Ontrack/Mijenix – ZipMagic 2000 review

view Zip archives as folders
Photo of Ontrack/Mijenix – ZipMagic 2000
£29.95

Compressing large files into small spaces has always been a popular pastime for the PC user, whether because of limited drive capacity or to reduce phone bills during modem file transfer. In the early days the compression tools were rather arcane, often requiring complex command-line options. Things progressed in leaps and bounds when Windows 95 took over the desktop, and this latest tool from Ontrack/Mijenix is pretty much best of breed.

What makes ZipMagic 2000 so good is the ZipFolders system that was first used in ZipMagic 98. This simply means that all your Zip files appear as folders, with just the ‘.zip’ text telling you what’s inside (see screenshot below). You can open these folders by clicking on them, drag files and folders into and out of them, and even run some types of application directly from the Zip folder. It’s all highly intuitive and sensible.

ZipMagic 2000 works by performing the actual compression and expansion operations in the background, so the user never needs to know what’s happening behind the scenes. Aside from a bit of disk activity, that is. After adding itself to the right-click context menu, ZipMagic 2000 can be invoked to compress any folders and files at the click of the mouse button. Once compressed, these archives appear as folders which can be navigated in the usual way. But ZipMagic 2000 doesn’t actually do anything strange to the Zip archive itself – if you move the archive to another PC that doesn’t have ZipMagic 2000 installed, it will appear as any other archive, to be accessed by whatever Zip tools are installed on that PC.

This latest version of the software includes support for Windows 2000, has a viewing window to allow users to peek at graphics files stored within folders, and includes support for third-party anti-virus programs, so that you can scan compressed files before you run them or before zipping them. There’s support for the creation of self-extracting archives, so that the recipient of your files doesn’t need a Zip decompressor in order to access what you’ve sent them, plus disk spanning; breaking large archives up into smaller chunks so that they fit onto floppies or other removable media. There’s limited DOS support, too, plus useful options such as Zip file repair and MAPI-compliant e-mail program support.

Company: Ontrack/Mijenix

Contact: 01297 552 222


Verdict
Things have come a long way since Phil Katz' PKZIP and PKUNZIP command-line compression tools. ZipMagic 2000 is so phenomenally easy to use that running into difficulties is nigh on impossible. All the necessary features of any good compression tool - disk spanning, password protection, etc. - are here, and the folders analogy is intelligent, intuitive and effective. ZipMagic 2000 is a very useful tool.