Installation takes only a few seconds. Just insert the CD and follow the instructions, and you're ready to go. When you launch the program, which resembles Windows Explorer, drag-and-drop convenience allows you to copy files into and out of a CuteZip file archive. But because CuteZip integrates so seamlessly with Windows Explorer, you can access most common archiving tasks there, such as creating a new archive or extracting the contents of an existing one, with a simple right-click of your mouse.
CuteZip has a tabbed interface that lets you open and work on multiple archives at the same time. A convenient file-compression history remembers the last four opened archives for quick access. CuteZip supports most major compression formats, including ZIP, CAB, GZIP, TAR, PAK, and PK3 and decompression for ACE, ARJ, and RAR. It also supports self-extracting files so that users without CuteZip can uncompress documents no matter what format they are using. Like PKZip, CuteZip also allows command line archiving.
Going above and beyond your ordinary zip utility, CuteZip lets you slice up large archives, and it automatically requests new discs when one is full. With its sophisticated encryption feature, CuteZip can either encrypt archives in the widely used PKZip-compatible format (165-bit DES encryption) or use more secure 128-bit Twofish encryption. Ordinarily, a greater number of bits leads to stronger encryption, however, Twofish is harder to crack by design and works on more hardware platforms than DES.
CuteZip performed admirably in our compression tests. We tested CuteZip's four levels of compression on a 900MHz Pentium III system with 256MB of RAM, running Windows XP. While comparing the different compression levels, we found that overall, the differences in archive sizes were small compared to the difference in time it took to compress the files.
To illustrate: Using its fastest and lowest compression level, CuteZip archived a 55MB file in a blazing 10 seconds (down to 19.2MB) and a 1GB file in less than 6 minutes (down to 536MB). This is significantly faster than PKZip 5.0 Professional, which took 20 seconds to compress a 55MB file into 18MB archive and 7 minutes to zip a 1GB file into a 523MB archive.
Documentation and support
CuteZip offers a built-in help system and extensive online documentation, both of which thoroughly explain most functions of the program. You can also turn to the searchable knowledge base at the Globalscape Web site, although the information there is almost the same as that in the online manual.
As for live technical support, you can get it for free via e-mail, but it lasts only 60 days after purchase. If you need telephone support or more technical support after the first two months, you'll have to pay. Globalscape offers a flat rate of $25 per phone call. Luckily, CuteZip is intuitive to use, and it worked flawlessly in our tests, so you'll probably get by without phone-based technical support.
Overall, CuteZip has a simple and easy interface and all the standard features you would expect from an archiving program, including multiple levels of compression, self-extracting files, Windows shell integration, disk spanning, and even advanced encryption. If you need an affordable and secure way to compress your data, CuteZip is an excellent choice.