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Top 5 Free Alternatives to Winzip

Winzip has become the defacto standard compression software that's found on workstations and laptops around the world. However, in an obvious move for greater profitability, Corel Corporation has recently decide to change their shareware licensing model for Winzip from "Try Forever, Buy Whenever" to "Buy in 45 Days or Stop Using It".

Standard shareware practice is to let you try a software program for 30 days or 30 times, whichever comes first. This lets you kick the tires before forking over your hard-earned money for a registered version, which usually is the same product without the nagging registration reminders.

With Corel's recent change in licensing terms and the 45-day trial period limitation, your choices range from purchasing the newer version, living with your current/older version, or finding another program altogether.

Here are 5 alternatives to Winzip. They're all compatible with Winzip's compression technology, and most of them are even free.

  1. PowerArchiver
  2. A completely revamped user interface in PowerArchiver 2007 makes it easier to access the wealth of features that PowerArchiver has. Its task-based interface utilizes the same "Ribbon" design found in Microsoft Office 2007, and provides quick access to the most used features while not hiding others under layers of menus. PC World selected PowerArchiver as its "Best Buy" for compression applications.

    PowerArchiver 2007 includes full support for Windows Vista, and at only $19.95 for the most recent version, it's cheaper than Winzip yet with very similar functionality, look, and feel. You can find an older version for free at OldVersion.com.

  3. 7-Zip
  4. 7-Zip is free open source software. Most of the source code is under the GNU LGPL license. You can use 7-Zip on any computer, including a computer in a commercial organization. You don't need to register or pay for 7-Zip. But you can make a donation to support further development of 7-Zip.

  5. ZipCentral
  6. ZipCentral is a free and easy to use zip file manager with all the utilities you need to manage your zip files. The goal of ZipCentral is to be the most robust freeware zip-package you can find today. It is a great tool for the beginner as well as the expert.

  7. ZipGenius
  8. ZipGenius is free software for Windows that lets you compress files to almost any kind of archive. ZipGenius supports more than 20 compressed archive formats, including CD/DVD-ROM image files in ISO9660 standard, RAR, ARJ, ACE, CAB, SQX, OpenOffice.org documents and the excellent 7-zip.

  9. WinRAR
  10. WinRAR is a powerful archive manager that can backup your data and reduce size of email attachments, decompress RAR, ZIP and other files downloaded from Internet and create new archives in RAR and ZIP file format. It's shareware with a 40-day trial period that is not enforced (let's you use it beyond the trial period).

Despite the new change in licensing, I think Winzip will continue to be the most widely used zip compression utility on the market for quite some time. Many organizations would rather pay an affordable $29.95 than pay for costly training time to move users to other zip utility program. But it's comforting to know that there are several free and robust alternatives available for budget-conscious companies and individuals.

WinZip 11.1

I've tried some of the Winzip alternatives you mentioned but they aren't quite as good as the real thing.

One great thing is the "Zip and Email" option in Winzip. I use that a lot.

You should also take a look at jZip (www.jzip.com). It seems to be still in Beta, but it offers the same funcitonality as WinZip and is totally free.

What about the Compression utility in Window XP? Has anyone tried that as an alternative to WinZip?

Yes, I've tried the built-in zip support for both XP and Vista, and have consistently found that it breaks for larger zip files.

For example, I have a 220MB zip file that simply does not work using Vista's built-in unzipping utility. I just tried it a few times in a row and all three times it crashed Windows Explorer.

Tried it with Winzip and 7-zip and both of these programs handled it just fine.

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