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Helpware: Still zipping along after all these years

By Noah Matthews, McClatchy-Tribune News Service –

In yet another example of how time is passing me by with the speed of a quad-core processor, WinZip, the venerable file compression utility for Windows PCs, is in its 16th version. Has it really been two decades since I first installed it on my Gateway 2000 PC? The one with four expensive megabytes of memory?

If old age has its rewards, it’s in this newest version of WinZip, which has a tool bar that is complex and intuitive at the same time, resembling the ribbon in Microsoft Word but easier to use.

The try-before-you-buy version, downloadable at http:///www.winzip.com, is good for 45 days. That’s long enough to convince even the most penurious user to spring for the paid versions, which start at $30.

WinZip lets you compress, or zip, large files to smaller ones that you can send by email, burn to CDs, or just store on your PC. The new version is faster, zips multiple files more easily and splits large files so that you can back them up to multiple CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs or other storage media. It decompresses just about any other native compressed files, such as “cab.” You can drag compressed files to the desktop icon to unzip them instantly, encrypt and decrypt files for security, shred sensitive files you no longer need, compress photos, create executable files (*.exe), or even send compressed files to Facebook.

A $50 pro version lets you back up to Blu-ray discs and schedule backups, among other advanced features. For most users, the $30 standard version should be adequate.

A version for Macintosh PCs also is available.

Middle age has been kind to WinZip — far kinder than it’s been to me. The program continues to improve on features that made it the standard for file compression some 20 years ago. It’s well worth the price.

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