If you work from home, frequently use your mobile device for business, or often collaborate on files in your organization, you've probably had to endure the pain of uploading or downloading a massive PowerPoint to/from email or a hosted site. PowerPoint files are common offenders because they're filled with images and quirky graphics which often provide little value but take up a lot of space. As a journalist, I've felt the pangs of frustration from sifting through a massive PowerPoint file for basic information about a company or product.
With this frustration in mind, my interest was piqued when I heard about FILEminimizer. FILEminimizer promises to uber-compress your Microsoft Office files (my term, not the company's), to as much as 98 percent compression. FILEminimizer's other promise is that you'll have no compatibility issues and individuals receiving your files will need no programs to unzip the file. Files are simply compressed and saved in the native file format.
Well, the latter statement is certainly true. FILEminimizer doesn't 'zip' a file, it just compresses it in the same .doc, .xls, or.ppt format the file came in. So, the good news is that you don't have to unzip it—the bad news is that you can never 'resurrect' that file to its original quality. (Granted, it saves the compressed file as a new file, but if you were compressing a bunch of files and deleting the originals to save space, for instance, you'd be out of luck if you decided you needed them to be better quality.) See Figure 1 for an example of the FILEminimizer window with basic compression options.
As for the compression power of FILEminimizer? Testing a 7MB PowerPoint file, I was able to reduce the size from between 50–80 percent, depending on whether I used standard compression or strong compression. (See Figure 2 for the results of strong compression on the file.) Even at the higher compression levels, the quality of the images wasn't terrible (they started pretty high quality), so it was definitely fine for standard viewing. It wouldn't have looked too good blown up on a projector, though.
Regarding Word and Excel files, I should note that the compression only works for files that have images. So, most Excel files can't really be compressed at all. I took some Word documents that had just one image, such as a company logo at the top, and was able to compress these about 50–60 percent just by turning that image to blur. So, not bad if you want to cut out the fluff to send a smaller Word document.
My final test was to see if I could really get this rumored 98 percent compression. For this assignment, I grabbed a Word document, stuffed it with five or six high-quality images, and added a bit of text (and Word Art, to see what would happen to that). Then I set the compression level to custom, 1 percent .jpeg quality, 1 percent overall quality (the highest compression I could get).
The result? 98.5 percent compression (from over 1 MB to 16 KB). The images were all colored blurs, but the standard text and Word Art were completely unchanged.
Other Features and Functionality
FILEminimizer can also compress a number of files at the same time (only three for the trial version, but I don't believe there is a limit in the full version). You can, of course, modify some basic settings, such as to have the program overwrite your files with the compressed versions.
FILEminimizer is easy to use, as is expected. Simply browse for a file, pop it in, choose the destination, set your compression level, and watch it go. In the 30 minutes or so I spent playing with FILEminimizer, it did freeze once, and I'm not really sure why.
FILEminimizer comes in two products: Office and Server. Office costs $44.95 for one license, $39.95 for 2–9 licenses, and goes down from there, all the way to $12.95 per license for 1,000-2,000. Server costs $1,999 for one server, and goes down a bit per server from there.
Super-compression is There, But Limitations Concerning
While FILEminimizer can definitely super-compress some files, it has many limitations. Most significantly, the product only works with Microsoft Office, so you'll need an alternative solution in addition to FILEminimizer for other files. Also, $25–45 per machine for a small- to medium-sized business seems a bit expensive to me, given how specialized the product is.
But, despite all this, FILEminimizer offers the best compression I have ever seen for Microsoft Office files. If your company's need is significant enough, it could definitely be worth it.
For a free trial of FILEminimizer, visit the company's website.