Ontrack – ZipMagic 4.0 review

Zip files accessed as normal folders
Photo of Ontrack – ZipMagic 4.0
£29.95

We’ve reviewed a previous version of ZipMagic here (a year ago to the day, bizarrely). But now that all the millennium product-naming nonsense has disappeared, we can go back to the old-fashioned version numbers. This is version 4.0 of an application that takes a simple idea and executes it elegantly.

As you’ll know if you’ve read the previous review, ZipMagic allows users to access files compressed using the common Zip format as though they were conventional folders/directories. The only obvious difference under Windows 95/98/etc. is that the folder icons have the word ‘ZIP’ on them, rather than being blank. In all other respects, they are just the same as normal folders, in that you can drag and drop files into and out of them, open images and documents directly from the Zip file, and even run applications from within them, should you wish.

There are some clever touches to the program, such as the ability to decide which applications see Zip files as folders (e.g. word-processors, most other business apps) and which see them as files (e.g. e-mail programs, backup software). You can switch the Zip folders on and off at the click of a button, and there are some welcome 32-bit command-line tools for automated backup that will please power users.

But as to what you get in version 4 that you didn’t get in ’2000′; well, there’s not a huge difference. The interface is pretty much identical – no bad thing, in our most humble, as it’s pretty easy to use anyway – and the most prominent additional features involve e-mailing, with tighter integration with Outlook and other e-mail clients, so that sending Zip files to other people is a pretty painless operation.

Also new is stronger encryption, a silent self-extract feature which could be useful to software distributors, and an improved tool for adding comments to compressed files. That’s yer lot, really, aside from some installation and configuration tweaks. Welcome features, no doubt, but not worth an upgrade if you already have the 2000 version of ZipMagic.

Company: Ontrack

Contact: 01297 552 222


Verdict
ZipMagic 4.0 takes the original, clever concept of Zip folders and adds a little sprinkling of extra features. Those tweaks make this new version even more appealing to first-time buyers, but those who already know the joys of easy-access Zip folders on their desktop, via the 2000 version of the program, will have little reason to upgrade.