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PKWare PKZip for Windows 8.0 review: PKWare PKZip for Windows 8.0

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The Good Redesigned user interface; powerful encryption and digital signing features.

The Bad Status indicators for encryption and digital signing could be clearer.

The Bottom Line PKZip 8.0 offers a wide range of encryption features and an easy-to-use interface, making it a friendly application for small-business users.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.6 Overall
  • Setup 9
  • Features 8
  • Support 8

Review Sections

summary

PKWare PKZip for Windows 8.0 may not be quite as familiar or intuitive as WinZip 9.0, but it can handle all your archiving needs with ease, and it includes a few more encryption tricks than the competition does. The basic version of PKZip 8.0 for Windows costs less than WinZip, and for a few dollars more, you can get an enhanced version of PKZip that includes e-mail integration and allows you to configure Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes to automatically zip up attachments. PKZip for Windows 8.0 is a solid investment for small businesses, thanks to its cross-platform compression compatibility, centralized administrative control, and advanced encryption features. Home users, who won't need so many features, will be better off with WinZip. It's easy to install PKZip for Windows 8.0. Click the 8.4MB installer file, agree to the license terms, and you'll soon be zipping away. Like WinZip 9.0, PKZip for Windows 8.0 adds an icon to your desktop and three new options to your right-click menu for easy access to zipping and unzipping files.

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PKZip for Windows 8.0's wizard makes creating archives easy.

Once installed, if you want it to, PKZip for Windows 8.0 can automatically associate itself with any existing ZIP archives on your system. Manually, by either right-clicking the files you wish to zip or launching the wizard from the main program interface, you can create new ZIP file archives. The PKZip for Windows 8.0 Wizard feature helps new users master the basic functions of creating, updating, or extracting a ZIP archive within minutes, and the app also offers options to customize its interface. For example, you can change the screen layout--the toolbar selection, for example--by using the View pull-down menu, or you can customize the toolbar from the Tools menu.

There's also a digital-signature feature that allows recipients to verify that you sent them an e-mail message. To use PKZip's digital-signature feature, however, you'll first need to obtain your own digital certificate. If you're considering signing your electronic documents, a link under the Help menu takes you to a page on PKWare's site with more information and links to digital certificate providers. PKZip for Windows 8.0's new interface is a significant improvement over previous versions and puts all of its features right at your fingertips. In addition to the normal extracting and archiving capabilities you'd expect from any ZIP program, PKZip for Windows 8.0 offers password-based strong encryption using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) powered by RSA Bsafe encryption software from RSA Security. It also offers integration with popular e-mail and antivirus programs so that you can create, antivirus-check, and send a ZIP archive from within Microsoft Outlook.

PKZip for Windows 8.0 also includes many configuration options, including a centralized administrative control module. Using these centralized controls, a network administrator can lock down program options for encryption, digital signing, and zipping of e-mail attachments so that individual users on a network cannot change them. For example, the terms of a legal contract in the Microsoft Word format could be sent without individuals being able to modify the contents of that file.

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PKZip for Windows 8.0 offers a wide range of configuration options

One nice touch in this version of PKZip is its ability to encrypt files with a single click. The filename-encryption option, available by right-clicking, also protects your filenames from snoopers. You can even encrypt files already in an archive--nice.

One complaint: We found the toggle keys for turning on and off encryption and signing confusing. It wasn't easy to tell what state they were in from their subtle graphic indication, and the pull-down menu option didn't make it obvious, either. We wish PKZip hadn't opted for a fancy icon rather than the traditional check mark. PKZip for Windows 8.0's improved integrated help system now provides informative and easy-to-follow help screens. There's also a QuickStart Tutorial that walks you through all basic archiving concepts.

In the unlikely event that the PKZip Help file isn't helpful, you'll also find an excellent and well-organized Technical Support section on the PKWare site. PKZip for Windows 8.0's Web-based technical support includes a collection of thorough FAQs, a complete electronic version of the user manual, and links to support newsgroups. Registered users can receive support both via telephone, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT, and via e-mail.

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