Most web workers have have stories of struggling to send large files around to their geographically-dispersed project team with the inevitable choking of network bandwidth. Even while online collaboration tools like SharePoint are used in many organizations, it’s almost impossible to escape emailing large Microsoft Office documents to co-workers and clients.
Recently, Balesio introduced FILEminimizer Office, a shareware Outlook add-in promising a staggering — and, frankly, hard to believe — “up to 98 percent” file compression solution, including embedded objects and pictures, with no need for unzipping software or proprietary tools. While many web workers may still use the venerable WinZip to compress files before emailing them, or use web apps like YouSendIt and DropBox to host their files, FILEmininimizer Office might offer an easy to use, integrated solution. But does it achieve that lofty claim of 98 percent compression?
Put simply, no it doesn’t. In my first test, I tried to compress an 8.46 MB Word 2003 file; I was not able to enjoy the supposed 98 percent file compression. In fact, I was not able to compress this file at all. When I tried using WinZip, I was able to shrink the file down to 6.43 MB. In my next test, I tried to compress a 4.95 MB Word 2003 file. FILEMinimizer Office only compressed the file down to 4.47 MB. While my testing is hardly scientific, I think the claims of “up to 98 percent compression” probably only apply to very specific — and probably not real world — use cases.
While I was disappointed with my testing, FILEminimizer Office does have some strengths worthy of note, including a well-developed user interface. It also maintains the Microsoft Office file integrity, so recipients can open up a compressed file just as they would any other Office file, without needing to download any other software.
As a long-time WinZip user, I find myself compressing files less and less as time goes on, for a variety of reasons including the emergence of mature graphic formats like .png and .jpg which keep my document file sizes down; more client projects revolving around SharePoint as a collaboration platform; and a massive increase in available bandwidth. Lastly, at least in my market, large technical documents don’t seem to be as common as they once were, though I am sure, the emailing of large Microsoft Office documents (10 MB+) is still alive and well in many organizations.
FILEminimizer Office is available for download from the Balesio web site. It allows you twelve free compressions before you have to purchase a license. I recommend testing it out to see if your compression testing fares better than my own. It costs $49.95 for a single license, with multiple user licenses available.
Are you still working with large Microsoft Office documents? How do you send them to your co-workers?