File compression allows for faster data transfer
Files that are prepared to be downloaded are often compressed, using a utility program that creates a smaller version of the file. Through the process of compression, a file is changed from its original format to that of the compressed version, meaning that it has been compacted to allow for easier transfer. The two most common forms of compression are ZIP (zipped files) and BinHex (stuffed files). Both methods employ utility applications that will save files with a new file extension while compacting them to reduce their size. Once a file is compressed, it can can be quickly transferred over e-mail, Usenet, FTP and the World Wide Web.
Zipped files (Zip) must be unzipped to restore the original file
Zip is a popular standard for file compression on the Windows platform. Once compressed, these files will have the .zip file extension. After downloading a Zip file, it is necessary to run an unzip program in order to return the file to a usable format. Many programs are available to unzip files, including WinZip or PKUNZIP. These utilities are available for free from www.shareware.com.
Stuffed files (BinHex) must be unstuffed to return the file to its original format
The BinHex compression process converts binary files into ASCII (text) so they can be safely transferred. BinHex compression was specifically designed for the forked file structure of the Macintosh platform, but there is also a version available for Windows. A stuffed file may have a .hqx, .sea.hqx, .sit or .bin file extension. After a stuffed file has been downloaded, it must be unstuffed using a program called StuffIt Expander. StuffIt Expander is a simple application for decoding many kinds of encoded, compressed, and archived files.
How to deal with Zipped MacBinary files on a Macintosh
Occasionally, files may be downloaded that are in both MacBinary format and Zipped. Two steps must be followed in order to uncompress these files. First, they will need to be run through an UnZip utility. After they have been unzipped, run them through StuffIt Expander to convert the files from BinHex to binary.
Note: Many browsers will automatically uncompress downloaded files, as long as StuffIt Expander has been installed on the system. Other applications, such as Eudora and Fetch, may be able to decode files even if StuffIt Expander is not installed.