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Windows XP’s support for zip files now graces every new PC sold in retail stores. It caters for everyday compression needs at the simple click of a right mouse button. So the question inevitably arises: is WinZip 10 really worth the upgrade?

WinZip would have us believe so, with the product’s advertising heaping great hopes on the two new compression technologies on offer: bzip2 and PPMd. The latter of which is being pushed as the new standard in compression, and rightly so, squeezing files almost 3 per cent thinner on comparison to either the standard or bzip2 formats, though taking almost twice as long to do so.

While the effective reduction of file sizes should be the meat and drink of compression software, the Pro version introduces additional persuasive features. The ability to compress a zip directly to CD or DVD reduces what was a two-stage manoeuvre into a swift and effective single action. The new View Style button represents a handy nip and tuck from previous versions, allowing users to switch to an Explorer window that’s useful for displaying folders within zipped files.

As a back-up tool, the ability to directly commit files to CD is welcome, but for those that require large and regular data back-ups, the Pro version adds a Jobs Wizard that enables users to create and schedule automated tasks. That will compress selected files by type, date or any other specified factor and repeat them according to a particular schedule. Within Jobs you’ll find a multitude of predefined options including encryption, filters, varying degrees of compression, scheduling and the ability to automatically send files to a web server via FTP.

A compression utility needs to be fast, intuitive and integrate well into Windows, and the Jobs option certainly has these bases covered. Yet while predefined Jobs include My Desktop, My Favourites and My Documents, My Email only works with Outlook or Outlook Express, requiring you to tweak the parameters of a custom Job should you use any other email client.

The lack of support for .rar files is a further gripe, as is the wish for DVD+RW support, yet in this incarnation – and in the Pro version especially – WinZip has succeeded in making data back ups that previously involved several steps or additional programs, delightfully efficient.

Retail Download Price: $39.00

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