Is TIFF good enough?

by Thomas Zellmann, Sales Manager

is-tiff-good-enough

If you’re still archiving documents using TIFF, read this

Time was, TIFF was considered a great format for archiving. After all, it’s a ‘de facto’ or often used format and can offer quality when saved as very large digital master files with either no compression or lossless compression. Which is why many companies have used TIFF for scanning and archiving – and continue to do so. But for several reasons, TIFF is not always the best way to go.

In today’s business environment, TIFF has a number of drawbacks:

  1. TIFF is a dated format. In fact, the last TIFF specification was 6.0 in 1992. That means it hasn’t had an update in more than two decades. That’s pretty much forever in terms of technology. TIFF was a good choice back in the 1980s and 1990s when hardware was slow and memory was tight. But nowadays, TIFF is simply not state-of-the-art.
  1. TIFF is pretty much black-and-white only for documents. If you have documents in which color is an integral part of what you’re communicating – say, charts or diagrams where data is organized with color coding – you’re going to lose your ability to quickly communicate your data with a black-and-white TIFF file. Or you’re going to have to save a really large TIFF file to retain color.
  1. TIFF isn’t searchable in and of itself. It was created expressly to store images, not text.
  1. TIFF is a de-facto standard, but not an ISO standard. That means it’s become a standard due to its popular usage. ISO International Standards, on the other hand, ensure that products are safe, reliable, and good quality. Adhering to ISO standards is good for your business. It helps lower costs by reducing waste and errors, and increases productivity.
  1. TIFF doesn’t offer much compression choice. You’ve got LZW and that’s it. Because TIFF images compressed with LZW require more processing to open and close, that adds time, which adds up when many files are accessed in a larger archive.
  1. There’s no longer any TIFF viewer in Windows because Microsoft discontinued support for the TIFF format with Office 2010. TIFF files will open by default in Windows Photo Viewer which means you can view them but can’t do much with them.
  1. There are many variations of TIFF that don’t all work equally well because it doesn’t adhere to ISO standards.

What’s more, in order to make TIFF searchable, users may create private tags for TIFF files. Those tags may work within your own company but that’s no guarantee they’ll work outside, such as when you’re exchanging documents with business partners.

The better alternative—not surprisingly, it’s PDF

PDF is a modern format that’s been regularly updated. It’s an ISO standard that conforms to guidelines for usability and view-ability. It’s built to work hand-in-glove with OCR and color compression. PDF/A is specifically geared for long-term archiving. The list of benefits goes on.

And if you’re ready to modernize your company’s scanning process and move beyond TIFF, check out Foxit’s complete set of PDF solutions. These products can help you convert TIFF to PDF or convert existing TIFF archives to PDF and make those valuable business documents searchable, more usable, and better for archiving.


8 thoughts on “Is TIFF good enough?

  1. Craig Schwandt

    Hi, in general I agree with the information presented here. I tried it out and was impressed. However, although the “reconstruction” of an image by exporting it from pdf back to an image file format is very good, the pixel resolution was not reproduced by the export process and so the new image file was more pixelated than the original tiff file. There are some instances for regulatory agencies where the original data need to be preserved as is, and in many cases that is as a tiff file. In general great job with the exporting algorithm though, many other products are not as good.

    Reply
    1. FOXITBLOG Post author

      Thank you for the feedback , you should be able to improve the image quality if you select the settings button.This will allow you to improve the quality of the conversion.

      Reply
  2. Kevin

    I have heard that a TIFF file cannot be modified whereas a PDF can. So for storing legal documents they can only be stored as a TIFF. Is this true?

    Reply
  3. Wayland Sothcott

    The fact that TIFF spec has remained the same for over two decades is an advantage for long term storage.
    That PDF is state of the art is a disadvantage.
    PDF has been around a long time which is an advantage you did not mention.
    PDF being OCR compatible and searchable are advantages.

    Reply

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