Since its launch in 1991, WinZip has become one of the most popular programs for compressing and encrypting files for storage or sending. The latest version builds on the strengths of its predecessors by offering greater capacity, enhanced encryption and compression, and many improvements to the user interface.
To ensure that your files are kept safe from prying eyes, version 9.0 supports 128-bit and 256-bit key AES encryption. To put this into perspective, the US Computer Security Resource Centre Web site estimates that it would take around “149 trillion years to crack a 128-bit AES key”. So, we’d say your files are pretty safe.
To lock down your files, simply choose the encryption strength you want and specify your password. One thing to note is that current recipients of AES-encrypted files must have WinZip 9.0 to decrypt them, although WinZip is working with third parties to expand support for the format.
Now that you know your files will be safe, you might want to store even more, which is fine because WinZip 9.0 has a much higher capacity. The new version’s 64-bit extensions mean you can create archives that hold more than 65,535 files and are larger than 4GB. Despite their enhanced capacity, new Zip files are compatible with the old format.
To ensure that Zip files take up as little hard drive space as possible and are easier to e-mail, version 9.0 uses an ‘enhanced deflate’ compression method that cuts down file size.
Although an upgrade to 9.0 isn’t a must, you will benefit from better security and support for higher capacity. Nervous users might want to wait for the final version that, at time of writing, was not available for download.
WinZip 9.0 beta
Price: Free trial beta version available for download