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Size Matters: Why Businesses Use The TIFF File Format

by | Oct 20, 2008

TIFF images are the popular choice among many business sending documents electronically. The reason: size. TIFF image files are, on average, two to three times smaller than PDFs, which means they can be sent faster, use less bandwidth,and take up less disk space so more of them can be stored on a single server. This makes them the perfect choice for businesses needing to cost effectively catalog thousands of electronic documents.

What’s Weighing Down PDFs?
Here are some of the factors that contribute to the large file sizes of PDF files:

  • Color
  • Form data
  • Embedded images
  • Embedded documents
  • Font
  • Compression

Due to the need for file viewers to handle all of the components of PDF files, PDF readers generally take longer to start up and load documents than TIFF readers.

Why TIFF is the Better Choice
This file format has been around since 1986 and has quickly become an industry standard. Part of this industry dominance is because viewers are often free of charge and there is no specific software is needed to view them. Also, back even a decade ago, PDFs were very expensive to produce and most scanners and digital cameras produced TIFF files by default. This put TIFF in the position to be the most standard file format. While consumers do not use TIFF as much because many of them send image and color heavy files best suited for PDF, businesses do not need this functionality for the majority of their transactions. Keeping files small and manageable is what makes TIFF the best choice for business.

TIFF in Action
Countrywide is a huge insurance company which receives PDFs of accident reports from its vendors. They have central processors processing documents from hundreds of venders sending in these forms. They convert all the PDFs to TIFF so documents being sent back and forth are roughly half the size of the original. They are not killing their networks with huge PDFs because the files are now lightweight, easier to transfer, and more controllable. While black and white is the most popular format there’s a lot of diversity in the TIFF family. There are formats like black and white, TIFF color, Tiff jpeg, etc. You’re able to store text and photos beyond just the original black and white, adding even more value to the TIFF format.

Final Thoughts
TIFF is far and away the best choice for businesses with large amounts of data and forms (e.g. insurance and mortgage companies) TIFF is historically a black and white file format, making it a good fit for sending things like checks, faxes, plain text documents, insurance forms, mortgage forms, etc. The bottom line: their small size saves business time and money by efficiently using both bandwidth and storage.