PKZip Suite 4.5 expands possibilities

As the amount of data in today's workplace expands exponentially, government agencies realize that storage space and network bandwidth are at a premium.

The data has to reside somewhere, and it also must travel—in the form of e-mail attachments, Internet downloads and as files on removable media such as floppy disks. In their native formats, some files can take up a lot of space and suck up precious bandwidth when e-mailed.

That's where data compression comes in. Large files can be reduced in size (40 percent to 60 percent on average), and multiple files can be combined into one compressed archive.

PKWare Inc., the company that introduced the zipped compressed file format more than a decade ago, has recently introduced a new innovation for data compression: unlimited file size and capacity.

PKZip 4.5 for Windows, available separately or as part of a five-product package called PKZip Suite 4.5 for Windows, represents a breakthrough. Previous versions did not enable compression of files larger than 4G and an archive could not contain more than 65,000 files, but PKZip 4.5 has no such restrictions. This will be welcome news for power users such as system administrators. PKZip's competitor, WinZip Computing Inc.'s WinZip 8.0, does not offer this capability.

Another important recent addition to the product is public-key infrastructure-based digital signature support, also lacking in WinZip. Considering the amount of information agencies need to transfer via the Internet, combining data compression with digital signature security makes a lot of sense. People can now take advantage of compression while ensuring a secure transaction. Recipients can verify the origin of a file and ensure that the contents have not been altered.

PKZip 4.5 supports standard X.509-based digital certificates from Baltimore Technologies, VeriSign Inc., British Telecommunications plc and other third-party certificate authorities.

To help manage large zipped files, PKZip 4.5 lets you to split them into segments on a hard drive. This helps conserve bandwidth when transferring large archives via a network or sending them as e-mail attachments. The segments can also be posted on a Web site for separate downloading. We liked the fact that users can choose the size of the file segments. When a zipped file doesn't fit onto one floppy disk, PKZip 4.5 automatically spans it across more than one disk, placing as much data on each disk as will fit.

Novice users can jump right into file compression with PKZip's intuitive wizards. The wizards guide users through all of the basic processes, including creation of self-extracting files. (A self-extracting zipped file can be expanded by a user who does not have PKZip installed.)

We liked PKZip's interface better than WinZip's. The main window contains three sections: the toolbars at the top; a middle section for listing files, which also contains tabs for various functions such as statistic viewing, adding comments to an archive and viewing a message log; and a Microsoft Corp. Internet Explorer-style file manager window at the bottom that automatically shows a computer's contents when PKZip is opened.

WinZip's main window, on the other hand, features only the toolbars and a blank window that is used to show a list of zipped files once users have selected or created them. Further, PKZip's toolbars feature more items than WinZip's, making the interface easier to use since more functions are in plain view and readily available.

Other convenient options and features include support for nine compression levels, a print preview, a search feature for locating lost archives and the ability to add files from multiple folders in a single session. In addition, PKZip 4.5 allows you to edit a self-extracting zipped file without re-creating the archive and converting it to an executable file, as you must do with WinZip.

The other products included with PKZip Suite 4.5 are PKZip Command Line 4.5, PKZip Explorer 1.5, PKZip Attachments 1.1 and PKZip Plug-In 1.0.

PKZip Command Line 4.5 is a set of MS-DOS commands that can automate any zipped function, such as opening an archive and creating a new archive. It includes PKZip 2.04G command line switch support.

PKZip Explorer 1.5 integrates PKZip with Microsoft Windows Explorer so you can create and modify zipped files without leaving the program. While in Explorer, simply right-click on a file and the PKZip options appear in the menu. It's fast and easy to create a new archive, add the file to an existing archive or make a self-extracting file. You also can access a host of options, including compression method and level, size of files to be spanned and digital certificate security.

PKZip Attachments 1.1 works with Microsoft Outlook 2000 and 2002 and allows you to select whether to automatically zip e-mail attachments. You can also configure other PKZip options from within Outlook.

Finally, PKZip Plug-In 1.0 allows you to start, stop or resume a zipped download from within Internet Explorer or Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator.

At $29 for an electronic download of the program, PKZip Suite 4.5 for Windows is a must-buy for users of all levels. Novices will find it easy to use, and power users will appreciate the lack of space and size restrictions. And the program's flexibility and comprehensive feature set, including PKI-based digital signature support for security, will satisfy everyone in between.


PKZip Suite 4.5

Score: A

PKWare Inc.
(414) 354-8699

Price and availability: PKZip Suite 4.5 is available directly from PKWare's Web site ( for $29 via Electronic Software Download (ESD), or on CD-ROM directly from PKWare for $40 plus shipping. PKZip 4.5 stand-alone graphical user interface is available via ESD for $26.

Remarks: PKZip is a must-buy for users of all levels. Novices will find it simple to use thanks to the intuitive interface, and power users will appreciate the ability to create archives of unlimited size. Support for digital signatures ensures the security of zipped files.


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