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PentaZip 5.1 review:

PentaZip 5.1

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The Good Easy installation; supports many file formats; includes excellent scripting capabilities; fast performance; unlimited e-mail support.

The Bad Expensive; no written documentation.

The Bottom Line PentaZip 5.1's truckload of extra features makes it an essential utility for anyone who needs to compress very large files.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

9.0 Overall

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By Bruce Stewart

PentaWare says that its PentaZip 5.1 is "more than just a zip program," and the product lives up to the company's claim. With an intuitive interface, excellent performance, and the ability to convert file formats, schedule tasks, and seamlessly integrate with e-mail and antivirus software, PentaZip offers everything you could want in a compression utility. Though all this zip magic comes with a hefty price tag--$59.95 for the CD or $49.95 if you download--it's well worth the cash. Power users can consider PentaZip their WinZip replacement. Beginners, however, may want to stick with simpler, less expensive WinZip 8.1 for Windows or StuffIt for Mac. By Bruce Stewart

PentaWare says that its PentaZip 5.1 is "more than just a zip program," and the product lives up to the company's claim. With an intuitive interface, excellent performance, and the ability to convert file formats, schedule tasks, and seamlessly integrate with e-mail and antivirus software, PentaZip offers everything you could want in a compression utility. Though all this zip magic comes with a hefty price tag--$59.95 for the CD or $49.95 if you download--it's well worth the cash. Power users can consider PentaZip their WinZip replacement. Beginners, however, may want to stick with simpler, less expensive WinZip 8.1 for Windows or StuffIt for Mac.

Full featured and easy to use
PentaZip is a breeze to install; accepting all of its default options yields a high-octane compression program. PentaZip supports an impressive list of archive formats, including ZIP, ZGB, ARJ, ARC, CAB, LZH/LHa, TAR, ZOO, RAR, GZIP, Z, BH, Ace, JAR, and DCL Zip. Using the ZipGigaByte format, PentaZip compresses any size file and creates compressed volumes larger than 4GB (on NTFS Windows-based systems).

If you're used to Windows, you'll quickly understand PentaZip's friendly, Explorer-based interface. Just right-click any file to compress it and create a new archive, a volume of compressed files, to add a file to an existing archive, to zip and e-mail the document, or to create a self-extracting archive and e-mail it. Right-clicking any compressed file gives you the option of opening it with PentaZip.

Advanced features and backups
PentaZip's powerful, built-in viewer supports a whopping 40 file types and even offers basic editing functions for both text and graphic files, including Microsoft Word documents, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and AutoCAD images.

In fact, PentaZip allows you to open, view, modify, convert, and resave your compressed files inside an archive without ever unzipping the files--a real time-saver. PentaZip also sports a Multiple Data Interface, which lets you open several compressed archives at the same time, then copy files between the archives by simply dragging and dropping them.

It's a snap to create an automated system backup using PentaZip's scripting capability and scheduling feature. Use the Script Wizard to tell PentaZip which files to archive and where to store them, then use the Add Event button on the Scheduler toolbar to tell PentaZip which scripts to run and when to run them. This program integrates with most antivirus software--none of the other compression utilities do that--creating a safe environment in which to compress and uncompress your files.

Superior performance
We evaluated PentaZip 5.1 on a 900MHz Pentium III system with 256MB of RAM, running Windows XP. It turns out that PentaZip runs much faster than WinZip 8.1. In our tests, it compressed a 55MB directory, consisting of many smaller files, in 20 seconds, while WinZip took 42 seconds. Compacting a 1GB directory, WinZip needed more than 15 minutes, while PentaZip compressed the directory in a blazing 6 minutes, 25 seconds. In both cases, WinZip yielded a slightly more compressed archive (17.5MB to PentaZip's 17.8MB on the smaller test, and 512MB to PentaZip's 516MB on the 1GB test), but it wasn't enough to make a difference.

Although PentaZip cannot convert zipped PC files to Mac SIT archives or vice versa, it surpasses StuffIt in speed. StuffIt, for instance, zipped our 55MB test directory in 26 seconds but couldn't compress our 1GB test case.

Online help and e-mail support
The PentaZip site features plenty of technical information but not much troubleshooting help. Luckily, PentaZip's integrated help system is excellent and should be able to answer most questions. PentaZip does not supply a printed manual, although PentaWare representatives assure us that one is in the works. Registered users receive unlimited, free e-mail technical support for the life of the product. E-mail turnaround times are between 2 and 24 hours.

Despite its steep price, PentaZip's strong performance, comprehensive list of supported file formats, and advanced features make it a solid investment for anyone who works with archived data at home or in the office.

PentaZip's interface is based on that of the familiar Windows Explorer.

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