Microsoft

Review: WinZip file compression utility

Over the years Winzip has grown from a fairly simple product to one with a ton of features fulfilling a variety of compression and packaging needs.

WinZip is one of the oldest compressing applications with a GUI on the market. Over the years, it has grown from a fairly simple product to one with a ton of features under the surface to fill a variety of compression and packaging needs.

Specifications

WinZip

Who's it for?

Some people have file compression and packaging needs that go beyond the basic features found in Windows. Developers and systems administrators in particular can benefit from an application which goes beyond just making a ZIP file or extracting the contents. In addition, users who want to be able to encrypt their files in transit or who frequently deal with large files will appreciate an easier and more powerful application for file compression. WinZip also has a number of features for photo compression, which photography buff will want to check out.

What problems does it solve?

Windows comes with basic file compression capabilities, but that is all it can do on its own. WinZip adds functionality like easy compression right from Windows Explorer, encryption of files, alternative compression algorithms that save even more space, scheduled jobs, and so on.

Standout features

  • Clean interface: The WinZip UI is well designed, and allows you to handle the most common tasks easily while not making you work hard to find the advanced functionality.
  • Can split ZIP files: For a variety of reasons (spanning removable media, sending through email, and so on), one may be need to split a ZIP file into pieces and reconstruct it later. WinZip can handle this task quite well.
  • Advanced compression and encryption: WinZip can use a variety of compression algorithms (even within the same archive) to save additional space, and encryption algorithms to keep your data secure.

What's wrong?

  • Some features require WinZip to open the file: Using some of the alternative compression algorithms and encryption features require that WinZip also be used to open the file (as opposed to another utility or the operating system's native functionality) because they are not standard.
  • Cost: It can be hard to justify the license fee of WinZip for most users.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

WinZip fills a large gap in functionality, but it is a gap that most users are probably not aware of. For the users who need its advanced functionality, WinZip is a great application. Indeed, most users could probably make good use of its functionality (particularly the encryption, to ensure that sensitive data is not transmitted in the clear via email, FTP, etc.). When users take advantage of its functionality and spend some time making archives, they can not only save a lot of drive space, but also ensure the longevity of their data.

WinZip not only fulfills the obvious needs, but when you go digging through its feature list, you realize that it can scratch a lot of the itches that you have had for a while. For example, it can be used as an excellent backup application which does not require a special application to retrieve files from the backups.

Businesses will probably not need to purchase WinZip for every user, but they might want to make it available to users on an "as-needed" basis, so that those workers with the need for its advanced features can use them. If you want to make WinZip available to all of your users, it would probably be best to provide educational material on its uses, so that your users can take advantage of its functionality to the fullest.

User rating

Have you encountered or used WinZip? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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About Justin James

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

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