WinZip 16 Pro Is a Compression Utility for Power Users
At a Glance
Things often come in pairs, from turkey and stuffing to Pro and Standard versions of software. WinZip 16 ($60, 45-day free trial) follows this pattern, adding several powerful features to the standard release of the dominant compression and archiving software in the Windows world.
Many of the baseline features are covered in our review of WinZip Standard 16 ($30), but to summarize them quickly: The Winzip engine has been updated to 64 bit, support for new formats is added, previewing is improved, and support for WinZip's cloud service, ZipSend, has been integrated into the software. With all that in Standard, you may ask, "What's left for Pro"?
The major feature Winzip 16 Pro adds is what the program calls Backups, but it's more than that. It's a pretty nice task management system, letting you create either scheduled tasks which can be used for regular backups (among other things), or one-time tasks that allow the user to set a number of rules and filters to control what's backed up. For example, you may wish to zip all the .jpg and .gif files in several directories, or back up one particular folder or set of folders every Wednesday. The wizard allows you to easily choose between zipping everything, regardless of what was there the last time, or incrementally back up changed information to an existing archive. You can set filters for include and exclude, making it easy to get "All files except *.tmp" or "Only *.PDF".
A number of common tasks, such as backing up your document library, or your mail folders, are predefined. This last one highlights one of the flaws of WinZip 16--support for third-party applications is limited. The mail backup will look for Outlook or Winmail; users of Thunderbird or Eudora, for example, must define the task themselves. And if you have a Blu-ray writer on your system, WinZip 16 Pro can archive your backups in that format.
WinZip 16 Pro also adds some advanced photo preview functionality, including quick transfer from iPhone, iPad, or other digital cameras. You can create a self-extracting ZIP from these photos to send them to your friends, but this only works if you choose "legacy" compression over the newer ZIPX format. (This is a general rule for self-extracting ZIP files, it's not a photo-specific issue.)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the functions and features in WinZip 16 Pro, it's just not clear that they're useful enough to most users to justify the price increase over Standard. It's difficult to criticize a company for making the Standard edition "too good," instead of following the pattern of reserving all but the most basic functionality for the Pro version. Users who regularly need rules-based backup, or who transfer a lot of digital images, may find the increased functionality well worth it. For most people, Standard will be enough. The trial includes both versions, so you can judge if the Pro features are useful to you.