Why WinZip?
November 15, 2007 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Why would one install WinZip?

I have always made and opened zipped files using the Compressed (zipped) Folder application that comes with Windows XP. It has always been just fine for what I do. But I find that every computer I have to use other than my own, such as those at work, at the library, friends' computers, and so forth, always have WinZip installed. I sometimes ask my co-workers and friends why, and they say "to open zipped files with, dummy!" But I don't understand it. One can open zipped files with the application that comes with XP! They must be using WinZip for something more, but what? What are the additional benefits of WinZip? Am I totally missing something?
posted by foxinthesnow to Computers & Internet (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Because they learned how to use computers before Microsoft introduced that feature in XP and assumed they needed it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:01 PM on November 15, 2007 [3 favorites]

Because WinZip (and other addon zip programs) give you more options: targeting where to unzip files, compression rates, unzipping file types besides zip, etc.

I actually install 7-zip on my machines because it can unzip file types that the built in compressed folder app can't (including MSI files, which I need to look inside of for my work).
posted by JaredSeth at 1:03 PM on November 15, 2007

Limited functionality. Just like some folks would prefer to use a 3rd party DVD player as opposed to WMP. Creating self-extracting files with auto executes, recursive folders, compression levels.

Personally I use 7zip, because I get sick of the registration reminder WinZip throw at you after 30 days.

Also it nice to have ZIP app open up and remember the creator of ZIP drank himself to death by pounding Peppermint Schnapps. How badass is that?
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:07 PM on November 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

When you're creating a zipped archive, WinZip permits you to control the compression. You can choose "fast and not very compressed" or "slow and really compressed a lot". If you're concerned about filesize (for instance if you intend to transmit the archive across limited bandwidth network link) that can make a difference.

But the real answer to your question is "habit".
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:08 PM on November 15, 2007

Because of the above -- and because they have turned off the zipped functionality in XP because they (a) believe having it causes performance issues in XP and/or (b) are annoyed that with it on XP expands zip files into folders when you are browsing on Windows Explorer.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:10 PM on November 15, 2007

What odinsdream said.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:10 PM on November 15, 2007

and what MCMikeNamara said. Browsing an archive directory full of zip files is mind-numbingly slow because explorer decides it needs to look inside every single zip file.
posted by pantsrobot at 1:21 PM on November 15, 2007

I use winzip only for the context menus. The UI on the built in compression sucks for extracting zip files with folder structures.
posted by mphuie at 1:33 PM on November 15, 2007

A second vote for "Because they learned how to use computers before Microsoft introduced that feature in XP and assumed they needed it."

Plus "compressed folders" doesn't actually SAY "zip" in it, so people double-don't-realize that they don't need it.
posted by GuyZero at 1:36 PM on November 15, 2007

I think for most people, it's just because that's how they learned computers and don't see a reason, or aren't aware there's even an option, to change. Other people have a need for the more advanced features of WinZip (or another archiving tool), such as encryption and compression control, which aren't something you can do with the built-in utility for Windows.
posted by mjgrady at 1:40 PM on November 15, 2007

Computers in business environs may have it installed as part of IT's standard setup procedure because they have a mix of XP and pre-XP machines, and having just one tool across all platforms simplifies support.
posted by nomisxid at 1:45 PM on November 15, 2007

i must be the only one who uses winrar...
posted by klanawa at 1:53 PM on November 15, 2007

I think at the enterprise level, a big reason is that the built-in ZIP functionality can be a security risk. If the OS treats ZIP files like any other file, then malware can be sent in ZIP files and be auto-executed. That's why my work installs WinZip - it's not transparent.

I agree, though, that there's a certain amount of inertia involved. Time was, the very first thing you did after re-installing Windows (because we all used to have to do that all the time) was download WinZip, then go about downloading all the drivers and junk necessary for a working Windows install. WinZip reminds me of WS-FTP and Trumpet Winsock. Good times... wait, no.
posted by dammitjim at 1:55 PM on November 15, 2007

I also use Winrar and for the context menu's really.

Right click > extract here

Right click > extract to "folderwithnameofarchive"

I actually used xp's built in zip functionality on a fresh install last night. I right click and choose extract and it... opens up a wizard? Really? LAME!
posted by utsutsu at 1:59 PM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

klanawa: "i must be the only one who uses winrar..."

Nope. I use it to. Why ZIP when you can RAR? Which I guess is my answer to the question.

