAR and Durilca. Compression ratio is what counts here...


BTW I think I agree with the three winners you choose (not really sure about TugZip).
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mouser
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« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2005, 03:52:47 PM »

wow that's a fantastic page fulcrum! - i'm going to add a link to it from the archive tool review sidebar right now.

you're right, we need to start adding version #s to programs that are mentioned in our reviews - sometimes we forget that the review lives on past the day it was posted smiley

56 hours hehehehehe.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2005, 03:54:35 PM by mouser » Logged
Fulcrum2000
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« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2005, 04:11:29 PM »

wow that's a fantastic page fulcrum! - i'm going to add a link to it from the archive tool review sidebar right now.

you're right, we need to start adding version #s to programs that are mentioned in our reviews - sometimes we forget that the review lives on past the day it was posted smiley

56 hours hehehehehe.

Thanks for adding the site!. And yes version numbers would be nice (are you also thinking about releasing the switches/options used in the test?).

You really did the WinRK - PWCM thing???.   thumbs up
May I ask which 'Relative Compression Ratio' it would score?. (I asume you let it use the dictionary and at least 500 Mb mem to play with)
« Last Edit: September 06, 2005, 04:14:39 PM by Fulcrum2000 » Logged
mouser
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« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2005, 04:27:06 PM »

i was just laughing at the idea of running at 56 hour compression test.  now if i really could have run it between the time of your two posts i would have a time warp machine, and if i had that.. i wouldnt be admiting it smiley

(actually i have run experiments on my other computer that have run for 3 months at 100% cpu, but that's another story)

actually i didn't write the review, zaine did, he should be back online soon.
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zridling
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« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2005, 10:15:47 PM »

Thanks for the kind words, guys, I really appreciate it!

Fulcrum, you make some good points. I did not include version numbers because I felt they are constantly changing anyway. For example, seven of the apps were updated, and five of the 14 apps were upgraded in the past month, and in the last two days as I was finishing, WinZip released its Pro 10 beta. It turned out to be a timely review.

I did, however, use the latest version of WinRK, and the only reason I included it on the site was because of its excellent compression rate, of which I found at the site you listed, Maximumcompression.com. I also kept downloading the testing each program's latest release throughout the review. Version info could be easily added, but I made the decision to say "as of Fall 2005" and let readers review each program's history file to see what version was out in August/Sept 2005.

Early on, I found lots of resources at Maximumcompression.com, and RJ, I did study Jeff Gilchrist's excellent studies so I'd know what to expect, but spending too much time there was distracting me from the real purpose of the review, which was to find the best archive program, not necessarily the best compression ratio. The latter was only one factor considered, albeit an essential one. The second reason is that I've no expertise with compression algorithms, and could not write intelligently about them without spending an extra month or longer researching for just that part of the review.

As you may have noticed, the section on 7z, RAR, and PPMd formats is cursory at best. Thus the resource links to compression sites listed in the left panel of the review. When you dive deep into the content of those sites, you're quickly impressed with the work those authors have done. There was no way I could replicate such exact tests, and as mentioned above, it was beyond the scope of this review.

Finally, you make another important point on settings within each program. The only tweaks I made regarded compression levels — Normal, Fast, Max (some list it Ultra or SuperFast or Best) and nothing else for each program. I started flirting with dictionary sizes, but there was no way to standardize these settings across all the archivers tested because most did not allow users to change those settings. So I merely left them at the default settings and just changed compression levels for each format when archiving my test file.

My goal was to take each program and try to get the fastest archive I could, despite compression ratio, and then reverse that and get the best compression ratio I could, no matter the time. When you look at that comparative Excel grid, you'll see the fastest time I could get using any compression level for each app, and then the smallest compression ratio I could. Those two numbers are independent, not linked to each other. There was a direct correlation between ratio and time — the more you demanded from one, the less you received from the other, proving the saying: you don't get something for nothing.

Thanks for the feedback! I'm grateful for it.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2005, 10:43:06 PM by zridling » Logged

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