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PKZip Professional Edition 6.0 review:

PKZip Professional Edition 6.0

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The Good Includes strong encryption features and can create digital signatures; integrates with Outlook and Lotus Notes; customizable interface options.

The Bad Expensive; no written or online documentation.

The Bottom Line If you work with ZIP files and care about security, PKZip Professional Edition 6.0 with Secure Desktop is an excellent choice.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.7 Overall
  • Setup 8.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Support 9.0

Review Sections

PKZip Professional Edition 6.0 is a safe and easy-to-use archiving solution. Created by PKWare, the originators of the ZIP format, PKZip 6.0 offers all you could want in a compression program, plus a simple Windows Explorer interface, drag-and-drop capability, and integration with popular e-mail programs, Web browsers, and antivirus software. Although PKZip 6.0 compresses and extracts files no faster than its previous version, it has several new features, including strong AES 256-bit encryption and integration with Lotus Notes, making it a more versatile choice than WinZip 8.1. While the full version is expensive at $99.95, a standard edition without encryption is available for a mere $29.95. If you work with ZIP files and want security, PKZip 6.0 is an excellent choice for handling all of your compression and archiving needs. PKZip 6.0 installs smoothly. By accepting the default choices, the software will automatically compress and decompress your ZIP files, add archive options to the right-click menu in Windows Explorer, and add a plug-in to Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes.

The Archive Manager provides quick access to frequently used ZIP files.

Once installed, PKZip has you covered no matter how you want to access your archived, or compressed, files, thanks to its combination of an easy-to-use wizard, right-click context menus, and classic PKZip program interface. You can also configure PKZip to work with your favorite antivirus program, automatically scanning files for viruses whenever they are uncompressed.

You choose which buttons to display on PKZip's toolbar.

Best of all, PKZip's interfaces are highly customizable. The Archive Manager, which displays the contents of a zipped file, works just like Windows Explorer, so you can choose to display files as large or small icons, in both list and detail views. You can also customize PKZip by picking and choosing which buttons you want on the main toolbar.

New features in the professional version of PKZip include support for the strong 256-bit encryption AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) standard and compatibility with the open-source BZIP2 compression algorithm as well as with BinHex, CAB, GZIP, Mime, TAR, UUEncode, and XEncode and with the external tools ARJ, LZH, and RAR. Plus, PKZip offers tight integration with Lotus Notes.

PKZip for Windows Professional can use either password- or certificate-based encryption, and it now supports a host of superstrong encryption standards, including RC2, RC4, DES, 3DES, and AES. You can also use PKZip to digitally sign your zip archives with standard X.509 digital certificates, such as VeriSign Digital IDs, and add more signatures so that multiple users can cosign a document or archive.

The PKZip for Windows wizard lets you easily perform the most common zip operations.

The professional version of PKZip is intended for small businesses that need encryption and digital signatures, while the standard version is intended to compete against WinZip. Even without the security features, PKZip's standard version is a much more robust compression choice than WinZip, which has not released an upgrade since late 2001 and is showing its age.

PKZip also compresses and creates ZIP files larger than 4GB, which had been the maximum ZIP file size for many years. In addition to ZIP files, you can use PKZip to create self-extracting (EXE) files that will automatically decompress files on anyone's computer, whether or not he or she has PKZip.

You can use PKZip to break a compressed file into multiple segments, too--a useful feature if you store large archives on smaller removable media or want to send a large archive as an e-mail attachment (thus avoiding e-mail size restrictions).

Use the Security Options to specify encryption and authentication settings.

When it comes to speed, PKZip remains one of the best among compression programs. On our 900MHz Pentium III test system, with 256MB of RAM and Windows XP, PKZip took only 20 seconds to compress a 55MB directory of various-sized files into an 18MB archive. This is the same performance we got testing last year's version of PKZip.

Another handy feature is the ability to view and edit files within an archive without extracting them. In other words, PKZip allows you to compress a document, then view and edit that document within its associated application while the file remains in the compressed state. Whenever you make changes to the ZIP file, PKZip will remind you to save.

PKZip's Quick Start Tutorial walks you through compressing and extracting ZIP files.

PKZip 6.0 comes with an excellent in-program help system. In addition to its comprehensive online instruction manual, PKZip includes context-sensitive help menus, a large collection of hints and tips, an extensive list of FAQs, and a Quick Start Tutorial. There is no written documentation, but the online help screens are clear and complete, and the tutorial is especially useful for anyone unfamiliar with the fundamentals of zip programs. PKWare also maintains a technical support Web site and offers registered users telephone (daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT) and e-mail support.

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