Does anyone remember WinACE?
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:00 PM on November 15, 2007

Yah, I use izarc for the context menus, and because I don't want XP to put on its robe and wizard hat.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:06 PM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Because they dont know about Justzipit.

Double-click any zip file to unzip into its own folder at the current level. Nothing else to it.

Right click and select "just zip it" to zip your selection(s) into a zip file at the current level. Nothing else to it.
posted by jak68 at 2:07 PM on November 15, 2007

Why ZIP when you can RAR?

Because the recipient of your compressed archive is likely not to have Winrar, depending on level of geekiness? (and 80% of the time I compress these days is when I need to email / IM-send something to someone)
posted by ClarissaWAM at 2:10 PM on November 15, 2007

Winrar for the context menus.

Extract to (whatever) is a big one for me.
posted by cmyk at 2:28 PM on November 15, 2007

I use Winrar even for ZIP files, because I've noticed, especially for really large or compressed files, the engine is substantially faster.
posted by General Malaise at 2:33 PM on November 15, 2007

Because people don't want to go through a moronic five step wizard just to unzip a file. Right click, extract here.
posted by evariste at 2:54 PM on November 15, 2007

i must be the only one who uses winrar...

Winrar here.
posted by juv3nal at 3:05 PM on November 15, 2007

Because only WinZip does strong encryption right.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 4:31 PM on November 15, 2007

WinRAR does ZIP too, and in fact that's what I use it for 95% of the time.

I'm going to second the "limited functionality" and "makes Windows Explorer act funny" reasons for not using Compressed Folders. I turn off XP's built-in CD/DVD burning capabilities for similar reasons.
posted by chrominance at 5:49 PM on November 15, 2007

I just checked, and on my machine the WinRAR Explorer context menu has four options, but the WinZIP context menu has six options. WinZIP's "Check out" function is pretty good. However WinRAR's solid-archive-with-recovery-record wins overall.
posted by meehawl at 6:20 PM on November 15, 2007

It's really because most people don't know that WinXP has a built-in file compresser/decompresser.

Admittedly, it's very basic and other programs offer more features and capabilities. But really it's a simple matter of ignorance.
posted by Kioki-Silver at 7:48 PM on November 15, 2007

I wouldn't put it up to ignorance. My bet is that most people who install an archiving program do it because they specifically want that program. People who don't really know anything about their computer don't go looking for Photoshop or Firefox or Winamp or WinZip, they just use whatever Microsoft crap came with the machine. Average Joe User just double-clicks on the file and it opens, and he's happy. The people who better understand the security issues or require features not present in the built-in stuff know enough to find an alternative. Power users aren't going to be very pleased with a stripped-down bare bones archiver, web browser, photo editor or media player.

I also use WinRAR. Specifically because (a) I know for sure the person to whom I most often mail RAR archives has a copy, and (b) my mail servers both continually reject any attachments that are .zip or .exe files. So, no mailing compressed unless it's not a zip compression and no mailing self-extracting files. A continual pain in the ass.

Even better, just renaming the file (from "file.zip" to "file.txt" or some such) works fine, but then you need to ask the recipient to change the extension, and that in turn depends on them not having "hide known file extensions" turned off... damn Microsoft. I bet it's the WinXP zip folder support and the resulting auto-indexing of zip folder contents that is responsible for much of the reasoning behind blocking zip files as attachments in the first place. It's specific to that archiving format. I can send tarred or RARed or gzipped stuff all I want, only zip files are blocked.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:10 PM on November 15, 2007

This is news to me. I thought I needed WinZip to open zipped files. That is the sole reason why I have WinZip.
posted by creasy boy at 12:13 AM on November 16, 2007

Two reasons I use it:

- Password protection (maybe 7-Zip does this?)

- Stripping of extra NTFS security information

When using Windows' built-in ZIP compression on .NET code/projects from an NTFS source drive - metadata is added to the folder, so that when you unzip using Windows' built-in ZIP decompression on another computer - Visual Studio .NET thinks that the code is on a network share and complains.

Programs like WinZip or 7-Zip will strip that. (Or - copy the unzipped folders to a FAT drive (typically a USB thumb-drive) and back again!
posted by jkaczor at 1:26 PM on November 16, 2007

I don't feel like going and finding the references where I heard this, but apparently Windows XP native zip handler is VERY SLOW. Uncompressing a big zipfile (hundreds of megs) can take a long time. Winzip is more optimized, and can get the job done much quicker.

Plus it has the right click context menus.
posted by cschneid at 7:27 AM on November 18, 2007

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