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Published in TidBITS 29.
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DiskDoubler Makes Good

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Here's an interesting phenomenon. Remember the hullabaloo about keeping public archives in public formats? Most people were talking about how wonderful Compactor and StuffIt Deluxe were, with an occasional mention of Diamond as well. DiskDoubler was mentioned a couple of times, but was never included as a serious contender to StuffIt Deluxe, which has history behind it, and Compactor, which is the shareware challenger.

Well it turns out that DiskDoubler hasn't been doing all that badly after all. It has simply found a subtle niche that the other two compression utilities don't really fill - personal compression and archiving. The most common use of compression utilities up to now has been to related to telecommunications - to reduce transmission time and limit use of expensive storage space. Some people used StuffIt (because that's all there was back then and it was good) to manage archives of programs and files, but StuffIt really wasn't very good at that despite all the little add-on programs Ray Lau created for it. No one would have called StuffIt transparent.

That's where DiskDoubler comes into play. It is ideal for managing hard disk space. I have a 105 meg drive that is constantly filling up, just as my previous 30 meg drive did. Now, however, before I throw something out, I look around for something I seldom use and compress it using DiskDoubler. If I want to use a it, DiskDoubler quickly expands it, and, keeping track of it when I'm done, recompresses it to save my disk space again. DiskDoubler usually manages about 50% compression in my experience, and it allows me to avoid throwing stuff out randomly. It doesn't prevent me from doing housekeeping on my drive, but at least I can schedule it for when I have time. One drawback to my compression habits is that MacTools Backup considers all the files that I've compressed to be new versions and backs them up again. Oh well, win some, lose some.

I thought until recently that DiskDoubler was losing out in the compression wars because it didn't seem to be the telecommunications compressor of choice. However, I just heard that DiskDoubler is doing surprisingly well, and in some interesting places other than the world of telecommunications. According to Computer Currents, DiskDoubler ranked 5th of all of MacConnection's sales in terms of units sold for the first week of November. I'm glad they rated it in terms of units sold; a lot of those sorts of statistics are done in terms of total dollar sales, which immediately removes reasonably priced utility software from the ratings because utility software can't hope to compete with high-priced word processors and spreadsheets like Word and Excel.

I've also heard from Salient that they have a new version, called DiskDoubler Plus, only for people doing JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group - finally found out what the acronym stood for) compression with C-Cube's Compression Master board. DiskDoubler Plus has extensions to handle 24-bit color and will be bundled with the C-Cube board. I hope Apple's forthcoming video compression hardware/software (perhaps to appear in March) is as transparent. And no, we don't know anything more about Apple's stuff short of a positive report from Pythaeus. Of course, Apple might do something similar considering that they just purchased a worldwide site license for DiskDoubler from Salient. I wonder how much a worldwide site license runs.

Salient -- 415/852-9567

Information from:
Adam C. Engst -- TidBITS Editor
Lloyd Chambers
-- LChambers @ AOL
-- Salient @ AppleLink


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