Digital photography has gone mainstream and with it has come a steady increase in image size and the resulting larger file sizes. This means the nation's hard drives are straining under the weight of large image collections. This can also cause problems when trying to send even a small number of files across the Internet to family members.

Cutting the overall size of the image down is the most obvious solution but it also cuts down on quality. BluBox is a compression utility that can condense even the largest of image files down to only a couple of hundred kilobytes in size.

The interface is easy to get to grips with and while there is a fair degree of documentation that comes with the software, it’s not really necessary as we found it relatively intuitive to use.

What it allows you to do is store the compressed files on your PC, so freeing up space, so you can then backup the full-blown versions to disc for archiving.

Rather like a .zip file, which is a format it also supports, BluBox compresses your files into its own file extension, in this case .blu and the only problem we found with the software was the lack of support for wider formats.

Still, the results were impress as we found we could compress an 8 megapixel file down to as little as 250KB. You can set the level of compression and if you’re worried about the overall quality, then we’d suggest not making it too small.

That said, our test files looked exactly the same once we’d blown them back to full size, which definitely proves the software works.

Compressed images can be viewed on your own PC without having to blow them back up to their full size. We didn’t see any real slow down in system speeds viewing images this way, which shows the system really works.

If you do wish to send compressed images to family members they’ll need to have software that supports the compressed image. However, this is available free of charge from the website in the form of the BluBox Viewer.

Perhaps one of the most convenient uses for BluBox is when it comes to uploading images to the net, as the smaller file sizes can make it far easier to use site such as Flickr. If you want to add a layer of security to the process, it comes with 256-bit AES password protection, so images can be encrypted and locked away.

Price when reviewed:

If you have a large digital image collection and limited space, BluBox is a great tool that works quickly and effortlessly to tame even the largest of files. It won’t change the way you collect but it’ll make cataloguing your images easier.