Software Review: ZipItFree - Winextra
Archived files are a way of life in this day and age. Even with broadband speed, connections are dropped, packets are lost, and time is valuable. So, we use Archival Utilities. WinZip is probably one of the best-known of this genre, it’s the first of it’s kind I ever heard of and used, myself. MicroSmarts would like you to take a look in their direction, however. And you can leave your wallet behind, ’cause one WinZip feature not included in ZipitFree is a price tag.
Acquisition and Installation
I snagged a copy of XP and Vista-friendly ZipItFree version 1.8 from the ZipItFree homepage. The package checks in at just over 4 megs, and blazed down in just about 10 seconds on my cable connection. I don’t even get speeds like that from big-name sites, as a rule. The licence agreement is mostly pointless, in short, ZipItFree is, well…free. That’s a summary of the licence agreement right there for ya, bro. You’re welcome.
The rest of the setup was short on options, but did the job quickly. At the end of the installation, tragedy for this program strikes. Spybot picked up several registry changes that the setup tried to make, including an attempt to change the default search engine to www.searchgateway.net/search. The page, upon being typed into FireFox out of morbid curiosity, returned a 404, but the damage was done, at least in the opinion of this reviewer.
A bit of research revealed that MicroSmarts apparently owns SearchGateway, and a little more Google’ing turns up numerous reports of MicroSmarts installs doing even more devious things, such as adding Searchdefender and Speeditup to the startup list, both of which are sometimes reported as spyware. Tsk, Tsk. Even if they’re fabulous programs to have, an installer adding things to my computer without permission is a big no-no. Since I’ve already started, let’s continue.
After clicking ‘finish’ ZipItFree offers to change file associations for archive files to ZipItFree. Seems like a good idea to me. Done.
Features and Use
On first blush, I wasn’t big on the interface. The first thing that caught my eye were the four blank spheres at the top right of the window where you usually see the close, maximize and minimize buttons.
The fourth button from the right is a ‘windowshade’ mode’ or ‘roll-up’ button as it’s called in the program. I approve, I wish far more programs included this. The proper image appears when you mouse over it. However, you are forced to either memorize which button is what, or mouse over each one when you wish to use one. Cool effect, but only served to increase my annoyance which was already high after the nefarious attempts to hijack my browser.
Creating a new archive was quick and easy, but not exactly intuitive. You must click ‘new’, upon which a browse folder window opens, seeming to prompt you to select a pre-existing archive. You’re supposed to type your desired archive name after browsing to the destination folder. I didn’t like that the program brought up the browse window way off the right side of the screen every time. I had to drag it over to see more than the left third of it. This may be a result of my running dual monitors, I’ve seen previously well-behaving apps do this after moving to a dual-mon setup. In a free app, this is a rather minor issue.
I created and subsequently unpacked several archives, with a variety of different files. The compression ratio wasn’t astounding, but the speed was pretty comparable to the big boys with .zip files. Arj, Cab and Black Hole (.BH) are among the other file type options, as well. If your archives get too large, they can be split to whatever size you prefer, then add comments to them. Alas, you cannot create RAR files, legal issues, I’m sure, but you can unpack them, yah sure ya betcha.
Since I had begun to get over my crankiness, (it’s from hanging out with Steven) I really started to look at the ZipItFree user interface, which is really quite snazzy. It’s clean and neat, and the window and menu effects, while you can disable them, are super-slick.
The right-click menu integration is handy, but again, this was installed without permission. I’d have enabled it anyway, but it’s the principle of the thing.
Uninstall and system friendliness
CPU and memory usage in an app like this is arguable since creating and unpacking archives can be a pretty intensive project. However, even while packing up nearly a gig’s worth of files into a CAB, I was able to continue using my browser and other apps without interference. At rest, ZipItFree holds about 20,000K of memory.
Uninstallation was complicated by the program not releasing a DLL upon being closed. It did offer to delete the file at my next reboot, which it did successfully. All other traces of the program including the menu integration and shortcuts were removed except for the usual smattering of reg entries and the program folder, which was empty. Spybot stopped the hijack attempt, so I can’t say whether the added bits would have been removed, but from experience, I’d have to be doubtful.
Pros: Very slick interface, very free, admirable archive creator and uppacker.
Cons: Hijack attempt equals a death sentence, in my opinion. Sign the warrant and get a rope. Bubba, we’s gonna have us a hangin’ tonight.