In its new version 10 release, venerable file compression app WinZip keeps the clean interface, industry-standard encryption, and other goodies from version 9 and adds extensive automated backup options, and custom and preset compression options. It also provides useful if limited CD/DVD-burning features, going well beyond the native compression capabilities found in Windows XP. And while WinZip 10 Pro may cost a little more than its competitors, the features do justify the expense.
It takes just a few minutes to install WinZip 10 Pro from the CD-ROM. To get started with the utility, neophytes can use the WinZip wizard for a crystal-clear, screen-by-screen walkthrough of the most common tasks, such as zipping/unzipping files and folders and adding files to a zipped folder. A button lets you toggle to the more advanced WinZip Classic screen, where 10 buttons and six pull-down menus let you open, view, and encrypt ZIP files or view the help contents and tutorials. The handy WinZip Classic Favorites button lets you search for ZIP files on your C: drive or external drives. WinZip 10 supports a range of common file formats, including BinHex, MIME, ARJ, LZH, and ARC files.
Here's what's new in WinZip 10. First, upgrades are no longer free for registered users of earlier versions; instead, users of previous versions need to pay 50 percent of the full purchase price for version 10. Second, WinZip 10 is now available in two different versions, Standard and Pro. The single-user WinZip 10 Standard version costs about the same as the single-user version 9 ($29.95; $14.95 to upgrade); but for the best features, you'll want WinZip 10 Pro ($49.95; $24.95 to upgrade). Although all registered users receive free security and service updates, they can also add another $6.95 to buy Upgrade Assurance, which includes a year's worth of updates, bug fixes, and major feature upgrades. All this pushes the price of WinZip 10 Pro about $15 higher than its competitors, PKWare's PKZip for Windows 8 and StuffIt Deluxe 8.5.
Both WinZip 10 Standard and Pro include a 64-bit extended ZIP file format; industry-standard, password-protected AES file encryption; one-click e-mail support; and other goodies such as more effective PPMd and bzip2 compression options and a more intuitive tree-structured file-view style option. For a look inside this application, see our WinZip slide show.
Why pay for a compression utility at all? If you regularly compress files, you've probably outgrown the limited capabilities native in Windows XP. Use the WinZip Job Wizard in WinZip 10 Pro, for example, to schedule daily, weekly, or monthly compression of important files and automatically upload the zipped files (or just the zipped files that have changed recently) to remote FTP sites as backup storage. WinZip 10 Pro's Jobs pull-down menu also lets you choose from a range of preset compression options, such as Zip My E-mail. With WinZip 10 Pro, you can also zip and burn a file directly to CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, or DVD+R. We discovered one drawback to this Windows XP-only process: you can't update the zipped file on the CD, nor can you burn a second zipped file to the disc.
Despite its hefty price, WinZip 10 provides neither telephone support nor a printed manual. The help file installed with the program is complete, while the online FAQs are not. E-mail support is available, with a response promised within one business day. We received a thorough response to our e-mail support question in just a few hours.
Registered WinZip 9 users should skip the upgrade to WinZip 10 Standard and pony up for the new features in WinZip 10 Pro instead. But WinZip Pro offers less administrative control than its competition, so users looking for advanced business features such as the ability to lock a compressed legal contract will be better off with PKWare's PKZip for Windows 8. For those whose top concern is disk space or Mac compatibility, we recommend Aladdin's Mac- and Windows-compatible StuffIt Deluxe 8.5. While less flexible and user-friendly than WinZip, StuffIt compresses files smaller than does WinZip.