On my System 7.1 SE/30, Stuffit Expander 4.x is faster than 5.x. But I've found some files that need Stuffit Expander 5.x. So......
.....Thanks to tips from the Vintage Macs and Classic Macs mail lists, it IS possible to use Stuffit Expander 5 with System 7.1. However, you can not use the installer to install it (you'll get an error saying that you need System 7.1.1 or higher).
My solution: Get a System 7.5.3 boot disk, use Disk Copy 4.2 to make a working 1.4 MB boot disk, and boot your Mac with the bootdisk. Now that you're running System 7.5.3, you can install Stuffit Expander onto your HD - I have done this with Stuffit Expander 5.5 and it works. If you want, you can also use Apple's System 7.5 Network Access Disk and Disk Copy 4.2
If you don't really want to boot off a floppy disk, here's another procedure that
was provided by Steve Strahm:
1 Download Apple's 7.5 Network Access disk file.
2 Mount the image on the desktop with ShrinkWrap 2.1, using disk not-locked option.
3 Open the mounted floppy and rename the System Folder to be System Folder75 .
4 Rename the HD System Folder to be System Folder71.
5 Copy the System Folder75 from NAD to the HD.
6 Open the System Folder71 and move the Finder into the extensions folder.
7 Reboot, run the Expander 5 installer.
8 Open the System Folder75 and move the Finder into the extensions folder.
9 Open the System Folder71 and move the Finder out of the extensions folder.
Or even snazzier, install System Switcher 1.1, and delete steps #6, 8, and 9.
(As a side note, Macs running Apple's 32-bit Enabler can run Expander 5 to unstuff files without crashing. But you would need to decode any binhex files with Expander 4.x. before using Expander 5.x - what a pain.)
If you want to use any other version Stuffit Expander 5 or higher, however, you will need to use the System 7.5.3 bootdisk method (described above) to install it.
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