WinZip has long been a go-to ZIP tool, so we were keen to try the all-new WinZip 18. It’s much more than a cosmetic upgrade: A new compression engine zips, splits, and joins files faster than legacy versions, though of course WinZip still handles virtually any archive file type. It converts files to PDFs, adds watermarks, resizes photos, manages archives, and protects files with 128/256 bit encryption. Improved cloud navigation smoothly integrates WinZip with many more cloud services, including Box, Dropbox, SugarSync, SkyDrive, and Google Drive. Cloud Links adds links to files via e-mail, IM, and social media. WinZip Express Add-Ons let you access many WinZip features directly from Outlook and other programs (These cost extra, though WinZip Express for Explorer was free with our download!). The full version of WinZip 18 (64-bit) is free to try for 21 days.
WinZip 18 installed over our existing program, though we had to choose between the new compression standard (better performance) and the default option, legacy compression (wide compatibility with large archives) — though of course you’re not limited to one or the other. Other setup options include themes and file associations. Setup finished with a Quick Start guide covering many of WinZip 18’s new features, such as the Office-style Ribbon toolbar that accesses cloud-based resources directly (you can choose the old style interface and menus from WinZip’s extensive Settings). We tried WinZip 18’s new algorithm, which definitely feels fast and did a good job even with hard-to-squeeze media files. We really wanted to try WinZip 18’s cloud features, though. We clicked “Save to Cloud” and then selected Dropbox from the list and then signed in. After that, we could access our Dropbox folders directly from WinZip. WinZip’s Photos tool can integrate with your digital camera, too. WinZip Express for Explorer adds a QUICK-ZIP option to WinZip’s extensive context menus. Help buttons are everywhere.
WinZip 18’s improved engine and enhanced cloud services take a reliable, old favorite to a new level, and 64-bit integration will help keep it there. It’s hard to get excited about a ZIP tool, but WinZip 18 just thrills us with its impressive features and ease of use.