Software

Review: FILEminimizer Suite

Image files can really inflate the size of an email, Web page, or a document; FILEoptimizer Suite makes it easy to reduce the size of these images.

FILEminimizer Suite is designed to help users squeeze their images to save on the file size. It integrates into Microsoft Office to optimize the sizes of the images in those files as well.

Note: This review was performed based on a not-for-resale, review copy of the software provided to TechRepublic by the manufacturer.

Specifications

  • Product: FILEminimizer Suite
  • Company: balesio AG
  • Requirements: Windows PC
  • Compatible files: PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Outlook, Lotus Notes, and JPG, TIF, BMP, GIF, EMF and PNG image files
  • Cost: $79.90 for single license, volume discounts from 2 licenses and up
  • Additional Information: Product Web site
  • TechRepublic Photo Gallery

Who's it for?

Users who work with large numbers of images but lack the know-how to perform image resizing and change the JPEG compression settings in a graphics application will be able to use FILEminimizer Suite to reduce the size of their image files and Office files with images in them. More sophisticated users will probably prefer the control that hand-editing provides unless working with a large number of files.

What problems does it solve?

Image files can really inflate the size of an email, Web page, or a document; FILEoptimizer Suite makes it easy to reduce the size of these images. While one can use a traditional image editor to tweak the image and reduce its size, many users lack the technical savvy or time to do this efficiently.

Standout features

  • High Compression Levels: If you really want to get your images small, this will do the trick. It does not really do any optimizations on Office files unless they have images in them.
  • Batch Mode: The batch mode is a useful feature if you have a large number of pictures to go through.

What's wrong?

  • Output quality: On the default settings, I found the output to be fairly lossy; dark text on light backgrounds had noticeable dithering and images would show pixilation when zoomed in. Colors became faded and dulled.
  • Cost: This is a fairly pricey product for what it does. The bulk discounts can bring the cost down significantly ($17.90/license in the 1,000 - 1,999 user range) but do you really need to deploy this functionality that widely?
  • Speed: On 4MB, high quality photos, optimization on standard settings took from 5 seconds to 20 seconds, on an Intel i7 920 with 12GB of RAM. With a custom setting, one of the test files took minutes to optimize.
  • Clunky Office Integration: When used from within some Office applications (notably Word and Excel) to optimize a file, it closes the Office file; it would have been nicer if the optimization did not require exiting the application.
  • Too much tweaking needed: If you want the best results, you need to use the custom settings.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

Overall, I was rather underwhelmed with this product. Given the $79.90 price tag (for a single license, discounts start at two licenses and can bring the price down to $17.90 per license), I expected something along the lines of, say, ThumbsPlus.

Instead, FILEminimizer Suite performs a basic resizing of the image to fit a few presets (you can turn off image resizing in the settings) and resaves the image as a JPEG with some compression. Along the way, pictures tend to lose a lot of their color saturation, become a bit pixilated, and text becomes dithered. You can minimize this by altering the settings, but if you need to constantly tweak the settings, you are better off using a photo application.

Even with the custom settings you are not in great shape; the screen sizes that you can optimize for omit many resolution like 1920 x 1080 which is rapidly gaining adoption, and there is no provision for entering a custom screen size.

I took a number of sample images, optimized them with FILEminimizer, and then performed a similar set of tasks in Paint.NET. Paint.NET consistently produced better images at the same file size as FILEminimizer, and in many cases, my manual manipulations took less time than using FILEminimzer. This is pretty disappointing.

My test was to open the image, resize it to what FILEminimizer resized it too, performed "Save As..." JPEG, and adjusted the compression slider until the estimated file size equaled what FILEminimizer had. In some instances, FILEminimizer spent well over a minute processing an image and Paint.NET did the exact same sequence with no noticeable processing time.

The interface is not so hot either. It is a bit confusing to perform tasks (after doing an optimization you need to click "Go Back" or "Open Files" to do more), and the UI has two or three buttons and menu choices to perform every single function of the application. When used from Word and Excel to optimize the file, the file is closed and then optimized, which is a bit annoying.

The application works as advertised, but it really needs some more polish to be useful. Regardless of its utility, I would imagine that anyone with piles of images to tweak would want the control of a real image editor, or have access to better tools to begin with. It is hard to see the typical business user having enough need for this kind of utility to justify spending money on it. The best use case that I can find is for someone who works with PowerPoint on a regular basis and uses a ton of images in their presentations.

User rating

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About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

1 comments
Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you spend much time managing file sizes as part of your overall storage management plan?

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