PKZip 5.0 Professional
Install and go
PKZip 5.0 Professional installs effortlessly--just accept the default setup, and you'll be ready to securely zip up your files. You'll find all of the standard functions that you'd expect from a zip program, including integration with antivirus software and an impressive list of security features. With PKZip, you can encrypt your archives, lock them with passwords, and even use digital signatures and certificates to send your compressed files securely.
Are you tired of revving up encryption tools such as PGPfreeware every time you need to e-mail a secure, compressed file? PKZip's built-in encryption/authentication functionality takes care of secure file transmission. PKZip uses 168-bit, RC2, and DES encryption and integrates support for X.509 v3 digital certificates. For these advanced security features to work, however, both you and your recipient must use PKZip Standard or Professional.
Seamless Windows integration
Thankfully, PKZip Professional also works hand in hand with Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Outlook. Click any ZIP file download link in Internet Explorer, for example, and PKZip Professional asks you where to save the file and gives you the option to open, test, or extract the archive file on the fly.
Like most other compression apps, PKZip Professional allows you to right-click any file or directory in Windows Explorer to access PKZip's compression options. At this point, there's a menu to add the file to an existing archive, create a new archive with it, zip and e-mail it, make it into a self-extracting archive so that the end recipient need only open it to uncompress, or access PKZip Professional's configuration options. You can also get to these options from the app's desktop interface.
When it comes to performance, PKZip Professional is one of the best among compression programs. On our 900MHz Pentium-III test system, with 256MB of RAM and Windows XP, PKZip Professional took only 20 seconds to compress a 55MB directory of various-sized files into an 18MB archive. This compression was the fastest of any program we've tested, including PentaZip 5.1
On the other hand, with very large directories, PKZip performs a little below PentaZip 5.1. Where PKZip Professional took approximately seven minutes to zip up a 1GB directory into a 523MB archive, it took PentaZip 5.1 30 seconds less to compress the same directory down to 516MB. But, like PentaZip, PKZip Professional handles very large files gracefully, creating compressed file archives that are larger than 4GB if necessary.
Tech support aplenty
In the off chance that you have trouble running PKZip, you can find a number of tech-support options from various sources. PKZip Professional's integrated help files are extensive. You can also turn to the collection of useful online FAQs at the PKWare site. Plus, for the first 90 days, you'll receive unlimited free technical support via e-mail and even free telephone support. A $10 subscription fee extends the telephone support for a year and entitles you to a free upgrade to PKZip 6.0 Professional when it comes out.
PKZip Professional is an industrial-strength compression program with more advanced encryption and authentication features than those of its competition. At $49.95 ($39.95 for the download), the program isn't cheap, but PKZip Professional is essential if you are concerned about the security of your archived files. Otherwise, PentaZip 5.1 offers more features for the same price. There is a PKZip 5.0 Standard Edition for $29.95 ($24.95 for the download), but it does not contain the advanced security features found in the professional edition.