WinZip 10.0 Pro

Reviewed by: Paul Schneider, Ph.D., December 2005
Published by: WinZip Computing
Requires: Windows 98, Me, 2000, NT 4.0 or XP and Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002 or 2003
MSRP: $49.95

WinZip marches forward with the release of version 10. After years of being the de facto standard for Zip compression technologies on the Windows platform, WinZip hits a number of firsts this time with the addition of a professional version and a new compression technology that promises, yes, smaller files. At Kickstartnews we previously reviewed WinZip 8.1, WinZip 9.0, and WinZip Companion for Outlook, so rather than delve into all the details about WinZip’s plethora of features or its easy-to-use Wizard and Classic interfaces, in this review I'm focusing strictly on what’s new and why you might want to upgrade or add this program to your hard drive.

One the first things you'll notice, perhaps more from the product advertising than anything else, are the two new compression technologies, bzip2 and PPMd. Both technologies must be specifically selected when creating a Zip file. Given that bzip2 is currently only supported in WinZip 9.0 and 10.0 and PPMd only in WinZip 10.0, this is quite appropriate. However, the makers of WinZip are making a concerted effort to promote PPMd to the larger compression community with their publication of the full specifications for the technology. Okay, so this is new technology, but how well does it perform you ask? Although by no means a complete test, I used four different large file sets to help compare the normal Zip format to the two new formats.

The first set was comprised of a number of text, DOC, and XLS files. Here's the performance comparison:

  • Source file set: 34MB of text, Word and Excel files
    Normal ZIP: 10.875MB
    bzip2: 9.952MB
    PPMd: 9.328MB

Next up was a series of images, both raw Nikon format and high res JPEG:

  • Source file set: 190.949MB uncompressed digital images in RAW and JPEG format
    Normal ZIP: 187.306MB
    bzip2: 183.832MB
    PPMd: 181.879MB

None of them compressed the JPEG files. The RAW files received some minor compression.

Next up, music files in Windows WAV format:

  • Source file set: 3.44GB uncompressed WAV files
    Normal ZIP: 3.13GB
    bzip2: 2.82GB
    PPMd: 2.80GB

For my final test I compressed a collection of video files:

  • Source file set: 2.30GB MPEG files
    Normal ZIP: 2.275GB
    bzip2: 2.267GB
    PPMd: 2.241GB

In almost all cases PPMd improved overall normal compression anywhere from 2% to 10%—nothing to sneeze at!

The next thing I noticed was an interface change. While the overall interface is quite familiar, there is a new button labeled View Style which allows you to switch from the traditional flat format to a Windows Explorer format which displays the folder structure within Zip files. I found this style particularly useful when unZipping or adding files to a Zip that resided in a specific subfolder. It's a welcome addition.

Another compelling new feature in the Pro version is the ability to compress a Zip directly to a CD or DVD, especially helpful for portability when you have to transport large amounts of data. In the past, you needed to create the Zip, and then copy it to your DVD or CD using appropriate software. WinZip 10.0 turns a two-step gig into a one-step jig. Using the “New file on a CD or DVD” option you can create a zip and then write it to the media in one step. The only drawback I found to this new feature was that it is limited to CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, and DVD+R formats. To use DVD+RW, you still have to do the two-step.

Writing to a CD or DVD is a nice option, especially if you are doing regular incremental data backups. Taking it a step further, the Pro version of WinZip adds a feature called Jobs which you can use to create and schedule automated tasks that will compress selected files, perform a series of tasks and store them in a desired location, and then repeat the process according to schedule. Yes, in essence, what you have is a mini backup tool. The Job feature sports a number of options including encryption, filters, multiple levels of compression, scheduling, generic folder names, appending of filenames, logs, and even the ability to automatically send files to a web server via FTP. There are a number of pre-defined jobs including My Desktop, My Favorites, My Email, and My Documents as well as one that covers the whole bunch. Using one of these predefined jobs you can back up all your data without even having to know where it is. The My Email job works only with Outlook or Outlook Express. If you're using a different e-mail program, you'll have to define your own job. In taking advantage of these jobs I found them very easy to use, full of data security warnings and pretty much what you would expect. The only problem I experienced was with large files and sleeping computers. Not surprisingly, some of these jobs may take a long time. If you are backing up to a resource that will power down to save energy, so you may want to adjust your settings to prevent a job from failing at some point in the process.

Those are the main changes to WinZip 10.0, but there are a few more odds and ends left in the stocking. File Splitting wasn't hard before, but from the new menu you can now split any existing file or split files automatically when creating a Zip, thus making another task one step instead of two. The new quick file selection tool will take the doldrums out of selecting specific files by allowing you to specify selections via wild cards. You have use of AES encryption to protect your data, automatic WinZip update checking, and an add-on for command line support (pro version only) that enables you to automate Zip via batch commands. WinZip 10.0 also provides support for the Windows XP Attachment Manager, a Windows XP utility that basically helps to control execution of undesirable attachments.

WinZip 10.0 represents one of the biggest changes to the program in some time. While the basic version offers some significant improvements, it is the Pro version that provides the biggest change. With the automated Jobs function and CD/DVD write, WinZip now facilitates simple backups of data in a way that was previously only possible through several extra steps or additional programs. Though I wish Santa had brought support for DVD+RW format, I think it will be a good Christmas this year, albeit a smaller one if PPMd has anything to say about it. Highly recommended.

Comments? Questions? Qualms? Technical problems? Send an e-mail!





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