Corel WinZip Pro

Let's dispense with the obvious question, first. Since Windows has been able to open and create zip files for many years, why would you spend money on a separate utility?  Although most of Corel WinZip 17 Pro's features involve compression, it can also be used to enable other things, like backup, promoting files to the internet, securing files in the cloud and sending things to social network pals. See all: Software utilities reviews. (We review the standard version of WinZip 17 here.)

Corel highlights seven new features of particular importance: direct connection to Cloud services SkyDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive, ZipShare for sending files to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, sending large files over email, converting files to PDF as they're zipped, adding watermarks to images, resizing photos automatically and backing up files to zips. See all: PC Advisor software downloads.

Corel WinZip 17 Pro: ribbon interface

The WinZip ribbon interface is easy to use and files can be dragged and dropped for direct compression, or added through a traditional Add Files browser.

Adding PDF conversion, a watermark, encryption or photo resizing is as simple as checking a box in the ribbon while creating a new zip archive.

PDF conversion is restricted to Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, while photo resizing works with BMP, DIB, EXIF,GIF, JPG, PNG or TIF types, taking them down to one of six standard sizes, such as 800 x 600.

Sending files out as PDFs makes them harder to alter and therefore more secure, while reducing photo sizes makes them more convenient to upload to a cloud.

Integration with SkyDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive means zipped files can be shared directly to them, simply by choosing folders on their remote servers rather than your local drives when saving zip archives. Files can also be shared with the three main social-media networks: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, using ZipShare.

Selecting this feature sends the nominated zip file to the ZipShare server and publishes a link to one or more of the networks. It seemed reluctant to post just to a Facebook wall, though and wanted a nominated group or ‘Everyone'.

Corel WinZip 17 Pro: backup tool

The new backup tool is fairly basic, but it does offer pre-defined jobs to zip and save, for example, all Windows Libraries, or your emails and documents. There's an equally basic scheduler, which enables daily, weekly or monthly runs of each job.

The default destination for these jobs is the My WinZip Files folder, created in the Documents folder on the main Windows drive. Most backup programs specifically exclude storing a backup on the drive holding the source files, as if that drive fails, you lose both. The folder can be changed, but why make it the default?

WinZip introduced an amalgam of higher-level compression techniques, under the zipx filetype, back in WinZip 12, but most people still use the older zip format for compatibility.

Compression rates can vary widely, depending if the chosen file is already compressed or not: we saw just one percent on a 700MB MPEG4 video, which took 1:30 to compress, but 37 percent on an 18MB uncompressed TIF photo.

Remember most media files – such as MPEG video, MP3 audio, JPEG images – are already highly compressed and won't reduce much when zipped. With the current low cost of local storage, the last few percent of compression is less important, though it's still a factor when sending or storing stuff via the internet.

Corel WinZip 17 Pro: Specs

  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8 32-/64-bit
  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8 32-/64-bit

OUR VERDICT

Corel has followed the trends and is still very engaged in making WinZip as useful as possible in a mobile age. Many of the utility's new facilities are cloud-focused and provide valuable new ways to use file compression. Highlights like scheduled, zipped backup and automatic PDF creation are well integrated into the ribbon-led interface. The price is high, though – we would have expected at least a 3-PC licence for the money.

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