Tuesday, 02 May, 2006

Zip tools for Windows XP

I think it's really cool that Windows XP natively supports reading and creating .zip files.  It's just too bad that it doesn't always work real well.  I've never had trouble with XP reading a .zip file, but I've had trouble extracting files and some real odd results creating compressed files.

First, on creation.  I fail to understand why, when creating an archive, Windows will sometimes display a message, "Cannot create output file."  That's it.  Just that message and then the program stops trying to build the archive.  I don't know why.  This usually happens when there are many files and I try to add all of the files in one drag-and-drop operation.  But if I drag just a few files (say, one folder) at a time, Windows creates the archive just fine.  It doesn't seem like there should be a difference.

Extracting files from a zip file--especially a password-protected zip file--is painfully slow if you use the standard Windows XP compressed folder interface.  I have absolutely no idea why it should be so slow.  WinZip is faster.  ZipGenius is faster.  Info-ZIP's Wiz is faster.  Only the built-in Windows XP compressed folder thing extracts files at the speed of my old '286 machine.

You'd be hard pressed, in my opinion, to find a better compressor/decompressor program than ZipGenius.  I'll grant that my requirements for such a program aren't as serious as some others' might be.  My biggest concern is that I have one program to read all these different compressed or catalog file types.  ZipGenius reads .zip, .rar, .tar.gz, .cab, and a bunch of other types I'm not familiar with.  It even reads .arc files, which haven't been created since ... well, since about 1990 when Phil Katz created zip and got sued for his trouble.

ZipGenius also reads .iso files and will let you extract files from them.  That's a cool kind of thing to do, considering how often these days I'm fiddling with ISO images.  A 700 MB CD image doesn't seem like much when compared to a 150 GB drive.

As far as I'm concerned, the free ZipGenius blows away the too-expensive WinZip.  Give it a try.  I think you'll like it.